This group exhibition presents a selection of recent works by fifteen British artists that demonstrate the richness and vigour of contemporary painting in the UK.
British painting has a different look and feel in this century: a lighter touch, more conceptual, sometimes ironic and even funny. These paintings show traces of everyday reality and reflections on the age that we live in, whether we consider it to be a post-industrial or digital era or a period of religious, political, financial and social conflict.
Compared to the heavy spirit of the medium in the 1980s, painting now seems more focused on the idea of surface and reflects a virtual idea of space, referring to image technology and the images we see on smartphones and computer screens. A century of struggle between photography and painting provides a backdrop to this contemporary style. As the photographic image has shifted from heavy, analogue printed matter to the weightless digital image, this lightness has become characteristic of visual culture.
The underlying theme of The Painting Show is influenced by Unlawful Assembly (2013), a book of crime fiction stories written by artists Lucy McKenzie and Alan Michael. In the foreword to this book, artist Ed Atkins and gallerist Martin McGeown propose that the plot structures of crime novels, designed to lead the reader on a journey that questions the stability of truth and fiction, mirror the subversive way in which certain painters manipulate their medium, its history and the audience’s understanding of it. The artists in this exhibition have different approaches to experimenting with painting: they play with the romanticism of the act of painting, wryly imitate historical styles and question the relationship between the artist, the subject and the viewer.
The exhibition features works by: Merlin Carpenter, Stuart Cumberland, Dexter Dalwood, Kaye Donachie, Michael Fullerton, Celia Hempton, Neal Jones, Morag Keil, Fiona MacKay, Lucy McKenzie, Dawn Mellor, Alan Michael, Michael Simpson, Sue Tompkins, Padraig Timoney.