Lucy Stein's new paintings are life affirming whilst acknowledging that bleakly comedic twists of fate can dramatically influence our lives. Stein makes figurative oil paintings and drawings, often incorporating elements of collage such as magazine cut-outs, drawings and materials such make up or cigarette butts. By using different techniques to create works, Stein allows her art to have different rhythms and tempos. Some of the works are heavily encrusted, made over a sustained period as she grappled with her subject matter. Others, such as her ink drawings, are more spontaneous and display a more energetic slight of hand. All however, combine text and image to express concern for cleansing, purifying and feminine anxiety.
Expanding upon the themes that characterised previous works such as female sexuality and the reliance of prescription drugs to solve our problems, Stein now offers alternative ways through her anxious and chaotic landscapes. We catch glimpses of figures as they walk out of the picture space in swimming gear. While for most of us appearing in our swimming costumes can be an embarrassing ritual, Stein sees the act as empowering. Swimming is presented as an alternative drug: a coping mechanism that provides both space and time for personal contemplation. But besides that, Stein points to the funny side of swimming. Frenzied psychedelic paintings incorporate the speedo logo reminding us of that mixture of awkwardness and absurdity when we see people in their swimming trunks.
For her second solo exhibition at Gimpel Fils, Stein has also created a series of works that position process and chance at their centre. Stein has developed a system of drawing that she describes as the 'some girls are bigger than others' method. Black ink is poured liberally down the paper and figures are drawn struggling to fit into, or escape from, the spidery gaps. The size and shape of her female figures are dependent on chance and undermine the contemporary desire to control body size and weight. Stein's message seems to be that environment and luck are more influential on our self-image than we would like to admit. Equally these works demonstrate Stein's willingness and ability to step back from her work and allow the processes of how she works influence the content.