Gill Hedley, ‘New Voices: New Works for the British Council Collection’, Centre Albert Borschette, Brussels, Belgium (and touring), exhibition catalogue, 1992
(David Austen, Keith Coventry, Ian Davenport, Jeffrey Dennis, Peter Doig, Gary Hume, Callum Innes, Elizabeth Magill, Antoni Malinowski, Julian Opie, Fiona Rae, Michael Stubbs, Suzanne Treister, Alison Turnbull, Rachel Whiteread and Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, Bill Woodrow)
Michael Stubbs employs many of the conventional techniques of picture making. He prepares and stretches canvas, covering it with a thick layer of oil paint. Then, some of the techniques of the patissier are used as he repeats the performance, spreading creamy paint between layers of canvas on wooden stretchers. The final layer is a confection of contrastingly coloured whorls and peaks of paint, tempting to the touch.
The paintings then take on a sculptural presence as the layers protrude into space. Always hung on the wall, the resemblance to sumptuous gateaux is there to amuse, but the work is a witty discourse on the fine balance between painting and sculpture.
The boundaries are no longer fixed. The use of found and readymade objects, collage and photography is common to both sculptors and painters. Sculpture no longer restricts itself to the floor, to the plinth nor to the outside of public buildings. Nor are painters limited to one side of an argument concerning figurative versus abstract painting.
Stubbs’ work brings into question, in a very straightforward manner, the traditionally accepted differences between sculpture and painting. Through the humour of his approach, the topic is taken outside the art school seminar room and presented to the viewer without pretension. Through a mixture of parody, and a sensuous use of paint that calls touch, taste and smell into play, a carefully considered point is made.