Whether you’re thinking of leaving the UK for a holiday this summer or are more in the “I’ll wait until next year” camp, there’s no doubt we’re all craving a change of scenery. British portrait artist Ania Hobson knows that feeling only too well and her latest series, Escape, looks at the way we’ve coped with the stress of isolation and change brought on by the global pandemic.

On show at London’s Gillian Jason Gallery this September, the 25 new works investigate the themes of change, forced introspection, and friendship as her lead characters go on a physical journey in cars as drivers and/or passengers. With her subjects relaxed and unaware of us, there’s a sense of freedom in Hobson’s portraits, a freedom we’ve not enjoyed for some time.

Throughout the series, Hobson shows us unusual perspectives by granting us a bird’s eye view or a low vantage point, which gives her subjects both an elongated and weighty, imposing quality. They ask us to consider where the subjects are on their journey and whether we see ourselves sitting alongside them, enjoying that sense of escape. Look closely and you’ll notice there’s expansive space within the paintings, a feature that references Hobson’s Suffolk where she grew up and still resides.

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

“Working as a portrait artist allows me to explore the sitters own personal narratives and histories,” explains Hobson. “I wanted to create a sense of intimacy, to allow the viewer to get a better understanding of the subject’s emotions, their longings or fears. The paintings in this exhibition are both modest and profound at the same time.”

It’s clear the series of paintings is a response to recent times. The clothes worn are very deliberate, reflecting Hobson’s contemporaries. Oversized coats, platform boots, beanie hats, not overtly or traditionally feminine – Hobson celebrates her female subjects as strong and independent millennial women.

While offering us a tantalising dose of freedom, you could say Hobson’s works are also the perfect antidote to our fast-paced, technology-obsessed world. Each painting celebrates the little moments we often take for granted, the simple pleasures of life, forcing us to reflect on the pandemic and, indeed, our own lives.

Escape by Ania Hobson launches at London’s Gillian Jason Gallery this September.

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

From the series Escape © Ania Hobson

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