To coincide with the exhibition ‘The Art of Chichester Festival Theatre: A Celebration' the Garden Gallery features two paintings by the contemporary history painter Tom de Freston, whose work often explores subjects from drama and literature. The paintings are part of a series that was commissioned by the British Shakespeare Association in 2011.
De Freston's painting ‘Elizabeth Siddal as Ophelia' depicts the Pre-Raphaelite muse and artist floating in the bath as she modelled for John Everett Millais' iconic painting ‘Ophelia' (1852) based on a scene from ‘Hamlet'. ‘Lear and the Fool' presents a grotesque, excessively dramatic scene from the tragedy of ‘King Lear', with a variety of painting styles that bridge abstraction and figuration in order to present dark visions of humanity.
In the words of Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate: ‘De Freston's paintings are confirmation that contemporary art is still able to offer a new and engaging reflection on themes that have fascinated artists for centuries.' The paintings are accompanied by poems in response by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.