Jeremy Houghton is a British painter whose work attempts to capture movement. With a career marked by contrasting experiences and places (he studied in France and then worked for a number of years in South Africa), as well as a long-standing commitment to the countryside, Houghton’s work spans a broad spectrum – from the arresting drama of dynamic sports to the quiet, unhurried pace of traditional rural life. Regardless of subject, there is always an enthusiasm for communicating the individual qualities of a person, event or place.
Since he began to paint full-time in the mid-2000s, Houghton has divided his practice between creating standalone pieces in the studio using reference photographs and sketches, and producing work through documentary residences. Over the last ten years he has been invited to detail the life of a number of high-profile communities, from those at Windsor Castle and Highgrove to Ben Ainslie’s team challenging for the America’s Cup, and the competitors at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. With each of these projects Houghton is interested in getting beyond public perception, documenting instead the everyday scenes that characterise an event or place.
Although Houghton’s focus ranges quite widely, his technique remains a constant. His precise deployment of areas of white canvas, or unpainted paper, against areas of liquid colour enables his subjects to shimmer in the liminal territory between figuration and abstraction. With extraneous detail removed, the paintings are also hard to place, giving them an ahistorical quality that serves to underline their fluidity.
Houghton continually explores the potential of negative space to represent light, and often references ma, the concept in Japanese aesthetics that translates roughly as ‘gap’ or ‘pause’, and which in traditional practice helps balance the relationship between different areas of an image. This focus on the space between things lends his paintings, even when they are of something as solid as a bullock or a racing boat, a surprising delicacy. Houghton holds his subjects on a very thin, almost invisible line between motion and the ability to transcend time.
MA by Research, Fine Art, University of Gloucestershire, UK (www.glassground.com)
Postgraduate Diploma, Fine Art, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Studied for a BA in Fine Art, University of Aix Marseille, France (unfinished due to job offer in Cape Town)
Summer Foundation course, The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London, UK
LLB Honours, Law, University of Exeter, UK