Delicate Bonds | Lychee One

A small painting, oil on linen, stood out to me this week. It’s called Over Hillsides, and was painted by the British artist Sammi Lynch. It was on show at Lychee One, next to London Fields station; I saw it on the exhibition’s last afternoon, and was glad I did.

Lynch draws her landscapes from life with pastels, then paints from that. Her trick, repeated across the handful of works on show at Lychee One, is to suggest great variations of texture through very thin layers of oil paint. In Over Hillsides, pictured below, the skeletal white plant is meant to be in the extreme foreground, and is layered over ridges of hills, water, sky. We see for miles. A house, made tiny from distance, in one of the valleys. fixes the composition.

Sammi Lynch ‘Over Hillsides’ (2024)

Looked at from the side though, this small painting almost disappears. There’s hardly anything to it. We can see the weave of the linen that underlies these infinite layers.

Lynch paints from life, so she must have seen these hills, that house. A scene of unimaginably complex interlocking of natural patterns, seasons, light, the intervention of man. And it’s all fixed on a small canvas with a few colour fields of oil paint.

“This exhibition exudes a peacefulness which is shadowed by a recognition that every passing moment is replete with the power of change,” the show notes claim. That’s one way to look at it: Lynch’s landscape is a distillation of enormous forces into something very physically insubstantial, which somehow suggests that enormity. Quite an achievement.

Delicate Bonds is at Lychee One (London). 21 March - 20 April 2024