Slow Painting, from Hayward Gallery Touring, is an exhibition of work by painters who take their time and invites us to do the same. Curated by the writer and critic Martin Herbert, it features 19 artists, primarily UK-based, whose work spans a myriad of styles and applications, from figuration to abstraction.
“Slow Painting aims to explore multiple aspects of what slowness might mean in relation to recent painting," explains Herbert. "The exhibition includes works that have taken long periods to gestate and others that engage with spans of time, from the continuum of art history to wider cultural and political histories. All of them, though, reward sustained contemplation.”
The paintings of Allison Katz, for example, are built from individual components we recognise, but the overall work deliberately holds back from full coherence, suggesting painting as a sophisticated, unfolding game. Benjamin Senior meanwhile draws from a variety of pictorial traditions – the unearthly compositions of Stanley Spencer, the poise of Balthus, the languor of impressionism – to allow initially familiar scenes to transform in surprising ways.
Elsewhere we can see lushly information-rich, landscape-based work of Tim Stoner, who paints recognisable subjects - cafes, the landscape - in a knotty manner that suggests ghostly, strange narratives. Similarly, Simon Ling applies subtle distortions to mundane everyday, suggesting an ungraspable life banked down beneath the surface.
The evaporating paintings of Russian-born, Nottingham-based artist Yelena Popova make use of the light and movement of the viewer to present themselves. While a number of the works, such as those by Lubaina Himid and Michael Armitage, speak to time and memory themselves. Himid’s vividly coloured works uncover buried histories of colonialism, and Armitage, a young painter working between London and Nairobi, instils dreamlike, lyrical images on traditional Ugandan barkcloth that explore the instability of memory.
The exhibition opens at Leeds Art Gallery (24 Oct 2019-12 Jan 2020), then travels to The Levinsky Gallery in Plymouth (25 Jan-29 Mar 2020).
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