Artists >> Thorburn Will

Thorburn’s work combines both the decorative and the anatomical to create an intermediate space in which the organic and inorganic merge. Saturating the canvas with bright, clean colours, forms emerge suggestive of limbs, internal organs, and plants intertwined in ambiguous combinations.  Influenced equally by the palettes of the fauves and pop artists such as Tom Wesselmann, the paintings evoke sundrenched climates, the lime greens contrasting with brilliant oranges and deep crimson. The colours of southern France and Morocco infuse the paintings with a vivid energy.


Recent work simultaneously creates and resists a sense of depth; flat areas of colour dominate the canvases, yet arches and apertures intimate three-dimensional space. Palm trees, vines, and cacti surround fragments of reclining nudes and fractured bodies in indeterminate gardens and courtyards. These dissected figures are painted with a simplicity of form and vigour of line, at once innocent and unnerving. The forms have become simpler and looser, in comparison to the artist’s earlier, intricate paintings combining Persian rug designs with densely work anatomical imagery. The oil paint is applied in an increasingly loose and playful manner, as the colour palette has become more intense, reflecting the artist’s interest in the combination of the organic and synthetic.


In the words of the artist, ‘Colour is a key factor for me in my recent work. I spend each summer in the south of France and I realised where the unashamed exhuberance of colour used by artists like Matisse, Derain and Monet was coming from. I’m interested in breaking that down, unsettling it by combining imagery of opulence and fertility with anatomical references and science fiction-influenced forms. I want the pictures to develop a life of their own, and often think of working in the studio in relation to creating a garden; I take a lot of inspiration from images of Moroccan riad gardens taken on a trip there. With that relation to the organic, I want the pieces to have an unpredictability; I love the way Kirchner uses unexpected colour combinations, or Guston creates highly awkward compositions that are somehow incredibly effective.’

Born in 1983, Will Thorburn lives and works in London, UK. Having studied Critical Fine Art Practice at Brighton University, he completed his MA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in 2016. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions throughout the UK, including those at Schwartz Gallery, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, and Candid Arts Trust. He has also been featured at Art Miami and The Other Art Fair.

2014-2016 MA Central St Martins, London
2004-2007 BA Critical Fine Art Practice, University of Brighton


2017   Recent Works, Zetter Hotel, London
2017   Euroart Open Studios, Euroart Studios, London

2017   London Creative Network: Closing Exhibition, SPACE studios, London

2016   London Creative Network: Closing Exhibition, SPACE studios, London

2016   Hiding In Plain Sight, The Flying Dutchman, London

2016   Art Miami, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, Miami
2016   Dark Arts, Candid Arts Trust, London
2016   Random Orange, Schwartz Gallery, London
2016   Do Undo Redo, Central St Martins, London  
2015   I Own All Your Secrets, Central St Martins, London
2015   The Frivolous Now, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, London  
2015   You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly, The Laundry, London  
2013   The Other Art Fair, The Old Truman Brewery, London
2013   Ultra: online catalogue launch  
2013   Analogue, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, London  
2012   Against Nature: online catalogue launch  
2012   Spring Contemporary, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, London  
2011   Endings, Gallery 27 and 28, London  
2011   Summer Contemporary, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, London  
2010   Untitled (Parts 1 and 2), Windsor House, London
2010   Living Ornaments, Gallery 27, London
2009   Our Friendship Has Great Potential, Acquire Arts, London
2008   The Way Of All Flesh, Grosvenor Way Warehouse Studio, London
2008   Open Studio, Norlington Road, London
2007   The Hole In The Brambles, Start Gallery, Brighton

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