Visible Invisible

This event has now finished. Until Feb 7 2010

Untitled by Shaun McDowell Untitled by Shaun McDowell

Time Out says  

Posted: Tue Dec 15 2009

As Rolf Harris might say - can you tell what it is yet? 'Visible Invisible' showcases four painters and one sculptor whose work experiments with the point at which figuration dissolves, or conversely, where an image just begins to take shape. What also links them is an extreme investment in tactile and material qualities of their medium and the visual sensations they yield.

Which means there's some seriously dextrous paintwork on show: Cecily Brown is a master of overwhelming, kaleidoscopic jungles of slippery paint, while her trompe l'oeil paintings of two seated women repeatedly trigger the after-image of a skull hiding, but not hiding, in the background. A similar interest of something represented within a field of supposedly abstract marks informs Shaun McDowell's frenetically buzzing, supercharged tangles of squidgy pigment, in which one might just sense the vague presence of something corporeal or body-like.

Upstairs, the play with painterliness and illusion is taken to a more minimal extreme by Maaike Schoorel, whose almost-white canvasses carry barely detectable smudges and washes in which one discovers the image of nudes, portraits or landscapes. Schoorel uses whiteness to cast her vanishing subjects in an almost intolerable luminosity, though one might wonders whether these paintings yield more than just this exquisite sense of evanescence. Meanwhile, Katy Moran whips up weird little storms of marks that seem to hum with knowing nostalgia for a kind of half-forgotten, late-1950s gestural abstraction.

If these are all youngish artists for who the painterly, abstract expressionist 'golden age' is a kind of art-historical myth, then the hulking, lumpy sculptures of the much older Swiss artist Hans Josephsohn reminds us that all that stuff did actually happen. This younger generation of painters is working back over ways of painting that the postmodern art world has largely forgotten. Whether this is genuine renewal, or just history repeating itself, is harder to judge, but nevertheless worth the attempt.

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