Conrad Jon Godly

Terror, beauty and natural grandeur layered on canvas.

Artist sat behind his dog in his studio with two easels behind him
Ladder in studio covered with hanging cloths and scraps of paintings
artist in his studio with two large paintings behind him and holding a smaller framed painting
6 images

Conrad Jon Godly was born in 1962 in Davos, Switzerland, and went on to study at Basel School of Art.

Career

After his time at art school, Godly took an 18 year hiatus from painting. In this time, he worked as a professional photographer - predominantly in fashion and advertising.

Collections

Works placed in collections internationally such as the Daros Collection, UBS Bank, Credit Swiss and the Swiss National Bank.

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Practice overview

Having grown up surrounded by the Swiss Alps, there is a muscle-memory in Godly’s work. The canvases are almost sculptural, with lathered oil paint curling up from the surface and out of the frame. His bold gestural brush strokes, with a sharp minimalist sensibility, embody what the artist calls the ‘essence’ of his subjects: dramatic, unspoilt natural landscapes. The philosophy behind this ‘essence’ is captured in his 2019 show To See Is Not To Speak which takes its name from Japanese writer Kobayashi Hideo and expresses the notion that the deepest forms of knowledge cannot be communicated through language. #11 (2019) - a painting from the exhibition - shows a snowy peak shrouded by a heady haze of mist. From a distance, the painting could be a photograph but moving closer, the image dissolves into abstract colours and shapes. Creating a sense of mystery in the collapse of realism to abstraction, Godly alludes to the immaterial things in life that words cannot express.

Just as 19th century Romantics like Turner and Constable were consumed by nature’s power to alter the human state, Godly seeks an emotional truth embedded with landscapes. In the unavoidable context of the global environmental crisis, Godly’s paintings beg an urgent question: is contemporary landscape painting more terrifying than we bargained for? Submerged among veiling skies and foaming oceans, the ferocious beauty of Godly’s work reveals a slow, coercive brutality that confronts one’s own complicit violence. While anthropocentric tendencies have artificially separated humankind from nature, Godly’s paintings remind us that we are not only in Nature, but of it.

“A good painting can be a poem without words.”Conrad Jon Godly