Conrad Jon Godly

Conrad Jon Godly is a contemporary Romantic. Painting the essence of mountains, light and nature, his works embody the sublime and hold a humble serenity that offers quiet space for contemplation.

Just as Turner, Constable, Coleridge and Keats were consumed by nature’s power to alter the human state, Godly seeks an emotional truth that vast, unaltered landscapes have the capacity to elicit. Having grown up surrounded by the Swiss Alps, there is a muscle-memory in his paintings that bears an understanding of the landscapes’ physicality. 

  • Work in collections inc. Daros Collection, UBS Bank, Credit Swiss, Swiss National Bank
  • Solo show, To See is Not to Speak, at JD Malat Gallery, London, 2019
  • Solo show, Inside, at Gallery Shibunkaku, Kyoto and Tokyo, 2016
  • Solo show, Ten Years After, at Tony Wuethrich Satellite, Zurich, 2015
  • Group show, Between Heaven and Earth, at Gallery Shibunkaku, Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, 2014

With thick, lathered oil paint curling up from the surface and occasionally out of the frame, Godly’s work is almost sculptural. His brisk signature strokes have the dynamism of extreme weather conditions, highlighting the environment’s simultaneous potential for great beauty and disaster. The tenebrous ambience of his work is humbling and subsuming, evocative of his Romantic ancestors. However, the sharp, minimalistic sensitivity to colour and composition separates Godly’s paintings from those who have come before him, pulling his work into pertinent contemporary focus.

"I don't see myself as a landscape painter, I am interested in capturing the mood and feeling of light, or the reflection of the moon on snow"
"Painting is my life. Only a major health problem or death could stop me from painting"

To See Is Not To Speak, at Mayfair’s JD Malat Gallery in 2019, comprised fifteen atmospheric paintings of the Swiss Alps. The exhibition title, taken from Japanese writer Kobayashi Hideo, asserts the notion that the deepest forms of knowledge cannot be communicated through language. #11 is a snowy peak shrouded by a heady haze of mist. Whites, blues, blacks and greys merge in and out of each other creating dramatic rifts and angular slopes of the mountain-side. From a distance, the painting could be a photograph but moving closer, the image dissolves into abstract colours and shapes. In this full circle from realism to abstraction, reality becomes blurred and the truth of the painting no longer arises from its likeness to the subject but, instead, from the dizzying spirit that it exudes.

“My influence is nature itself”

In the unavoidable context of global environmental crisis, Godly’s paintings hold another, more pernicious essence. His sombre pallette and harsh stroke have an obtrusive sense of unease that begs the question: is our contemporary sublime 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 human desire for centrality within the universe has artificially separated us from nature, its awe and terror is derived from the ultimate totality of its power. In a world where this power is being challenged and exploited, Godly’s paintings remind us that we are not only in Nature, but of it.

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Conrad Jon Godly