PAINTING ROOM PRESS                       

Annabel Dover

Saatchi Gallery Online
Saatchi Gallery - Top Ten January Shows
Le Cool 17-23 Jan 2008
Art Art Art - Issue 1 February 2008 (see review below)


The Painting Room / Transition Gallery 12 Jan – 10 Feb 2008

‘The Painting Room’ is a group exhibition showcasing over seventy emerging and established contemporary artists.

A mass of small paintings fill the walls of the gallery space, hung in a manner that reflects in a sense how your grandmother may display her family portraits within her home. However the tightly packed curation of the show strengthens the energy of the group exhibition, presenting a mixture of painters, some new graduates like Alli Sharma alongside more established artists such as Lee Maelzer. Co-curators Director Cathy Lomax and Rachel Potts, both painters themselves, have combined the elegance and romance of a 19th century salon with various contemporary pop culture themes.

As the eye wanders around the walls of the gallery the works almost form groupings through colour and through emergent themes. To form a cohesive aesthetic is difficult, but it is a compelling exercise. The utmost intensity expels from the feminine glamour of Emma Talbot’s ‘Lost on Some Horizon’, 2007 as two model-like females pose as if on a photo shoot, sprawled in an uninhabited interior. Rebecca Knapp’s ‘Untitled’ 2007 playfully reveals four bare footballers bums! Yet disturbingly the grey skies above the football pitch means eventual play becomes questionable. Throughout the show there is a playful edginess to the paintings.

Sarah Jefferies ’Girl with Wallpaper’, 2007 explores a fascination with patterning, as a pale girl leans awkwardly against a vibrant wall, while Annie Kevans’ ‘Amalia Putty (Lya De Putti), 2007, depicts starlets from the silent film era, as part of a series called ‘Vamps & Innocents’. Teiji Hayama ‘Girl With Gloves’, 2007 explores intent and power, as a glamorous girl stands with a gloved clenched fist pressed to her chin.

In between the figurative works lies paintings of abstraction and splashes of colour, bringing life and vitality to the medium. Rob Leech’s Brushstroke #301, 2007, presents a single vibrant brushstroke peeling slightly off the wall, drawing out the thick, lustre of paint, applied to the surface of Michael Ajermen’s ‘Chelz and Lulu’, 2006-7 hung directly above Leech’s. This strong gestural painting gives authority to the pure energy of the brushstroke, equal to the most subversive narratives of the figurative works.

Although initially I found ‘The Painting Room’ quite overwhelming due to the sheer abundance of work, as my eyes fought against the mass I realised this was the only way such work could be hung. The more work I absorbed the more aesthetic, and narrative associations became apparent, with small dynamic paintings bombarding my eyes and directly reflecting the immediacy of contemporary Popular Culture.

Sarah Yates