David Ryan, ‘VIVID’, Richard Salmon Gallery, London, UK; Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Center, Coventry, UK; Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK, exhibition catalogue, 2002 (also in Contemporary, February, 2002 – ‘Thinking in the Abstract: Vivid’)

(Torie Begg, Diana Cooper, Jonathan Feldschuh, Dennis Hollingsworth, Joan Key, Dona Nelson, Thomas Nozkowski, Jonathan Parsons, Martyn Simpson, Michael Stubbs, Daniel Sturgis)

…the ‘plastic inevitable’… the post-Warholian emphasis on artificiality and mechanical process… is an outlook that has certainly underpinned the resurgent emphasis on the ‘how’ of painting in recent years, whereby we have often been presented with mechanical and artificial means of developing forms, marks and surfaces. Michael Stubbs’ elegant and beautifully made paintings using tinted varnish, egg-shell paint and other materials, certainly address this issue. There is, because of the meticulousness of the design, a perverse re-staging of a notion of craft. Technical resources in these paintings are at the service of a razor sharp clarity and – paradoxically – a viscous liquidity, both held together in a precarious balancing act. Stubbs plays with scale, producing sign-like graphic motifs which act as masked interruptions in the flow of poured spills of paint. What comes to light are strange echoes and connections between these layers. Certainly, this dialectic between the ‘quasi-technologised’ and the hand crafted permeates the show in a subtle, almost unconscious way.

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