Megan Rea

French press, 2021


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Oil on board
45 x 45 cm

Megan Rea

Megan is a painter living and working in East London. After finishing her degree at Edinburgh University she was awarded the John Kinross scholarship to spend two months in Florence drawing the architecture of the city.

‘My practice celebrates fictitious cityscapes in Italian frescoes by reimagining them as architectural fragments in their freshly painted state.


The preparatory technique involves finely blending newspaper with water, draining it, and rolling the pulp onto a smooth flat surface to dry. In some way, this reflects the arduous preparation of the frescoes where layers of plaster were applied before the outline of the composition, sinopie, was painted with an earth-coloured wash in preparation for the final thin layer of plaster, intonaco. The uneven porous surface of the handmade paper allows previous soft layers of paint to catch and be visible amongst the structured shapes of the completed piece.


The shallow perspective and disproportionate architectural forms in medieval Sienese and Florentine frescoes feed my compositions. The buildings stretch, weave or buckle to embody similar characteristics to the emotionally faced and animated figures painted straight onto the church walls. Early renaissance structures depicted in paintings by Fra Angelico and Giotto are re-envisaged in concertina form, enhancing the strength and vigor of the original buildings.


My paintings are developing to capture the romanticism of the 14th century frescoes that fuel my work. Bright dancing stars set a time and ribbons flow like water through the crenellations of towers mimicking the softness of materials hanging off the backs of the individuals. These elements further play with the perspective and scale of the architecture.


Volume and perspective are achieved in the fresco pieces with the subtle employment of light and shade and I have used colour washes to mimic the once vibrant, now friable appearance of the fresco cycles. This effect is enhanced by the dampened then dried newspaper and echoes the gradual decomposition of the plaster in a number of the fresco cycles.’

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