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Both paintings are rather austere, but in the company of the drawings they look at their lyrical best.
Uglow was a rare and radical painter, and has been much misunderstood.
I much admire the boldly seamed and textured surfaces of Jake Attree’s paintings, and I’ve long been interested in the haunted clarity of Peter Brook’s isolated buildings.
It’s always good to see the obsessional linearity of Percy Kelly, and Andrew Hemingway’s watercolours and pastels are intriguing, but the show’s main attraction is a powerful group of oil studies and tempera paintings by Helen Clapcott (born 1952).
This kind of trompe l’oeil painting has always been useful for murals and theatre design, and has occasionally been fashionable in painting in the last century or so (there used to be a fine example hanging in Nottingham Castle dating from 1965), but here is scarcely more than a demonstration of technical virtuosity.
The effect is more interior décor than painting, and unfortunately the response is, so what?
In the second room is Simon Ling (born 1968), the artist here most obviously involved with the stuff of paint.
Catherine Story (born 1968) fills the fourth room with paintings of semi-sculptural figures that seem remarkably akin to the work Alexander Guy (born 1962) was producing 20 years ago.
There’s some nice drawing to be seen, but the overall effect is distinctly underwhelming.
This is work to ponder, and I make no apologies for writing about it again, even though I did contribute an essay to the catalogue.
There’s quite a different feeling at Messum’s in its group show of work from the north of England, where an expressionist flavour pervades many of the exhibits.