High Society, Oil on Linen, 193 x 249cm
Text written by Patricia Ellis
Hernan Bas explores the language of dandyism and subculture as a means to define sexual attraction. Bas's paintings are tinged with nihilist romanticism, born of literary intrigue and a passion for historical painting. His works are small, frail and sensuously delightful. Through their unassuming intimacy, they contrive elaborate fantasies concerned with the ephemera and gentilities of seduction. Bas's bittersweet subject matter ranges from Greek mythology to contemporary genre painting, and are always derived from his connoisseur's predilection for the poetic and empyreal. Suggestive of the melodramatic narratives of classic film, his scenes conjure up thoughts of gothic malaise and the trepidation of first love.
Bas situates his characters amidst the turbulence of adolescence. Their sensuality is expressed through an aura of naiveté, emanating from scenes of roughhouse play or quiet repose. Bas portrays emotional isolation as a symptom of social engagement, a reflection of the awkwardness of budding sexuality and an awareness of difference. Bas's paintings are never explicit; rather his dreamy images exist as metaphors for emotional flux. Wavering between virginal anxiety and gushy infatuation, they capture precise moments of seasonal youth.
Greatly influenced and inspired by the decadent writing of Wilde and Huysmans, his style of painting emulates linguistic flourish. Impassioned brushwork and pastel hues bloom with poetic description, whilst environments are set with the divine ambience of pathetic fallacy. Confined by a historical sense of etiquette, Bas's figures gracefully allude to darker inclinations; their posed innocence a thin veil of gentlemanly decorum.
Embracing the sentimental, Bas's figures convey overwhelming emotions as an internalised sensation. Bas masterfully portrays the graceful masking of social gaff, the lustful harbouring of desire, or the stiff-lipped retention of hurt feelings. Through refined skill of drawing and measured composition, Bas develops a psychologically charged context for painting where dramatic excess knows no bounds.
Text written by Patricia Ellis
Cecily Brown's luscious paintings combine figuration and abstraction. Expanding the tradition of expressionism, she draws her influences from painters such as Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning to put a feminine twist on a male dominated art history. Cecily Brown uses paint with an unusual sensuality, her creamy layers and rapturous colours offer sexually charged surfaces in which suggestions of figures emerge. Her paintings are marked by a carnal physicality, in which bodies are fragmented, distorted, and fetishised, and paint becomes a malleable and voluptuous substitute for flesh itself.
Cecily Brown often titles her paintings after classic Hollywood films, such as The Pyjama Game and The Fugitive Kind. Drawing elements of these dramatic genres through her emotive painting style, Brown's tones and textures range from teasing frivolity, to the sordid and sweltry. Her work offers a distinctively womanly seduction, imparted with a stylised innocence of a bygone era, where illicit romance and passion are discretely veiled within cultivated codes of social etiquette and decadent fashion.
Cecily Brown's interest in figuration stems from the narcissistic relation between viewer and depicted body. Attraction through identification plays a central theme in Brown's work. Her paint insinuates the sensation of physical experience, alluding to bodies in motion. Her vague characters, both delineated and implied, become surrogates for viewers' projection. Brown's gestural abstractions transform as expanded psychological fields. Her paint - spattered, smeared, groped, and battered -- configures in promiscuous spectres; suggestively explicit, her fractured compositions replicate the subconscious formulations of drive and desire.
Through painting, Cecily Brown conveys both somatic and intellectual eroticism as a metaphysical experience. The corporeal indulgence of her medium reverberates as spiritual enlightenment; this climactic elation is replicated through the artist's physically intensive process. Each canvas is permeated with an ethereal light, giving both a sense of airy daydream and piercing ecstasy. Cecily Brown's paintings possess a transfixing aura where painterly reverence and female sexuality reside as destined bedfellows: extraordinarily beautiful and wickedly tempting.
Text written by Patricia Ellis
Christoph Ruckhaberle's leisurely scenes operate like dysfunctional stage plays. Cribbed from all the best bits of art history, he imbues his paintings with a contemporary newness of vivid patterns and design colours. His elaborate sets are backdrops of static energy against which his cast nonchalantly mingles: placid and bored, unaware of their own interaction with an expectant audience. This sense of waiting is the delight in Christoph Ruckhaberle's work. Charmed by the pure casualness of it all, his paintings offer the possibility of getting lost in a moment, a luxuriating pause where visual harmony is appreciated as inert ideal.
Christoph Ruckhaberle approaches figurative painting from a purely formalist standpoint. His elaborate configurations don't strive to depict narrative, but rather offer perverse pleasure in the idiosyncrasy of their construction. Christoph Ruckhaberle approaches painting as a compositional jigsaw puzzle, each element an individually delineated shape filling a gap in the whole: L-shaped elbows and knees disjointedly connect to rectangular dresses and socks, geometric furnishings float without a sense of grounded order. Christoph Ruckhaberle's avant gardist compositions break down into absurd abstractions: contorted bodies, silhouetted trees, tea pots and parasols become intriguing excuses to render complex systems of repetitive circles, squares and interlinking patterns. Christoph Ruckhaberle's folksy style gives a casual air to his balanced formal tension, consciously understating his wry visual humour, and clever citation of Matisse and Beckmann.
Christoph Ruckhaberle's work instils a sense of isolation and detachment: his figures are frozen in self-contained realms of thought, their painterly existence derived solely for the pleasure of creating visual suspense. Through this precarious balance of psychological intimacy, and cool, stylised aesthetics, Christoph Ruckhaberle contrives a soothing comfort through which an underlying anxiety passes almost unnoticed.
The Triumph of Painting will define how painting has not only survived into the new century in the face of the barrage of imagery from other media, but it will demonstrate how painting has absorbed that imagery, reshaped it in its own central domain, and touched us profoundly.
£35.00 - Published by Random House
Visitors to the gallery can purchase the book at the special price of £30.00
First in a series of supplementary volumes featuring many key works by 6 important artists'. Essay by Alison Gingeras, biographies by Patricia Ellis.
£16.50 - Published and distributed by Koenig Books London