The five artists in ‘Second Glances’ each approach the figurative in art with a unique vision. What they share is a fascination with popular culture; with taking the plethora of imagery and narratives produced by the mass media – often starting with source material that is either printed or photographic – and through the processes of painting and drawing discovering a way of exploring deeply personal concerns, thus creating a sense of purpose and identity from the everyday and things that are often considered ephemeral or are easily ignored. Often it takes a second reading – or glance – to more fully begin to understand the artists’ intentions.
Michael Davies’ paintings and drawings are wry meditations on desire and mortality, their sources ranging from the artist’s own and family snapshots to anonymous, found images. His depictions of people engaged in seemingly inconsequential activity, mundane street scenes and institutional and domestic interiors on closer inspection reveal a search for the transcendent; every object, situation and denizen becoming an ominous herald of the unknown. Davies was born in Stone, UK, in 1967, and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Nick Fox transforms the found taboo image and context into one of intimacy and emotive experience; creating tantalising idylls and elusive narratives of an Eden after the fall where innocence has been banished. In his series of delicately observed figurative pencil drawings he transforms found images from pornography into ones of intimate and emotive experience in which languorous male figures emerge from the surface of the paper. Fox was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1972, and lives in London and Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Stephen Palmer transcribes the ephemera of everyday life – from second-hand records to newspaper clippings (often obituaries or reports of a noted individual’s death) – into paint and pencil with exquisite precision. His coolly analytical approach belies a longing to create an order from the chaos of the mundane, as well as a wistful nostalgia for the simpler pleasures of his youth. This process of transcription – reproducing faithfully every nuance, every discolouration, crease or tear in the original – confers a sense of importance, value and permanence to objects and events that would otherwise be seen as the refuse of our disposable culture. Palmer was born in Alton, UK, in 1967, and lives in London, UK.
Narbi Price is interested in perceived histories of locations and how painting can question the understanding of architectural and pictorial space. He challenges the conventions of photographically derived painting in terms of paint application and composition, and in blurring the line between the figurative and the abstract. His paintings are derived from photographs taken on trips to places that have witnessed a range of events, whether from significant moments in music, film and TV, or from whimsical acts through to brutal murders and tragic deaths, all of which have spawned folklore. Price was born in Hartlepool, UK, in 1979, and lives in Gateshead, UK.
Flora Whiteley’s oil paintings, watercolours and drawings explore how objects in space create a form of open ‘abstract’ dialogue with each other and the audience. She creates filmic and stage-like spaces from layers of source material; combining personal artefacts with found images: holiday snaps, film stills, newspaper cuttings, and art history books, to create enigmatic, suggestive scenes. Using a collage aesthetic, Whiteley creates ‘quiet moments between the action’, where empty rooms and figures in ambiguous activity slowed to the moment before standstill. Whitely was born in Oxford, UK, in 1977, and lives in Berlin, Germany.
‘Second Glances’ has been curated by Vane gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Vane is a curatorially led organisation based in Newcastle. The gallery exhibition programme is focused on the work of a group of emerging critically engaged artists from the North East of England, across the UK, Europe and the USA. The gallery also shows the work of invited guest artists in collaboration with other regional, national, and international galleries as well as festivals and projects by guest curators. Between 1997 and 2003 Vane was a project-based organisation with no permanent building. Since 2005 Vane has operated a permanent gallery space and has participated in international art fairs in the UK, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, and the USA.
In 2011, Vane relocated to its current base and used this larger space as a platform to launch an enhanced programme, one strand of which is focused on assisting the realisation of exhibitions curated by artists. Another part of the premises has been developed as a residency studio for artists. The gallery Directors are Paul Stone and Christopher Yeats. Vane is supported by Arts Council England. www.vane.org.uk