Reality: Modern and Contemporary British Painting
10 July – 29 November 2015
Curated by artist Chris Stevens, 50 works focused on everyday life celebrate the strength of British painting over the last century.
While in recent years artists have tended to favour the mediums of installation, photography and film, this exhibition sets out to prove that painting has not been eclipsed by its more fashionable successors, and is still highly relevant in Britain today.
Featuring the likes of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Ken Currie and Paula Rego, works on display tackle a diverse range of contemporary subjects, from the body and relationships to history, politics and war – each revealing something of the artist's own reality.
David Hockney's My Parents, for example, offers an honest insight into long-term relationships and growing old, while George Shaw’s depiction of his home town, Coventry, expresses the mundanity of life in surburbia in a way that is tender in its affection.
London based Scottish painter Caroline Walker presents works that are disturbingly voyeuristic; women appear in domestic settings either half-clothed or naked, unaware they are being watched. Hiring actors to pose in real life houses – always a minimalist aspirational design – Walker says her painting 'occupies a place between document and fiction... in order to explore the relationship of women to domestic space, and reflects on a history of representing women in art'.
The locating of a specific house is the starting point for these works, from which Walker creates a set where the fictitious scenarios she concocts can unfold. A combination of the existing contents of the house and additional props are used in order to represent a life of affluence and luxury. Her characters take on the roles of 'lady of the house', friend or guest, but these same women also reappear in the role of the housekeeper, ground staff or cleaner.