In this exhibition, Stephen has continued with his theme of the manmade city in harmony or opposition to nature. It includes two different styles of working, with the introduction of the figure and therefore a narrative, and the introduction of oil painting.
'In these works I have continued my theme of the manmade city and nature in harmony or opposition with each other. Within this framework there are two ways or two styles of working. The first is my original one of using a heterogeneous source of material and methods to produce the theme, the other style is the more traditional approach of oil paint.
My conversion back to oil paint, partly due to studying the David Cox in Birmingham Art Gallery has allowed me to represent a stronger form of ‘realism’ and ‘naturalism’ which in turn lends itself to a narrative aspect, the first style has a more formal approach and can led to semi abstract qualities, the second is firmly rooted in representational painting, although aspects of both ways of working can be seen to some degree in each types of making.
The introduction of animate forms, figures, portraits, animals etc are conceived more as players in stage sets as opposed to reacting to natural circumstances, this often brings about an ‘oblique narration’ by which I mean, an action or story line which cannot quite be discerned but which is never the less inherent in the work. ‘Stage set for an imaginary opera’ is a good example of this.
Matisse once said an artist should never be a prisoner of himself or of a style, this I hold to be true particularly in the multicultural ubiquitous world of the 21st century.'
Stephen Butt: 2018