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Four Trees oliver-bancroft-four-trees.jpg

Four Trees

Item Code: OB-95527
Acrylic and oil on canvas
Date of Work
Signed verso
Height (cm)
Width (cm)
Oil and acrylic on canvas.

'Four spindly trunked trees stand against a backdrop of broadly gold/amber colour, smoothly applied, which glows because of the acrylic underpainting, rather as gold leaf might be used by the late medieval/early Renaissance Italian masters Bancroft admires. He has virtually abandoned perspective here, as he so often does: the trees float, untethered; one even rises from the waters of the lake. Their topiaried, rounded crowns are like fluffy, green balls; the largest has little yellow highlights like candles. A thin half moon of blue bisects the painting, evoking an ornamental lake; the whole has something of a stage set about it.
The lower half of the painting, however, is altogether more perplexing. It is covered with shapes of many kinds, all outlined carefully in red. They cluster together but also appear singly, by turns conjuring up images of standing stones, gravestones, hooded figures, geometric shapes, even a coffin. Trickles of paint run down the canvas between them like tears. Are they memorials, a gathering beneath the trees, or the phantasmagoria of dreams? Bancroft himself has indicated that they are in part responses to what seemed to be appearing on the canvas as he worked, forms emerging from the processual language of creation.
There is also a dialogue here with the work of other artists, and their iconographies. The hieratic trees and lake are a clear reference to Piero della Francesca’s St. Jerome in Penance (1450), while the enigmatic shapes, some rolling and tipped sideways, startlingly conjure up the blindfolded, decapitated heads rolling on the ground in Fra Angelico’s The Martyrdom of Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian (c.1440). Yet Bancroft’s ‘heads’ have no such obvious cultural referents to their silent witness; the viewer must draw on her or his own imaginative lexicon to read the painting.'
Hilary Davies, August 2021.
Oliver Bancroft PortraitBorn in Cambridge in 1976, Oliver Bancroft is recognised to be one of the outstanding painters of his generation. He has exhibited internationally and over the last two decades has become a feted filmmaker, with selections by Tacita Dean and shown in various venues including the Pompidou, Paris.
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