With spring descending on us rapidly I would recommend making a stop off at the Phoenix Gallery and immersing yourself in rooms full of colour. Spread out over 4 rooms, curators June Frickleton and Patrick O’Donnell have collated contemporary paintings from 20 painters after a tireless search through artists based in the South East. This has resulted in an exuberant and refreshing collection, representative of the current trends in painting and of the local artists in this area. The exhibition surrounds you in vibrant colours, and abstract shapes engulf you in a sensory overload.
Richard Gould’s paintings use intense, bold colours, resulting in an almost hallucinogenic effect. Using a selection of neon tones, he has intentionally re-worked subjects to highlight and critique the effects of reproduction of paintings on the Internet and magazines. He shows how the repeated digital and mechanical replication of an image completely corrupts its original intentions. Becky Rose on the other hand, has used the technique of painting to change our emotions towards a subject matter. Her series on explosions depict the clouds of destruction more like flowers in bloom. The use of soft, powdery brush strokes shows us the hidden beauty that can escalate from an act of devastation.
A personal highlight for me was the work of Paula MacArthur. She has put together a collection of paintings of gemstones, which she photographed at the Natural History Museum. This collection allows us, the viewer, to be engrossed into the unworldly space of jewels. MacArthur explains that through enlarging them they have been transformed into celestial entities. Part of the wonder is also captured through her technique in painting, as from a distance the jewels have a photographic clarity.
However, on closer inspection, you become aware of the physicality of the painting, the gestural marks and the abstract shapes constituting the painting and the jewels themselves. I was overwhelmed by the brightness and intensity of colour aided by the sunlight illuminating the room; this made for a truly spectacular experience. I felt like I was inside a kaleidoscope!
Overall ’20 Painters’ is not an exhibition to be missed! The curators have skillfully identified artists that demonstrate exciting ways of working with paint.