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REALITY: “…a collection of my favourite contemporary British paintings”

14 July 2015 by Lisa

Chris Stevens in his studio.

Chris Stevens in his studio.

The REALITY exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery is now open and we’ve already had some brilliant feedback. Visitors have been tweeting about their experiences:

” #REALITY exhibition @walkergallery is a great testament to British artists.”

“‘Consulting the Oracle’ by Caroline Walker really moved me…”

If you’ve not yet been to see this varied exhibition of striking – and at times gritty – paintings, here’s an introduction to the show by curator and artist, Chris Stevens: 

“The REALITY exhibition started its life eight years ago when I was asked by the PM Gallery in London to curate a figurative painting show in which I should be included. After this show, I then expanded it to include a wider selection of artists and decided on an ambitious collection of work, which I never thought would be possible to realise.

The proposed exhibition was a collection of my favourite contemporary British paintings by artists I admire. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts decided they would take on this larger version of the show and from there it developed into what it is today.

I had originally intended to only include living British painters, but as I was working on REALITY it seemed essential to contextualise the work of the contemporary artists in the show with what can be considered to be modern masters.

Artists at the gallery private view


(Left to right) Assistant Curator of Fine Art, Alex Patterson, with artists from the show: Chris Stevens, Ray Richardson and Alan Macdonald.

As a student I was influenced by among others, the work of Walter Sickert, Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon and David Hockney. As a result, they were the first artists I included in my wish list and they acted as a foundation for the show’s development. The subsequent selection of work reflects my personal taste in painting.

The exhibition  includes representational paintings by artists who’s work I enjoy looking at, with work by several painters I had not previously been aware of; artists such as Caroline Walker, Sam and Luke Jackson.

I am very excited that the Walker is hosting REALITY, as it is a gallery that I have had a great deal of respect for since first visiting it in the ’70s. As well as having an amazing painting collection, it is the home of the John Moore’s Painting Prize, which is has been such an important show in promoting the importance of painting. It has continued to champion painting throughout the last 58 years when painting has so often been ignored in the wake of Conceptual Art. In many ways it is the perfect venue for this show.

We all look at art from a personal perspective in the same way that the artists in the show make paintings from a personal point of view. Although the show is about British painting, which is concerned with reality, each painter has an individual approach, which has resulted in a diverse collection of work.

I hope that people visiting the exhibition will realise how good the quality of painting has been in Britain over the past fifty years despite not always being in the limelight.

I also hope that they can see the inherent integrity of the artists included in this exhibition, each one continuing to paint when fashion may have dictated otherwise.”

ray-richardson-quote

Watch a video of Chris Stevens interviewing Gwen Hardie, one of the artists featured in the exhibition.

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