Cantering off the canvas - the wild world of Freddy Paske

One of Britain’s most exciting artists, former army officer and now award-winning artist Freddy Paske has a brand new exhibition opening this month, (from 29th November -22nd December) at one of the UK’s foremost equine art galleries – Osborne Studio Gallery in London’s Belgravia.

Ahead of the opening, we caught up with Freddy to find out more about his latest exhibition and what inspires his work...

How did the solo exhibition with the Osborne Studio Gallery come about?

A previous group of paintings featuring racehorses prompted Osborne, one of the UK’s foremost galleries specialising in equine art, to offer Freddy a second exhibition this year. In order to build up a new body of horse-related art, Freddy became artist-in-residence for some of our core equestrian institutions, namely the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the Jockey Club and Tattersalls, and the result is some very exciting work that in our view really captures the grace, elegance and power of the horse.

What is the most important aspect Freddy tries to capture in a painting?

Capturing movement is one of the key tenets of Freddy’s work, and some of his most arresting images are where the surging racehorses appear to be jumping a hedge straight off the canvas towards the viewer.

Showing the sheer power of the animals in a way that a photograph just can’t replicate is also something Freddy is keen to demonstrate in each of his pieces, and he is constantly testing and developing new techniques in order to perfect this process.

So how does he go about creating his work?

Unlike a bowl of fruit assembled for a still-life, animals are constantly on the move and capturing their essence while also retaining enough detail is something Freddy cites as a real challenge. As a result, Freddy’s method is to predominantly sketch from life, filling up sketchbook after sketchbook as it’s not always possible to tell initially which will ‘work’ as a finished piece.

Often, a sketch that had previously shown a distinct lack of promise (in Freddy’s eyes) will turn into a real success story when translated onto canvas. To capture the detail, Freddy also takes thousands of photos to make sure he can accurately replicate parts such as the bridle on a racehorse.

Who are Freddy’s biggest inspirations?

Unsurprisingly, painting is a real passion for Freddy and the hunt to find the new and original, be it in terms of techniques, colour palettes or composition has led to Freddy citing an eclectic group of artists as the inspirations behind his work.

Alfred Munnings – one of the most deservedly famous painters of equine art, Freddy tries to spend as much time in the excellent Munnings Museum in Suffolk as possible, studying Munnings’ unique use of colour – the influence of which can clearly be seen in Freddy’s work.

Christian Hook – renowned for both his portraiture and equine art, his unique compositional ideas really resonate with Freddy, as does the work of;

Emily Lamb – best known for her innovative compositions capturing the essence of such varied subjects as African wildlife and polo matches.

Where would Freddy like to visit/paint next?

With so many creative ideas he’d like to execute, “anywhere off the beaten track” is his first answer, as his desire to carve a niche creating work from alternative environments sees him struggle to name just one place he’d like to go next, although when pressed, Freddy does acknowledge a particular hankering for Afghanistan.

As a former officer in the Light Dragoons who has completed tours of frontline duty in Afghanistan, you might imagine there are other places Freddy would prefer to return to. However, following a hugely successful exhibition of military images documenting his time there with the Army, the raw beauty of the landscapes, the abundance of life to be found there, as well as a not insubstantial taste for adventure, sees Freddy hankering to return.

His initial thoughts are of creating a similar integrated media project along the lines of the highly successful The Bigger Picture exhibition of earlier this year, where he worked in collaboration with a photographer (also ex-army) and documentary filmmaker to both delight the senses and raise awareness of the battle for wildlife conservation going on in Zambia.

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