Hastings-born, London-based painter Nathan Jones is principally known for his realist paintings inspired by Japanese printmaking. Having been fascinated by visual arts since childhood, Nathan studied for an art foundation at Hastings College, a Fine Art degree in Painting at Cheltenham, and a Masters in Painting at Wimbledon School of Art (2004). Now living in London, he frequently returns to Hastings where his family continue to live.
Nathan has worked professionally as an artist since 2004, and his paintings are increasingly sought after by a growing list of private and corporate collectors in London, New York, and Asia. Recently added to the prestigious Soho House permanent collection, his work is now on display in their prominent venue on Dean Street, in Soho, London. His work continues to be displayed widely in public exhibitions, and previous shows include The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2014 & 2016) and The Saatchi Gallery (2018).
Nathan’s paintings combine the rich history of Japanese nineteenth-century woodblock printmaking with the realist oil-painting tradition of Western Art. He borrows the Eastern pictorial devises of simplification, abstraction, and decoration, yet retains the exacting realism found in the West, especially in paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Both the Japanese and Dutch artists frequently depicted birds, flowers, and other natural phenomena – which symbolize the beautiful, yet fleeting, nature of human existence.
‘Because I have always been fascinated by the ambiguous boundary between the real and fake, I found myself drawn to the Japanese “ukiyo-e” prints, which translates as “pictures of the floating transitory world”. These prints inspired many Western artists around 1900, from Whistler, Degas and Van Gogh, to the Symbolist and Decadent Poets. In my paintings, I use a number of techniques to capture the unreal qualities of the prints – such as the flattening of space and the repetition of decorative motifs – and set these “unnatural” elements against birds that are detailed and realistic.’
This synergy of Eastern and Western traditions lies at the heart of Nathan’s latest paintings. The influence of the Japanese ukiyo-e prints provides not only fresh territory in which to explore further, but also new possibilities for reconsidering the Western mode of representation.