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  • New Figurative Realism at Clapham Art Gallery
    20.05.2006 LONDON, ENGLAND.

    Sarah McGinity, Ginger nuts, oil on canvas, 150 x 120cm, 2005.

    Clapham Art Gallery presents New Figurative Realism, organised by Charlie Smith london. The premise is a survey of selected London based and German artists who work with the human figure, prompted by this current tendency amongst leading, cutting edge artists. Combining painting, installation, video and performance, New Figurative Realism promises to be a compelling exhibition that celebrates humanity in all its disquieting mystery.

    Clapham Art Gallery is pleased to continue its collaboration with Tessa Farmer. Farmer has become well known for her hanging installations made from collected insects and now animal and bird carcasses combined with miniature, skeletal characters made from plants and plant roots. Farmer spellbinds her audience as the anatomically correct skeletal characters do battle with the insects, creating a fiction that encompasses beauty and horror, violence and death, and life and decay.

    Leipzig based Sebastian Gögel makes work that resonates with a sense of Germanic myth and undecipherable folklore. His packed, tumultuous canvases offer brutal renditions of hybrid beasts and characterisations. Gögel’s subjects rise from his imagination and are unplanned renditions; they are instinctive emanations that rise from a combination of the artist’s unconscious and his personal sense of history real and imagined.

    American born Juliana Amaral Leite is a complex artist who meditates predominantly on the human condition, represented by her preponderance in using the human figure. Working across mediums Leite employs video, performance, sculpture and objects to investigate her concerns. Sometimes grotesque, often masochistic and always challenging, Leite’s work typically uses her own body to convey a direct physicality which forces the audience to embrace horror and angst alongside beauty and fragility.

    Cathy Lomax works predominantly in paint medium, in this instance in oil on outsized paper. Inspired by popular culture and events from the public domain, Lomax focuses on actual and implied narratives. By adding or removing usual associative elements to or from an image the artist creates and removes aspects of a story or personality. Nostalgia, concealment and disruption are key elements to Lomax’ approach towards subverting established notions of the public and private self as she investigates Englishness, sentimentality, romance and melancholia.

    Sarah McGinity has quickly become known for her mysterious, outsized imaginary portraits of generic ‘types’. Her work maintains a delicate balance that embraces beauty and oddity simultaneously which might draw and distance subject from audience. This tension is enforced by the artificiality that is inherent in her work, as we sense an intentional vacuity and vagueness within the core of the subject.

    Mark McGowan will be making a large scale wall drawing in the gallery to coincide with his most recent performance, ‘Streetfighter’, where he will dress up as a boxing Ken Livingstone and invite people to fight him.

    Gavin Nolan is one of the most visceral painters currently practising in London. His contorted portraits communicate a terrible, angst ridden surreality that is beguiling and astonishing. Nolan appears to channel directly into an underlying anxiety found within the core of the human condition and communicate it with a distinctive verve. Most recently Nolan has been combining photorealistic techniques with painterly _expression to render his dynamic works with an alluring horror.

    Tim Parr’s extraordinary, hyper-real paintings combine beautifully observed details from the natural world with fantastical events. His reveries draw upon mythological characters that urge us to suspend reality and enter into a twilight world populated by Lilliputian humans, fairies, witches and hybrid creatures. Set in semi-rural environments such as Hampstead Heath Parr’s delicate paintings combine the familiar with the extraordinary, hinting at an alternative, magical reality that exists tantalisingly just beyond our reach.

    John Stark summons the true spirit of the Gothic in his intimate oil paintings on panel. Recalling a preoccupation with death, terror and the supernatural, Stark transcribes from various sources such as

    Barrocci, Durer and Salvator Rosa as well as National Geographic, comic books, Japanese horror films and eighteenth century French literature. Stark’s compositions confront the audience with the uncanny and challenge us to create an unseen narrative that is shrouded by mystery, informed only by the possibilities implied by his contorted hermit figures, witches and demons.

    Stella Vine is now firmly installed as one of Britain’s leading artists currently working with the human figure. Vine’s exuberant, naively painted works alight on the world of celebrity, casting a part celebratory part sardonic eye over their revealed activities. Celebrity’s conceits are subtly exposed to reveal a certain desperation and melancholy, and we the audience also undergo a delicate manipulation. There is a complex interplay in motion between the subject in question, the artist’s intervention and translation of personality, and opinion and prejudice that we as viewers bring to them.

    Berlin based Corinna Weiner recalls the painterly figuration of the 1950’s Mod Brit period. Her use of paint is instinctive and physical, and represents the communicative potential achieved through expressive materiality. Often using the self portrait format, Weiner builds a brooding atmosphere and subverts the self by removing, cropping or covering facial features. Self is objectified as body, becoming vulnerable in the process. This underlying threat is overtly sexual and combined with the physicality of the paint, creates an uneasy psychological presence in the work.