Extraordinarily original, immediate and totally contemporary. - (Sir Trevor Nunn)

Tom de Freston’s solo exhibition at the The Globe presents a selection of new large scale paintings produced over the last two years, continuing the artist’s engagement with tragedy in literature. William Shakespeare’s plays have long been a rich source of inspiration for de Freston’s ongoing experiments with essential themes of humanity such as self-­‐reflection, conflict, loss, fear and mortality. The artist responds to the Shakespearean presentation of humanity as a ‘poor forked animal’. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1590 – 1596), King Lear (1603 – 1606) and Macbeth (1603 – 1607) are widely drawn upon in this body of work, with recognisable nods to Lear and The Fool in the storm and Gloucester at the cliffs of Dover. Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem (1914) has also served as a key influence on de Freston’s recent practise, contributing new fragments to his interdisciplinary approach.

De Freston presents a series of tableaux staged across individual paintings, evoking the scenography of an overarching narrative. Protagonists command the abstracted space with dramatic gesture and pose, conjuring the Shakespearean canon of epic heroes. Catalytic moments are intensified by tumultuous backdrops which dissolve into abstraction, vigorously enhancing the frozen moment at hand. Urgent action is called for as figures teeter on vertiginous precipices and chessboard stages. De Freston’s cast of characters sets itself in motion, as a play to be read across the collection.

Tom de Freston was commissioned by The British Shakespeare Association to produce a body of paintings in response to Shakespeare’s plays in 2010. These were unveiled in September 2011 and toured extensively, including a solo exhibition at Pallant House, Chichester and The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Tokyo. De Freston’s exhibition at the Globe coincides with a solo exhibition at  Breese Little, London from 13th November 2013 – 11th January 2014, which will showcase a further selection of recent work. This exhibition is accompanied by a full exhibition catalogue with a foreword by Simon Martin, Head of Collections and Exhibitions, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, and an essay by Christiana Spens, novelist and PhD candidate, University of St Andrews. Please contact the gallery for details.

Tom de Freston (born 1983, UK) lives and works in Oxford. De Freston graduated from Cambridge University (MA Cantab History of Art) in 2007 and Leeds Metropolitan University (BA Fine Art) in 2005. Selected solo exhibitions include The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University, Tokyo (2012), On Theatre,  Breese Little, London (2012), Shakespeare Paintings, Pallant House, Chichester (2012), The Hatley Residency, The Centre for Recent Drawing, London (2012), On Falling, Breese Little, London (2011), Scavengers: Paintings and Poems in Response to Shakespeare, Cambridge University Shakespeare Conference, Cambridge (2011) and A Brief History of Heroism, Platform 1 Gallery, London (2009). Selected group exhibitions include Manski, Cohen, de Freston,  Breese Little (2013) and WEYA – World Event Young Artists, Nottingham (2012). De Freston’s work is featured in international collections including The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, The Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge University, The Public Catalogue Foundation, London and Christ’s College Chapel, Cambridge University. Selected publications include House of the Deaf Man by Andrea Porter and Tom de Freston, Gatehouse Press, 2012, Scavengers: Paintings and Poems in Response to the Plays of Shakespeare by Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Cambridge Shakespeare Conference, 2010, and Figuring Out Figurative Art: Contemporary Philosophers on Contemporary Painting, Acumen Publishing, 2014 (forthcoming).

Shakespeare's Globe
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