In a world of minimal and conceptual art, installation, photography and film, it is argued that the media is guilty of airbrushing the humble painting out of the picture.
This weekend, the Walker Art Gallery redresses the imbalance by putting the fine art form firmly back in the frame.
REALITY: Modern and Contemporary British Painting is vibrant new exhibition featuring major 20th century painters – and at the heart of the matter is “the stuff of life”.
It showcases the work of Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and LS Lowry, alongside contemporary painters including John Keane, Ken Currie and Paula Rego (top).
Walter Sickert’s Ennui
From the earliest painting in the exhibition, Walter Sickert’s Ennui of 1917, to the wide range of works made over the last decade, REALITY reveals how passive observation has remained a powerful quality running through British figurative painting.
“Uncompromising and direct, the work of each artist represented retains a strong reference to the real world, ‘the stuff of life’ and testifies to the survival of painting as a medium and reveals the impact of British painting today,” it says here.
Curated by artist Chris Stevens and organised by the Norwich's Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, the show contains over 50 works spanning the last 60 years.
Themes include the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues, all dominated by the changing British landscape. From the coastal areas of Great Yarmouth and South Wales to the urban landscapes of London, Coventry and North Yorkshire, the artists in REALITY have continued to explore the transformative impact of the landscape upon British identity over the last century.
Despite their different references, the works are all united by two things: the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades, and the simple act of painting.
*REALITY: Modern and Contemporary British Painting, Walker Art Gallery, July 10-Nov 29, Free.