Galleries - May 2010

delineations are not the point: it’s the colours and compositions that zing, shocking you into a renewed love of nature and its brilliance, a sense of optimism about the future, a reminder that living in sadness is a sin, and thence to a determination to save the planet or at least think twice about what she is showing you and why. That’s the sustainable, enduring novelty of these shows. With this exhibition of painting, printmaking and book works at Kings Place we have a welcome opportunity to experience a highly representative cross section of the creative output of one of our most established artists, Stephen 12. GALLERIES MAY 10 If you already know Mary Lloyd Jones’s paintings, the oils and watercolours she’s showing at MoMA Wales and Martin Tinney won’t come as a huge surprise. Here again you can see her fasci- nation with wild, unpeopled land- scapes and with prehistoric man- made signs. You can luxuriate in the colours she uses and follow how she turns the natural stain- ings and structures of the country- side into abstract compositions whose peacock colours and free- wheeling, childlike shapes can rouse your endorphins from tune- less apathy to orchestrated glad- someness. Most of the 30 odd paintings at MoMA are the result of a two-week trip to Orkney in 2008 but, though site-specific in some ways, they could be anywhere in the untamed world that her vivid imagination inhabits. The can- vases here and in Cardiff, where the exhibition is more eclectic, range from huge (two triptychs of about 18 feet long) to more mod- est pieces of about 1ft x 1ft 6in. The Orkney paintings are site- specific in some senses. The most easily recognisable is the pres- ence of Viking runes, inspired by Maes Howe, which become stick trees and mountains as well as ancient language marks. Others are the horizontal stratification of rocks where they meet the sea and the colours of rocks, lichens, mist and heather. In some cases they are softer and greyer than previous scenes. Pre- cise locations and recognisable Chambers. It is, in effect, a mid- career sampling point for one of the most respected imaginative voices of his generation. Those unfamiliar with his work will find themselves enthralled by a cascade of ravishing colour and chromatic harmony which, complemented by a precise uncompromising draughtsman- ship, in turn depicts a constella- tion of uniquely interrelated images and objects. These beaut- ifully executed works seduce and lure us inevitably into what magi- cians describe as ‘the prestige’ – that moment of intoxication when we see exactly what they want us to see. He often paints the familiar – cups, ladders, chairs, flowers and birds – but they are nonetheless tightly strung and possessed of a specific inner content and pres- ence. In Islamic art this is called ‘Ishan’ meaning ‘spiritual virtue’ or just ‘virtue’. Often these objects interconnect, linked directly by threads and shadow or by a variety of decorative devices to provide a kind of lattice or ‘field’, one which can both deny and confirm the illusion of space within the pictures and also help bring the inner and outer worlds together. Here revealed are the many hierarchies of our experience – those glistening states of human ambience we might often deny exist but which, in the constant allusions his painting makes to them, Chambers is evidently well aware of. He is a quiet revolution- ary, an artist of real integrity work- ing subversively against the established zeitgeist in order to make this poetic, beautiful and se- rious work. That he does so is worthy of our highest praise and attention. MARY LLOYD JONES C aroline Juler S TEPHEN CHAMBERS C hristopher P Wood M ary Lloyd Jones ‘Dorothea’ Martin Tinney Gallery Stephen Chambers ‘The Professor’ 2009 Kings Place