Daniel Coombs’ light infused pictorial spaces are simultaneously joyful and mysterious. Illuminated abstracted landscapes are populated by nude figures and the artist’s sensual and cerebral paintings may be considered a contemporary evocation of the long-standing tradition of depicting nudes in landscape ⎯ a subject favoured by artists such as Titian and Poussin, and most famously Paul Cézanne.
And yet, Coombs’ work expresses in part something not quite visible but deeply poignant, described as “The reality of human interaction that occurs at a level below language. I’m interested in the way people relate, penetrate and transform each other’s consciousness and I’m trying to show the figure as part of a total matrix of other figures.”
In terms of formal influence, the artist points to an affinity for the work of Georg Baselitz and Philip Guston, and a particular admiration for German modern artistic practice, noting these painters’ tendency to fuse figuration and abstraction. Further still, in Coombs’ energetically vivid compositions we see traces of harmonious use of hue, structure and figuration. This approach is reminiscent of the poetic conceptions of landscape and figuration found in Cézanne’s bather paintings particularly the use of lilting trees, elongated choreographed nudes now in Coombs’ pictures intersected by swathes of colour and areas of veiling and erasure, obliterating narrative and representation. The result is a series of powerful contemporary paintings that balance the sensual pleasure of paint, landscape and the canonical nude with a more cerebral study of intertextuality.
Rosa JH Berland