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James Marshall

10 Nov 2022

The Dichotomy of Lizzie Thurman's Paintings


An insight into the abstracted familiarity of Artist Lizzie Thurman's paintings, expressions and current exhibition.

From her humble abode in Shropshire, internationally exhibiting Artist (and sometimes teacher) Lizzie Thurman produces abstract, yet familiar paintings which appear to have a complementary dichotomy.  Like many artists, Thurman studied at Central Saint Martins before working prolifically in the textile and design industries.  Although working with major brands and influential leaders, painting beckoned Thurman back to her earlier years - resulting in a highly educative process for both the viewer and the artist.

Whilst Thurman finds difficulty adopting the ‘intellectual artist’ tagline, she makes no avoidance to state the intellectual process encountered during painting.  After all, her work carries a theme of familiar dichotomy which could only come from rigorous practice, research and reflection.  Figuratively speaking, one could argue there is an extra-terrestrial likening within her work, whilst another may detect the vessel forms.  With no studies or rigorous planning, the figurative elements are a byproduct of Thurman’s lifelong experience working with shape and form to produce a window into her emotional, experiential and evolving practice.

We’ve all encountered a ‘head vs heart’ moment.  Contrasting intelligence with emotional feelings has remained consistent throughout many centuries, yet this dichotomy is rarely intellectualised past a moment of trouble or uncertainty.  Thurman however, uses the notion of head and heart throughout her work.  “There’s always a running stream - connectivity between the two.”  Referencing her work, specifically in relation to her unplanned paintings, she states: “The head can push boundaries beyond what the heart can, so trying to find a symbiosis between the two is the challenge, as well as a meditation for myself.”  Thurman works in complete silence - having to leave her studio for dance and music breaks to contrast the quiet.  It seems that this process provides a highly personal and connective process for the artist in bridging her own dichotomy of head and heart.  The paintings are an aesthetically striking addition to this process.

In her latest exhibition at the J/M Gallery, Portobello Road, Thurman brings forth a variety of paintings on paper.  There is an evident conversation between the works on show, each of which is worked on independently.  The familiar shapes and forms provide an abstractly comforting aura which Thurman is best known for.  Each painting opens a portal into the dichotomous relationship of both Thurman’s balance of head versus heart, whilst inciting personal connections and relationships to balance and comfort. The work is on show until the 15th of November at the J/M Gallery, 230 Portobello Road.

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