Pamela Golden: Thunderstruck at Marlborough Fine Art

The delightful Marlborough Fine Art Gallery is currently showcasing a new series of paintings by Chicago-born artist Pamela Golden under the title, Thunderstruck.

Golden was inspired to create the paintings by both real and imagined images of Iraq from the past and present. The title of the exhibition, Thunderstruck is taken from the AC/DC song that American soldiers played whilst bombing in the Iraq war. The titles of each painting are taken from names of specific battles and from heavy metal songs that were played during the raids, including Phantom Linebacker, Enter Sandman, and Centaur Rodeo.

The paintings heavily feature red and orange in their colour schemes. These deep, fiery colours represent not only the war and the bloodshed in the scenes and places that are depicted but are also in reference to the blistering heat and the burnt sandy backdrop of the deserts.

In the paintings, the horrific scenes of war are juxtaposed against scenes showing the magical and enchanting lives of Iraqi culture, including snippets from myths and stories. The paintings offer poignant insight into the effects of war on people and places, by showing great contrasts between paintings. ‘Soprano Sunset’ shows a couple riding on a magic flying carpet across the skies, while ‘Mustang Flex’ also shows people riding on a flying carpet, while a wild mustang gallops across the ground below against a background full of explosions and chaos. The emotions of fear and escape are apparent in all subjects in this painting.

The exhibition is both enchanting and shocking. It proposes questions about how we perceive the world and our problems in it. The works also deliver a concerning message about our current crisis: Climate Change, and the convoluted aspects of man vs man and man vs nature. Golden clearly expresses her concern and her love for this world and sadness of the horrors that are currently taking place in it though these paintings, and she does so in a way that is incredibly beautiful and capable of reaching many audiences across cultural and geographical divides.

Drawing from her own cross-cultural experiences, Golden’s paintings also illustrate how cultures can change over time and how relationships can evolve. Notions of cultural anxiety, urgency and conflict grasp at viewers’ attention through the thick and hot red paint.

Scattered around the exhibition like leaves blowing in the wind are small paintings of flowers and floral shapes. Despite their heavy black backgrounds these sweet little paintings are a breath of fresh air from the main body of hellish scenes around the room. ‘Ivy Serpent’ also offers sanctuary, showing a beautiful, serene scene of a watery oasis, with people swimming in the luscious blue water, enjoying life to the fullest, without war and hurt.

The exhibition shows paintings of Iraq before, during and shortly after war and numerous bombings. The peacefulness and beauty of Iraq shown in the pre-war paintings, alongside the stunning floral paintings deliver a strong message of reslilence, showing that even the most delicate forms of life can regenerate, as long as they’re nurtured over time and loved. Some of the paintings show scenes of vibrant, bustling market places, with citizens all gathering and enjoying themselves with friends and family, highlighting just what a beautiful joyful place Iraq once was, and could be again. 

With this exhibition, Golden has succeeded in telling viewers a powerful story about the problems and tragedies afflicting humankind across the world, but in such a beautiful way, her messages are sealed with hope, igniting the flame for people to make changes and reach out to other cultures that otherwise felt foreign to them.

Pamela Golden: Thunderstruck is on at Marlborough Fine Art until 3rd February.  More information may be found here.