CHARLIE SMITH london is delighted to present John Stark with his second one person exhibition at the gallery.
In this exhibition Stark has created a body of work that gravitates towards the centre of his preoccupations of the last three years. Rendered with masterly technique in oil on panel, Stark's paintings transcend time by navigating the historical, the contemporary and the futuristic. At once his content recalls the Flemish landscape painting of Patinir; the figure work of Zurbarán and Sassoferrato; and the minimal Modernism of Judd. We are invited to assume that these depictions are posited at some point in an imagined future. Figures bustle amongst sporadic buildings in verdant foregrounds and backgrounds made of ever receding waterways and rocky out-crops. However, on further consideration it becomes unclear as to whether these vistas are a futuristic wondering or rather a rendition of some eternally recurring cycle.
Central to this creation of non (but all encompassing) time and place are the endeavours of the populace within. Colonies of beekeepers tend to their colonies of bees. Hooded and masked figures labour in the landscape in a collaborative enterprise to create liquid gold. Analogous to the intensive work of the artist, all are toiling here, all creating. Stark has also begun to provide more information. There is no doubt that we are exploring a utilitarian society consisting of communities inhabiting historic towers and fortifications; postmodern and prototype dwellings and units; and everyone and everything has its function.
We are not being directed however. These paintings are a virtuoso display of artist as vessel. They are depictions from an internal world but which also touch upon universal aspects of existence, traversing expansive leitmotifs that embrace philosophy, spirituality, and the histories of art and thought (and feeling). Operating as a collection of paintings that work together as a group, the whole refers to each individual part and in turn each part serves to provide an understanding of the whole. There is only one more component required to interpret the circle of endeavour of artist and subjects in these allegorical paintings and that is the psychology of the viewer.
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