Paul Winstanley: Art School

Art Free
4 out of 5 stars
 (Paul Winstanley: 'Art School V', 2016. © the artist, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)
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Paul Winstanley: 'Art School V', 2016. © the artist, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery
 (Paul Winstanley: 'Art School 29', 2016. © the artist, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)
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Paul Winstanley: 'Art School 29', 2016. © the artist, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery
 (Paul Winstanley: 'Art School 32', 2014. © the artist, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)
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Paul Winstanley: 'Art School 32', 2014. © the artist, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery
 (Paul Winstanley: 'Art School' exhibition view. © the artist. Photo: Peter White)
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Paul Winstanley: 'Art School' exhibition view. © the artist. Photo: Peter White
 (Paul Winstanley: 'Art School' exhibition view. © the artist. Photo: Peter White)
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Paul Winstanley: 'Art School' exhibition view. © the artist. Photo: Peter White
 (Paul Winstanley: 'Art School' exhibition view. © the artist. Photo: Peter White)
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Paul Winstanley: 'Art School' exhibition view. © the artist. Photo: Peter White

Come the end of the summer term, art schools turn into strange and sombre places. The degree shows are taken down, materials are stowed away, and all that’s left are empty studios devoid of art, students and creativity.

Which hardly sounds like the best state in which to depict such places, but Paul Winstanley – known for his images of spaces like waiting rooms and office corridors – has created a series of paintings and prints along such lines. He’s worked from photographs. Each picture features a specific art school – but really, it makes no difference whether one is the Slade in London and another Glasgow School of Art. There’s a universality to these images of stud walls, grey lino floors and paint-splattered desks. Inhale: you can practically smell the turpentine.

Okay, not everyone is a nostalgic art graduate like me. But Winstanley is a painter seasoned in bringing a kind of romanticism to the most anonymous of spaces. It’s in his handling of cold light and geometric composition – reminiscent of Vermeer – that these works really come to life. Executed with deadpan sincerity, they’re evocative, melancholy and magical. 

By: Matt Breen

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