Hans Alf Gallery has represented Natasha Kissell since the gallery was established in 2006. In her newest exhibition, the South African-born, English painter has created a series that centers around the swimming pool as a social and architectural phenomenon.
“Swimming Pool” is a collection of paintings evoking a life of leisure and endless summers.
Kissell lived her first 8 years in South Africa where, as Hockney found in LA, swimming pools were not just for the super wealthy, but were widely owned and enjoyed. While Hockney preferred to depict beautiful young men lounging by his pools, Kissell’s paintings are noticeably devoid of humans. For the painter’s own childhood lacked any real adult company, and she and her brother brought themselves up with 2 working parents largely absent in their lives.
The nostalgia she feels for her home country is played out in these utopian worlds, ideal escapes, better perhaps in the mind’s eye or in memory. The paintings fit well in the Impressionist tradition, where, for the first time, modern life meant that leisure time was available to not just the rich but also to the working classes, who could enjoy the banks of the Seine or public parks, picnicking and sitting in the sun. Similarly, Kissell points to a world where leisure and escape is part of society, a right, an ideal and something to be sought after.
So, it is both the longing, the nostalgia and the absence of the human form that give these paintings their particular and original feel.