‘David Hockney once said that spring is “nature in action”,’ says the painter and fashion art director, Jonathan Schofield. ‘It’s a time where everything bursts into life, so I wanted to make a really bright, loud painting.’
Out of that drama and excitement Schofield created The Rites of Spring for the Jo Malone Spring Artist Series. In it, a woman reclines on a bed of green grass, with a jar of bright purple tulips in the foreground. A keen colourist, Schofield has applied the paint with great energy and dynamism and the vibrant colours seem to glow and dance across the canvas. ‘When you look at the painters who are known as masters of colour, like Van Gogh or Matisse, they tend to come from the grey places in northern Europe and then travel to the south of France,’ says Schofield of his fascination with colour. ‘I think that colour is more precious to you when you live somewhere like London, and that can work to your advantage as a painter.’
After years of being dominated by the provocative and aggressive conceptual art of the Young British Artists, Schofield believes that the popularity of his paintings, which have sold better than ever during lockdown, reflect a new mood in contemporary art. ‘My work is meant to be joyous and give people pleasure,’ he says. ‘I think pleasure is very underrated and a quite serious subject in many ways.’
Schofield’s career as an artist shows that it is never too late to blossom into your chosen vocation. After studying at the Royal College Of Art under the tutelage of Peter Doig, he worked primarily as an art director for fashion brands such as Stella McCartney, wrongly believing that life as an artist had passed him by. Six years ago, he decided to start painting seriously again. ‘When I was working as an art director, even though it wasn’t exactly the discipline that I wanted to do, I was still working and making images,’ he says describing the transition. ‘I think it was Andy Warhol who said just never stop working. I think that’s true, just keep working and one day you will get the time when you can do your personal projects.’
Schofield, who endured a tough lockdown after contracting Covid-19, thinks that the arrival of spring will be even more poignant this year. ‘I think Covid has forced us to really evaluate what matters in life,’ he says. ‘I think people are looking for the opposite of fast fashion and fast food. They want to be really invested in something, and hopefully, that will stay with us when we come out of it’.