Royal Academician painter Jeffrey Camp is remembered in this year’s Summer Exhibition through the display of two paintings which illustrate the breadth of his distinctive visual language.
The English coastal landscape – particularly Camp’s childhood home of Lowestoft, Suffolk – was a constant source of inspiration for the artist. After moving to Hastings in the 1960s, Camp discovered Beachy Head and, fascinated by its dramatic qualities, painted it numerous times, often including himself and his wife (also an artist) in the composition, referencing the romance and tension of human relationships. Camp also liked to use unusually shaped canvases, sometimes working within an irregular, circular or diamond format saying: ‘My pictures are asymmetrical. The odd shapes more easily contain a variety of thoughts.’
As his practice developed Camp’s figurative style became more expressive featuring areas of abstraction, as seen in this large-scale tumultuous painting where figures are barely discernible amongst the coastal rocks. Often creating a ‘scratchy’ surface with dry paint, he intentionally left parts of the canvas bare; these raw surfaces became an important part of the works, contrasting with the blue tones of the skies and oceans that so often dominated his works.
Camp taught at the Slade School in London 1963-88. He exhibited widely throughout his career; his work was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at South London Art Gallery in 1973 and the Serpentine Gallery in 1978. Michael Richardson at Art Space Gallery, London, regularly presented his work. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1984 and the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, hosted his 90th birthday exhibition in 2013. Camp lived in South London from 1981 onwards, where he died peacefully at home on 5th April 2020.