Angus Fitzpatrick reviews the Painter’s Painters exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London running until February 28.
Painter’s Painters, the new blockbuster exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London, showcases a global selection of painters who inspire the up-and-coming artists of today. There are nine artists displayed, and together they represent a wide range of ideas, approaches and styles.
The innovations of the 20th century, both creative and technological, has exponentially changed our environment far beyond what was possible to imagine in erstwhile centuries. Within this shift, it is commonly lamented that the traditional premiership of painting has dwindled, as popular trends focus on medias like computer generated images, photography and urban art, to name a few. Painter’s Painters aims to remind us, that despite this dilution of influence, painting is enduring, with as much gravitas, intellectualism and innovation as ever, and that the future is bright.
The range of artists serves to demonstrate the depth of white male painters today, despite this, it would have been a welcome addition to see any number of inspirational artists outside this demographic represented too. However, this should not take away from the success of those exhibited, as they are all well-established figures who are exploring their surroundings in as erudite and beautiful manner as previous masters.
A highlight of the show is David Brian Smith’s dream-like agricultural vistas, often displaying a figure resembling a contemplative biblical shepherd, in a style mimicking a patchwork quilt or collage. All of this taking place in a hallucinatory world of fast winds, flowing skies and multi-coloured sheep. This conveyance of nature’s vitality is continued in Raffi Kalenderian’s backgrounds, where the sky and trees seem to be moving wildly. In contrast to this, the human subjects that make up the focus of these paintings are shown as sitting or next to fence, a commentary on the confined stagnation of society today.
Dexter Dalwood depicts famous places or scenes he has never seen before, and instead relies on the public version, and therefore a certain amount of rumour, to describe the realities of the settings. His subject choices sometimes centre on celebrity tragedy, the result being an emotional translation of high profile news stories that provide an interesting commentary on the way the media shapes our views of such cases.
The Norwegian, Bjarne Melgaard’s large scale, graffiti-type, painted illustrations are visual explorations of emotions and relationships, often dealing with the intense and the angry. The loud, bright colours and intentional naivety of execution are mirrored in Martin Maloney’s paintings of everyday scenes, which provide a commentary on what he sees as the faked happiness of modern urban professionals.
In many of the works, obvious skill in execution is missing, which at first view slightly confuses the viewer. However, after becoming familiar with the artists’ intentions in opting for a lesser style, the merits of the exhibition start to shine through. Given this, when remembering the aim: inspire up-and-coming artists, one realises that Painter’s Painters encourages the young artist to concentrate on their thought process above all else, and promotes the freedom held in painting for expressing these inner emotions. It is important to note, that with such a wide range of artists, everyone will enjoy not every piece. As such, this exhibition should be seen by all aspiring artists, who are encouraged to discuss, comment and critique.