Copyright  Nathan Eastwood 2020

A New Social Based Realism

Paper by Giuseppe Marasco


£10,000 East London Painting Prize Heralds the return of the 'Real'.


The Exhibition Work/Leisure/Freedom at the Nunnery Gallery is part of the Post Olympics Legacy List Programs. This is particularly reaching out to audiences that would normally not attend art exhibitions; typically, very local persons of 15-20 years residence. The Nunnery Gallery has been very successful in attracting the visitor numbers attending their new program of exhibitions, proving to be very strong, popular and critical successes.  


The inaugural Prize Winner, Nathan Eastwood has been said by Bow Arts to be the perfect ambassador for the East London Painting Prize. Nathan Eastwood is the perfect match to drawing in a demographic normally completely untouched by the Arts offerings.  


Nathan Eastwood paints in a New Social Realist style, Critical of the Neo-Liberal Visual arts Culture and its foisted beauty. His work has come about through an extraordinary commitment and belief in the sign that his work makes to society at large. He may be a Jack Monroe of painting, he certainly has the conscience, having won the prize money while improvised and faced with the challenges of raising a young family.  


Eastwood, whose studio is in Bethnal Green, commented that reading the Novel ‘The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists’ by Robert Tressell; widely regarded as a classic of working-class literature, "Had been too difficult at times, because of the self recognition of my own situation".  


Eastwood had previously exhibited as a finalist at the prestigious John Moores Painting Prize in 2012, at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, his wife Fiona took her turn this year exhibiting there as a finalist. Eastwood was also a finalist at the Threadneedle Painting Prize 2013.  


Nathan Eastwood speaks from the heart, his personable quality very much in evidence during the opening night speeches of his Solo Show Work/Leisure/Freedom. I believe his images will produce an effect of recognition and ownership in the Citizens of Tower Hamlets where Eastwood works and Newham where he lives.  


Nathan Eastwood, is a post-internet artist, his working method of using a camera phone speaks to the millennial youth. Eastwood is a highly active user of Social Media in building, sharing and opening up the practise of fellow artist to a social awareness.  


Eastwood's work migrates easily between Social Media and Social Realism. His work is of interest to 'millennial youth' readers who consume and search for news in an autonomous way and those looking for a renewal of politics and the Arts.  


Eastwood uses two devices that provide a critical distance from the image making and viewing process, the first step is the use of a camera phone, taking photos of London and Domestic scenes, the second Humbrol Enamel paint, an unusual medium typically used as model paints for toys.  


Constructed to demystify the process of and make as accessible possible a method to making paintings. Eastwoods purpose is to communicate to as wide public as possible the materiality of the medium and the unique transformation that occurs in the discipline of its special scrutiny.    


Eastwood is now shifting his practice, taking on subjects that highlight Glo-cal subjects, (at once global and local).  Painting a Satellite dish, light bulb and other iconic mass produced household objects that suggest how the global economic has pervaded and impacted into the domestic as well as into every other sphere of contemporary life.

Eastwood's work is positioned in a criticism of the atrophy of visual-literacy through the effects of Neoliberalism. The profitable elision from scrutiny. Supporting a bubble reality.  This article links the kinship of Eastwood's work to citizen journalism, spring revolutions and the liberty of Camera phones.  


Eastwood as a post-internet painter is switched on to the sentiments challenging the demands of a new politics from Westminster. Eastwood is further positioned within criticisms of art schools and the art market. Questioning the production of desire. His painting is geared particularly for those wanting a pulse on contemporary British life and wanting an alternative answer to UKIP's pull.  


Nathan wins back time, through his working method, the use of Humbrol paint in its thick and difficult application purposefully slows him down, he details of the phenomena of persistence.  Covering, noticing all the details and scenes that we all might see on the way to work, (or play) that we register and discard as for another time, for someone else.  Invisible Scenes, which we all forget, remembered with a lurch. Alerted to our swift unconscious repressions. Eastwood paints quotidian scenes from which the pre-crunch years in wilful blindness turned away from wilful blindness of recent years. Laudable is the all of life, approach of Nathan Eastwood. Nothing is too humble to be overlooked or forgotten about.  


Many of Eastwood's qualities are found in the painting Folding Up, where a kinship with minimalist is evident. On display is the artists’ ability to find beauty all around us. Thoughts of Eva Hesse come to mind, as well as that of the Danish master Vilhelm Hammershoi. One can't help but feel that there is a mystery unfolding before us. This painting perhaps best illustrates the fold that occurs in the Art of Nathan Eastwood. Where in the everyday, the extraordinary is present.  


In the manner that it was the Romantic Movement that educated us widely, to recognise that sunset as beautiful. We are reminded that beauty is a project of the self, and is the state that one is in at a given moment. So that only but an excuse, a liberated moment is necessary. It might be worth considering that this is indeed a most necessary component of well being denied to the public, through economic circumstance as well as loss of social capital in these immaterial 'objects'. Writers might understand this an inner moment of contentment from which ones own contents effortlessly spring. Eastwood's beauty leads us to consider of the easy shorthand repetition and unfortunate fate of sunsets, in terms of the emptying out of meaning, through advertising and various reproducible communication mediums, (film etc). To the point that, sunsets seem laughable.  


What dire state, that we are in as a culture, where the Sun could be deemed ugly, in so flippant a manner.  What occurs is the passive displacement of our day to day vocabulary and possibilities of invention blocked by inhibiting behaviour of repetition.  


In Eastwood's achingly beautiful Zurbarán-like painting of a single pigeon engulfed in darkness. It was painted at a particularly dark moment in Eastwood's life, and is a painting both powerfully visceral and existential in its quietness.  


The history of art has always shown that it is the smallest and simplest of things that cause earthquakes, and show nakedly the reactionary positions. Eastwood rescues beauty so that we can find it and our attentions in new locations.  But also wrestles control of our social linguistic literacy. All this is done by simple, but thoughtful moves.