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New Mythologies: Figurative Abstraction in Contemporary Painting



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Friday, 12 April 2019 to Saturday, 4 May 2019
Thursday, 11 April 2019 - 7:00pm

Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London, is delighted to announce New Mythologies: Figurative Abstraction in Contemporary Painting, an exhibition featuring the work of seven contemporary artists including Eileen Cooper RA, John Copeland and Iris Schomaker. The exhibition explores the complexities inherent to image making and representation and examines how each artist extends the narrative potential of their figurative work through abstraction.

Through a tightly curated selection of twenty works made in the past 12 years, the exhibition presents a number of diverse approaches to contemporary figuration and to materiality, whilst highlighting the shared affinities and common approaches to painting held between these seven artists. Each artist uses their own particular form of mark making - from the gestural and intuitive to the precise - to explore storytelling, lived experience and traces of memory.

The work of Stephen Chambers RA invites the viewer into a series of imagined narratives, investigating themes of identity and nationhood in dream-like landscapes inhabited by expressive figures. Hovering between abstract and figurative, Chambers uses planes of intense colour and pattern to construct his strange and complex world.

Continuing the tensions between surface materiality and narrative John Copeland’s nude figures are often drawn from images found in 1960s porn and erotic magazines, distorted by the artist with layers of paint. The energy of his raw brushstrokes and use of thick impasto imbues his expressionistic paintings with darker tones; referencing libidinous human drives concealed within everyday experiences.

Emma Fineman’s work inhabits the borders of drawing and painting; her subjects are sketchily traced before she begins a process of prolonged gestural painting. Often drawn from memory, Fineman’s internal desires are played out in a series of expressive and gestural marks as she explores methods to fracture and reconfigure pictorial space.

Contemporary landscape painting is represented in the exhibition by Goan artist Karishma D’Souza. Bounding abstraction and representation, D’Souza reconstructs imagined and remembered scenes to create surreal and abstracted landscapes, often incorporating numerous scenes on one canvas, influenced by memory, poetry, politics and psychology.

Iris Schomaker's works on paper situate silhouetted and monochromatic figures in restrained, graphic surroundings. Schomaker’s visual language explores abstraction through the reduction of both form and colour.

In contrast, Ella Walker’s use of various media - tempera, gesso, pastel and ink - is saturating. Using pattern and flat plains of colour, Walker disrupts the structure and narrative of the work. The compositions are tightly framed, shallow spaces that allow interplay between the realms of drawing, paintings and design.

Also driven by the process of drawing, Eileen Cooper RA produces lyrical figurative paintings that encompass themes of fertility, sexuality, motherhood, life and death. She presents highly stylised imagined worlds that allude to magical realism in their use of totemic symbols, flattened space and fractured, dreamlike narratives.

Artist ( Description ): 

Stephen Chambers was born in 1960 in London. He trained at Central St Martin's and Chelsea School of Art in London. He has exhibited extensively in Europe and the United States in Solo and Group Shows. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2005.

Eileen Cooper was born 1953 in Glossop, in the Derbyshire Peak District. She studied at Goldsmiths College in London. She went on to study Painting at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1977. Cooper became a Royal Academician in 2001 and served as Keeper of the Royal Academy between 2010 and 2017, the first woman in the history of the Academy to do so.

John Copeland was born in California in 1976. He attended the California College of the Arts, and in 1998 he received his BFA. The artist lives and works in New York City. In 2017 a large solo exhibition of Copeland’s work, Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell, was presented at New-port Street Gallery, London.

Karishma D’Souza was born in Mumbai, India, in 1983. She was awarded Gold medals during both her BA in Painting from Goa University in 1999, and her MA in Graphic Arts – Printmaking from M.S. University of Baroda in 2004. She has been exhibited extensively in Europe and South Asia. She lives and works in Goa.

Emma Fineman was born in Berkeley, California in 1991. In 2018 she graduated with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Painting from Maryland Institute of Art in 2013. Fineman was a finalist of the John Moores Painting Prize hosted at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2018) and was selected as one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibiting at The South London Gallery (2018). She lives and works in London.

Iris Schomaker was born in Stade, Germany, in 1973. She studied fine arts in Kiel and Hamburg as well as in Trondheim and Bergen in Norway. She has participated in national and international exhibitions, including Kunstverein Schwimmhalle Schloss Plön (2016), Beijing International Art Biennale (2015), Mediation Biennale, Poznan (2014), Museum Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg (2014), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2013), Kunsthaus Stade (2013), Berlinische Galerie (2007; 2010), Schloss Salzau (2009), Staatliche Galerie, Zoppot (2001), and Villa Manin in Passariano (2001). She lives and works in Berlin.

Ella Walker was born in Manchester, UK in 1993. She received her BA in Painting and Printmaking from Glasgow School of Art in 2015 and completed The Drawing Year postgraduate programme at the Royal Drawing School, London in 2018. Her work has been exhibited throughout the UK in institutions including the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, and Christies, London. She lives and works in London.

+44 (0)20 7434 4319
Venue ( Address ): 

3-5 Swallow Street

London W1B 4DE

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