New Paintings by Ilsa Capper – Heart of the Forest
Private & Public Gallery – Preview Evening Friday 15th November from 5pm to 8pm


In 1980 the British gothic rock band The Cure released ‘A Forest’ which went on to become their most enduring single and the subliminal soundtrack of an angst ridden generation. This haunting melody plugged into collective psychological fears of the dark, loss and loneliness and created a consistently evocative mood by way of sparse musical arrangements and plaintive vocals buried deep within the reverb-laden mix.

Once the track had been recorded the lead singer Robert Smith said “It wasn’t something to elate you, it was something to really make you think.”

Real forests operate within our memory as mysterious places. In legends and fairy tales they are inhabited by shadowy creatures, symbols of all of the dangers with which young people must contend if they are to become adults. It is a place of testing, a realm of darkness holding the secrets of nature which we must penetrate to find meaning and in analytical psychology the forest represents feminity in the eyes of a young man, an unexplored realm full of the unknown.
In conversation the artist Ilsa Capper states;

The forest is really a metaphor for a journey into the unknown, conjuring the imagery used in fairy tales and myth movies, computer games and gothic music. It’s wonderful and terrifying and totally immersive. When I paint I am in a process of building up and breaking down the images in order to rethink and push the painting further. Every painting is a long process of decisions which take it one way or another and, in a way, it’s like being in a dense forest, submerged, but not really ever completely sure where things are leading”.

In the months before this exhibition Ilsa Capper’s daily studio routine started with drawings and sketches of cocoa forests which then developed into larger paintings. Elements of these drawings were then used to stain the canvas with oil paint to create a basic structure or skeleton. These structures were then pushed further by using different applications of paint techniques and colour which allowed a rich and colourful variation across each canvas in a style and finish which created remarkable visual sensations.

I am captivated by forests and find them truly magnificent. I love walking through any forest or woodland. It feels wonderful. The woods outside Dinan have fungus which only grows on trees where the air is completely pure. The smell in those woods is incredible.”- Ilsa Capper.

It is this intense appreciation of the power of nature that has delivered the remarkable works contained within this exhibition but unlike The Cure’s dark and claustrophobic pop anthem Ilsa Capper has made paintings that are bright, colourful and celebratory and which ultimately are about desire, expectation, love and indulgence. The use, by the artist, of cocoa forests as the inspiration for these paintings is a deliberate and strategic signifier within the exhibition.

Chocolate is the only substance on the planet we know of which releases the same hormones and sensations as being in love. I think that is amazing and why we consume it the way we do….. and those cocoa forests are our love drug”.

Ilsa Capper was born in Jersey before studying Fine Art at Central St. Martins and Chelsea School of Art in London. Having worked in London for many years she has now returned to Jersey and this is her first solo exhibition at Private & Public Space.

Thank you to our exhibition sponsors Charles Yorke and also to the chef Dylan Suttie who has created a set of bespoke chocolates inspired by Ilsa Capper’s paintings especially for the preview evening.

Chris Clifford, Gallery Director, says “Ilsa Capper’s paintings are certainly enigmatic. They hover between representation and abstraction and resemble places that feel both familiar and totally alien in equal measure. In this, our penultimate exhibition in Jersey in 2019, visitors to the gallery will be immersed in paintings that radiate bright colour, positive energy, sunlight and everything that is great about the natural world in its purest form. In many ways a visit to our gallery spaces will be the perfect antidote to the endless rain and shorter days that have characterised our weather of late”.