A Painting for all Seasons

by Beatrice

The Four Seasons Hotel in downtown New York is all about grand statements.

Located in 30 Park Place, the tallest residential tower in Midtown when it was completed in 2016, the 189-room hotel is a study in confident opulence.

From the oversized ornate glass doors at the hotel’s entrance on Barclay Street to the double height staircase with its decorative metal lattice balustrade that leads up to the first floor ballroom, this is a hotel where design really matters.

But while the building and the interior design are the work of some of New York’s most celebrated architects and designers, the hotel’s pièce de résistance is a 4m by 4m triptych painting that emanates from a small studio in the English countryside.

The landscape piece called Manna Hata, consists of a large central panel with two narrow side panels. It is the work of Orlanda Broom, a British artist based in Hampshire, who won the dream commission after the owners of Four Seasons were introduced to her work via art consultants Peter Millard and Partners Ltd.

Dragon Throat by Orlanda Broom

“The biggest challenge initially was finding a space that could house the canvas and where I could get enough distance back from the painting to see it properly while working on it,” she said. After a fruitless search around London, Orlanda relocated to an industrial unit on a farm in Hampshire where she spent the next three months working intensively on the piece.

As her career has progressed and her reputation has grown, around half of her works are now direct commissions but it is never a prescriptive process when Orlanda is asked to create a painting for a specific space.

She said: “People will see my work and commission me as they believe my style will work in that space. When working directly with the person commissioning, we will go through my portfolio so I can understand what they like and what they don’t. I have no problem with that and as part of the process I will often visit the space where the work will hang.

 “Ordinarily there is very minimal intervention from clients – people appreciate your work is your work. It can’t be prescriptive, beyond size and possible palette restraints, and when working indirectly through an art consultant this is where they really do their job; they make sure the client is happy and allow the artist to be creative. 

“For the Four Seasons commission the consultant came a few times to have a look throughout the process. Generally they don’t show photos to the client, I wouldn’t be happy to show half finished pieces. My landscape paintings are a process of building up and elimination. You have thoughts and ideas about the completed work but it evolves as you go along.

“This is not like architecture where you can show a client a CAD drawing of the proposed scheme.”

While remaining true to the style and approach that had attracted Four Seasons to her work initially, Orlanda wanted to a create a piece that not only responded to its surroundings but also referenced its location in Downtown New York.

She said: “The Four Seasons is a very beautiful contemporary space and my piece is directly opposite the beautiful ornate glass front doors so it was important that there was a relationship with the surroundings.

“The layered feel of the piece responds to the design of the space which has a muted and understated colour palette – my work is quite adaptable with a broad colour range, so it can cope with most surroundings. There are beautiful gold mesh screens in the lobby and so I tried to incorporate those textures into the work. 

“This was a fascinating project as I knew it was extremely close to Ground Zero and I wanted to reference that. I liked the idea that the landscape is not fixed in a particular time – it could be pre-human or post-apocalyptic… a city or island overrun by nature.

“The subtle shafts of light depicted represent the twin towers; a subtle tribute and recognition of this tragedy. It’s not often that this is possible – it’s a rarity. Often a piece is a response to the space rather than a specific narrative, whereas in this case it was both.

Work in progress – the main centerpiece of Orlanda Broom’s commission for the Four Seasons Hotel, Downtown New York

“Ultimately, the process changes with each commission depending on the client and the space. I did a commission for the Mandarin Oriental in London that was a very different experience. It was a large abstract piece for the newly renovated Rosebery Lounge and in that scenario it was a long process; working with the interior designers, creating samples to test colours, particular luminants
and mediums. 

“This project was much more hands on with the designers at GA Group and an advisor from Artefact Hotel Art Consultants Ltd. While my work is my work, the experience has been very positive – designers are creatives, they accept your process. 

“As an artist you accept that, for certain commissions, there will be direct input from designers but this has on many occasions led me to explore new techniques and working in new ways.”

With a growing reputation and steady flow of commissions from high quality clients, Orlanda will undoubtedly be involved in many exciting projects in the future, although few are likely to be quite like her commission for Four Seasons.

She said: “The references within the painting were really appreciated by the client – it really was important to them. After it was installed I was invited to give a talk about the painting and I had so much feedback from the staff and guests there, they were really touched that their city was integral to the painting. It was great to see it in situ. Apparently it’s the preferred selfie spot!” 


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