'Flamboyant jungle', Susie Hamilton

Dense painting of a brightly coloured forest

Acrylic on canvas, 107 x 148 cm

Over the last five years I have painted outsider figures who escape the laws of society to exist in turbulent, exhilarating places.

My cowboys, explorers and criminals seek liberation in alternative spaces. In the series from which Flamboyant jungle comes, I focus on the non-human expressing the freedom that the human seeks. My paintings of monkeys in tropical forests draw on the idea of the earthly paradise but suggest something disturbing as well as alluring in this garden of delights. The sugary colour can spill over into a riot of messy pink or sickly violet. The florid jungle can seem too rank. And an ecstatic feeling of being overwhelmed by pleasurable sensation can become a sense of being simply engulfed and destroyed. I introduce images from microscopy to refer to the powerful world of cells and molecules which intrude on the visible. I use watery mixtures of acrylic which flood across images in translucent veils, bursting boundaries and uniting shapes to indicate nature streaming and mutating. And while these aspects suggest organisms overwhelmed by the metamorphic force of nature, I want to convey a parallel process of figurative images challenged by abstraction. The known, representational image is overtaken by an unnameable abstract shape into which it is growing or in which it is immersed.


Susie Hamilton was born in London in 1950. She studied at Byam Shaw School of Art 1989-92. Her first solo show was at the Gallery at John Jones, London 1995 and her most recent ones have been Paradise Alone Winchester College, Ferens Art Gallery Hull and St Edmund Hall Oxford 2001-3 and Immense Dawn Paul Stolper Gallery London 2003. In 2004 she showed in Presence: Images of Christ for the 3rd Millennium St. Paul’s Cathedral London.