We are pleased to be featuring British artist Megan Rea and her enchanting paintings. Megan developed her affinity for frescoes after studying art history, architecture, and techniques in Italy. Her work is still greatly inspired by Florentine and Sienese cityscapes all while adding her own magic touch. Read more about Megan's time in Italy, her inventive creative practice, and more below!
Fierce Embrace, oil on handmade paper.
A Tempting Taste on the Tip of Your Tongue, oil on handmade paper.
A: My interest in Italian frescoes began during my time in Florence after being awarded the RSA John Kinross scholarship in 2017. I initially focused on the exterior of the Renaissance buildings, endlessly wandering the city and visiting every church I came across. After that my interest turned to the architecture and objects in frescoes painted on the church walls.
Q: What concepts/themes are you exploring in your practice?
A: What first drew me to medieval frescos was their disproportionate buildings and unrealistic perspective. The figures take center stage and so the depictions of domestic dwellings and the tops of grand palaces appear squashed to fit their designated space. I want to continue to play around with proportions and push them into further surreality.
Drenched in Tuscan Sunbeams, oil on handmade paper.
Q: Are the cities you paint real? Fictional? Somewhere within reach?
A: Most of my pieces are loosely based on frescos I’ve seen in Florence and Siena - some of which contain medieval buildings and landmarks that are still in existence today. My interpretations of them are fictional to make them my own. My paintings are fragments stripped of human life and focus instead on the uninhabited spaces and artifacts of life once lived. I have started to introduce more elements of movement to the buildings to reflect the strong narratives that the original frescos illustrate.
Q: When did you begin creating on handmade paper? Do you make it yourself or source it?
A: I started during 2020 when I no longer had access to a studio and had to make work at home. It was a good opportunity to rethink the materials I use in my practice and I tested out a few different surfaces before settling on handmade paper. I start by pulping torn newspaper with water, draining and then drying it in unconventional shapes to resemble preserved sections of fresco. The surface of the paper is pocked, catching previous layers of paint to give the appearance of a weathered plaster wall.