Jeremy Houghton is a British artist whose work attempts to capture extraordinary journeys. With a career marked by contrasting experiences and places, as well as a long-standing commitment to wildlife and the countryside, Houghton’s work spans a broad spectrum – from the arresting drama of dynamic sports to the ever changing patterns of migrating flamingos.
Since he began to paint full-time in the mid-2000s, Houghton has divided his practice between creating standalone pieces in the studio using reference photographs and sketches, and producing work via documentary residences. Over the last ten years he has been invited to detail the life of a number of high-profile communities, from those at Windsor Castle and Highgrove to last year’s Wimbledon championships, and the competitors at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. With each of these projects Houghton is interested in getting beyond public perception, documenting instead the everyday scenes that characterise an event or place.
Although Houghton’s focus ranges quite widely, his technique remains a constant. Emphasis on painted shapes of light and space contrasting against areas of colour enables his subjects to shimmer in the liminal territory between figuration and abstraction. With extraneous detail removed, the paintings are also hard to place, giving them an ahistorical quality that serves to underline their fluidity.
Houghton continually explores the potential of negative space, and often references ‘ma’, the concept in Japanese aesthetics that translates roughly as ‘gap’ or ‘pause’, and which in traditional practice helps balance the relationship between different areas of an image. This focus on the space between things lends his paintings a surprising combination of abundance and delicacy. His subjects are then held on a very thin, almost invisible line between motion and the ability to transcend time.