The PM Gallery presents a new group exhibition of figurative painting curated by Ealing-based portrait artist Chris Stevens. The show features work by Marcelle Hanselaar, Lizzie Rowe, Alan Macdonald and John Keane as well as Chris Stevens's own work.
A figurative painting deals with subject matter. When we see a definable situation in a painting, a story starts to evolve in our minds. This is not a linear narrative as with a novel, movie or set of illustrations but a story that exists around what is happening in the single static image. When confronted with subject matter we are invited to ask questions, as it acts as a clue to the artists' intentions and is a puzzle to try and solve.
In recent years painting has started to re-emerge as an important medium, having taken a backseat to conceptual art for so long. The artists in Beyond the Narrative have not been seduced by fashion and have considered the use of paint to be the best means to express themselves. The works examine a variety of themes or messages.
John Keane is dealing with global, political concerns, he is asking questions about political power and the morality of war.
Lizzie Rowe's beautifully painted dresses offer us an insight into her life by being a metaphor for the major issues that she has had to deal with surrounding transgender.
Alan Macdonald sets us conundrums to solve questions that might not have answers. His juxtaposition of images, which range from classical landscapes with Vesper scooters or Tesco plastic shopping bags with Rembrandtesque nudes, offer us an amusing question about contemporary society and our position in it.
Marcelle Hanselaar deals with her secret fantasies or fiery desires, an approach which makes it impossible to look at the paintings as a single moment in time as we become involved with the psychological make up of the subjects.
Chris Stevens paints people who are easily pigeon holed into media stereotypes. He offers, however, an alternative reading of these people and we are asked to question our own prejudice when looking at these paintings.