Galleries - February 2012

Arguably, these are more en- gaging than his figurative work reminiscent of Picasso’s Dora Maar’s , which is harder to digest as either original or deliberately recycled. Nicola McCartney James Lloyd A pair of pink and grey paper dolls’ houses made from curry boxes on the floor next to a pair of feet and ankles protruding into the picture, belonging to an otherwise unseen nude, a study of a kipper, a couple of packets of half opened McVitie’s biscuits; it‘s subject matter at first sight reminiscent of the Kitchen Sink Painters perhaps and of numerous (and predic- table) art school still-lifes in the years since, but rather unamb- itious themes, you might think, for one of England’s most promising, younger generation figurative/ realist painters. But then James Lloyd, it seems to me, has always been something of a boundary- breaker in terms of how and where his work might be placed. A Paul Smith Scholarship holder at the Slade in the mid-90s, a first prize winner of the BP Portrait Award the year after he left, Lloyd’s work appeals across the modernist/traditionalist divide. The answer lies, above all, in the ex- traordinary directness and vivacity of his vision, his ability to make the paint sing with vibrant energy, the still-lifes teem with life, the portraits touchingly dense with tangible materiality. ( Browse & Darby ) Nicholas Usherwood David Spiller British artist David Spiller is often characterized as a Pop Express- ionist. With bold colours and state- ments, block borders and recog- nizable cartoon characters, such as Felix the Cat, his paintings tick the relevant boxes of Pop. On closer inspection, however, Spil- ler’s lyrical scrawlings and care- fully selected panels of canvas that have been stitched together, reminiscent of the comic strip, reveal a far more intimate and emotional approach than the distance usually associated with the satirical and ironic practice of Pop art. Statements such as ‘No More Tears’ and ‘Be Brave’ make us feel as though we’ve stumbled upon a private exchange, emphasized by white washes and blocks of paint that have been used to conceal parts of the sentiment. Love is a recurring theme throughout this exhibition at Beaux Arts London . Though the subject matter is unoriginal, Spiller’s residual pencil marks and raw canvases exude a sense of immediacy and almost cathartic desperation that provid- es a refreshingly authentic voice, reinforcing the truth of clichés rather than tiring us of them. Tho- ugh each painting is indepen- dently composed, the added effect of the discrete, stitched pan- els within the single stretcher is such that one can imagine diff- erent permutations of Spiller’s patchwork texts and make playful cross-painting interpretations. Geoff Yeomans ‘Out of Iron’ takes the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between Realism and Abstraction in new directions. The 21 canvases in this fourth version of Geoff Yeomans’s touring exhibition ( Rhyl Arts Centre ), range from two 4ft wide, landscape-shaped pictures down to paintings measuring little more than a foot square. The oil is often so dense that it is hard to make out what is going on (the lighting is crucial) and the images typically focus on close-ups of decaying or weathered surfaces: rust, rotting wood and lichen-covered stones. In doing so, he pits the melan- choly of discarded, meaningless objects against his (and our) cra- ving for a sense of purpose, dis- covering beauty in their deso- lation. Some of his images have an almost Scandinavian calm; others explode in lava floes of orange and red; one (repainted) canvas now flashes with an acid yellow rectangle above a murk which is both cavernous and flat. Yeomans says his paintings lie somewhere between ‘conceptual and views’. They also leap from the hard-nosed objectivity of his earlier years to something that is neither wholly abstract nor representational, and which sometimes incorporates a lyrical Surrealism that is reminiscent of Paul Nash and Max Ernst. Caroline Juler D avid Spiller ‘No More Tears’, Beaux Arts, London J ames Lloyd ‘Curry Box Houses’, Browse & Darby G eoff Yeomans ‘Eclipse 3’, Rhyl Arts Centre T RIPLE VISION 9. GALLERIES FEBRUARY 12