Painters' Painters

Art, Painting
3 out of 5 stars
 (David Brian Smith 'David - Great Expectations - A Windy Day',  2015. © David Brian Smith, 2015. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London.)
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David Brian Smith 'David - Great Expectations - A Windy Day', 2015. © David Brian Smith, 2015. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London.
 (Raffi Kalenderian 'Spirit Guides and Sunflowers', 2008. © Raffi Kalenderian, 2008. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London)
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Raffi Kalenderian 'Spirit Guides and Sunflowers', 2008. © Raffi Kalenderian, 2008. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London
 (Bjarne Melgaard  Untitled (Fear of Les Super), 2007. © Bjarne Melgaard, 2007. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London.)
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Bjarne Melgaard Untitled (Fear of Les Super), 2007. © Bjarne Melgaard, 2007. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The Saatchi Gallery's recent show of all-female artists, Champagne Life, was sold on gender. Painters’ Painters offers a line-up of nine male artists, yet it is presented as a showcase of cutting-edge contemporary painting. What kind of message does that send? In many ways, Painters’ Painters feels like a bit of a lost opportunity. Artists who use the medium are often dismissed as too traditional, rarely catching the curator’s interest, and so an exhibition of living painters who are pushing boundaries is exactly what we need right now. 

The set up is ambitious, with each artist getting a room dedicated to his work. It starts out hopeful with the large scale-figuration of LA painter Raffi Kalenderian. With wonky use of perspective and marbled tree-ring patterns, his canvases appear to pulsate. The drawing feels off-key at times, but his hypnotic style and garish use of green draws you in. Less appealing are the crude scenes of Martin Maloney: women rambunctiously painted in supermarkets and garden centres with McDonald’s-yellow hair and blue noses, as though drawn by a child who has run out of flesh pink crayon. The room might attack the senses, but the ‘intentionally bad’ bad-art trope has been seen too many times to now feel transgressive.

Dexter Dalwood, however, pulls it out of the bag; by blending photographic elements, cartoon-strip graphics and classic techniques, Dalwood reimagines the abandoned homes of celebrities. His painting ‘Kurt Cobain’s Greenhouse’ reads like an early Patrick Caufield.

The stand-out room goes to Ryan Mosley, whose work lies somewhere between modern folk art and Hogarthian debauchery.

There is some great painting here, but the individual voices aren’t loud or diverse enough to sing as a showstopping whole. Diversity isn’t a ‘generation snowflake’ fad: it’s part of who we are, and our galleries should reflect that. By defaulting to the status quo, Painters’ Painters becomes its own worst enemy. 

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