BARTHOLOMEW BEAL - A Heap of Broken Images24. Jun - 23. Aug 14 / ended The Fine Art Society Contemporary
The young British artist Bartholomew Beal draws on myth, folklore and poetry in the process of conjuring his distinctly atmospheric figurative paintings. His starting point is usually a textual source pared down into a reductive sketch. There may be a specific starting point for each work but the creative journey is far from certain, one canvas may show traces of several other ‘ghost’ paintings which are crucial fragments of the story of that work. Beal walks a fine line between referencing the specifics of his poetic source material and surrendering himself to the possibilities of beautiful accidents inherent in the process of painting.
On first glance Beal presents the viewer with a contemplative figure, unknown to us but familiar all the same, in a setting that has only a few indications of its specifity. Is the old woman with patterned clothes on a dirty street or is she in a warm room by a fire? The reductive compositions are the result of a sustained process of addition and subtraction and this is what lends the finished works such a vital sense of mood and character. Somewhat unusually for works of such an understated appeal, Beal works in saturated colours. His adoption of a bright, often ‘unnatrual’ palette is combined with obscured shapes and unidentified visual references, further heightening a sense that he is constructing unconcluded episodes.
We always have the distinct impression when we linger on the canvas that there is something else, something lurking we cannot quite make out. Although he is not an artist who employs paint in a highly textural or thick fashion, his finished works are anything but flat. The subtle, layered surfaces have an enjoyable unfinished quality - unfinished in the philosophical sense that everything is without end and nothing exists in isolation.
“Young artist Bartholomew Beal displays a distinct taste for existentialist absurdities in this series of wretched losers... Beal portrays his cast of anti-heroes with an impressive painterly confidence.” - The Guardian September 2013
Bartholomew Beal graduated from Wimbledon College of Arts with First Class honours in 2012. He was subsequently awarded the Jonathan Vickers Residency at the Derwent Valley MIlls World Heritage Site that culminated in a solo exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery \"Saint Mondays and Thereby Hangs a Tale\" (Sept - Nov 2013). He curated \"Launch\" at the Wimbledon Gallery Space in partnership with the Cultural Olympiad in July 2012 and was a finalist in Hans Brinker Student Painting Prize in Amsterdam, 2011.
His first solo exhibition at The Fine Art Society Contemporary will open in June, running until the end of August.
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