Oliver Jeffers’ painting blows the night sky into a bouquet – and a message


The exhibition at the Praise Shadows Art Gallery on Harvard Street reflects Jeffers’ new approach to a longstanding theme in his work: cosmology. By pairing objects such as burning stars and a spinning universe with Earth’s mundane anchor, the artist powerfully juxtaposes the magnificence of our sky with the pedestrian.

His new works, including one more than seven feet wide, offered Jeffers a new direction as his visual style leaned toward the unique world of his book illustrations. His choice of medium was also important: for the first time in his fine art practice, he used acrylic instead of oil.

Also, the works are on panels rather than canvases. There are also two new interactive “mechanical paintings” that showcase bright stars through old-fashioned levers activated by the viewer.

© Oliver Jeffers

According to Jeffers: “The worlds beyond our world, their cues only show up when our daytime light becomes low enough to see dramatic and colorful skies after dusk, suggesting that our An incomprehensible expanse overhead.

“These are people who are tired of finding what’s on the radio, wondering when our internet purchases will arrive, or what activities we’ll be using this weekend to pass the time. Maybe there’s more to living than We give ourselves time and perspective to enjoy.”

While his art may be otherworldly, Jeffers’ inspiration is rooted in the realities of human society. Born in Belfast (he currently lives between there and Brooklyn) during a troubled time, he has a deep suspicion of nationalism, patriotism and isolationism.

As such, his art reveals powerful stories of artificial boundaries and how people treat others. In this case, Jeffers uses the construction of constellations to take a longer-lens approach to the human story.

Jeffers’ paintings remind us that we often forget our place in the wider universe, and that the pictures we create of the star arrangement in the night sky only make sense from the narrow perspective of Earth. Above all, Jeffers aims to show, tell, and remind that this is the most urgent story humanity needs to unite, given the strangeness of Earth that people seem to be unable to comprehend.

Oliver Jeffers.Mark Azoulay Photography

Oliver Jeffers.Mark Azoulay Photography

The paintings in The Night in Bloom relate to Jeffers’ massive public art initiative called Our Place in Space, a 9km walkable sculpture trail that has been shown at several locations across the UK this year. It shows a scale model of our solar system, where the sun is 3 meters wide, the Earth is 500 meters the size of a ping-pong ball, and Pluto is 8.5 kilometers further away, the size of a match head.

Seeing distances in our universe, on this scientifically accurate scale, encourages us to look back at humanity from great distances and question how we divide ourselves, arguing over different stories and identities.

Bloom Night is open to the public June 3-July 10 at the Praise Shadows Art Gallery, 313A Harvard Street, Brookline, Boston, 02446 (Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm).

A special public show and artist talks co-presented by Praise Shadows and Brookline Booksmith will take place on Sunday 5 June at 12pm at the Coolidge Corner Theatre (opposite the gallery), with private access to gallery exhibition ticket holders 10.30-11.30am.


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