Dale Lewis in This Is Tomorrow Magazine

'Jerwood Painting Fellowships 2016' by Cassie Davies

18 May 2016 The third edition of the Jerwood Painting Fellowships 2016 brings together three distinctive painters in their early professional career. The Fellowships, launched by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation in 2010, provide a year of mentorship and a £10,000 bursary to support the three selected painters. Francesca Blomfield, Archie Franks and Dale Lewis were selected from over 400 applicants, and the culmination of their work on canvas over the past year as Fellows is presented at Jerwood Space.

 

Blomfield graduated from Chelsea College of Art in 2012, and has since worked on a number of collaborative events with organisations including STRYX in Birmingham and the Pipe Factory in Glasgow. In her latest series of oil paintings, Blomfield uses cut-out patterns and blocks of pure, unmediated colour to give structure to her work. ‘Today Is Newer Than Yesterday’ and ‘Anticipation Grows For Her Birthday’ incorporate the forms and colour systems of a limousine interior through an abstracted, modern lens. Wine glasses, windows, spotlights, wall hangings – these are some of the forms that Blomfield reuses in her paintings, capturing them through two-dimensional, vibrant colours. The titles of these two paintings are included in the piece; over the past year Blomfield has been experimenting with text, adding a narrative dimension to her paintings. Elsewhere, in a series of twelve 26 × 26cm canvases, Blomfield incorporates the shapes of tagliatelle and human hair into her work, focusing on pure colour and simple lines to give expression to her paintings. In her duo of ‘Split Screen’ canvases, the artist takes elements of nature – ivy and moonlight – and experiments with their patterns and colours. Blomfield is consistent in style and form across her work, imbuing her compositions with a luminous, decorative quality.

 

In his work for the Jerwood Painting Fellowships, Lewis draws from personal memories and associations to compose his large-scale, carnivalesque oil paintings. Lewis, an MA graduate from the University of Brighton, has most recently been involved in ‘The Future Can Wait’, a group show of progressive London-based artists at Art Bermondsey Project Space. At Jerwood Space, Lewis’ work focuses on raw scenes of urban environments, capturing under-represented aspects of life through energetic and psychedelic brush-strokes. The figures in his paintings are both humorous and unnerving; take ‘Acid Man’s Funeral’ for example, a black rabbit with male sex organs, standing upright, human-like, in Nike trainers. The painting is filled with several other fantastical, two-dimensional characters, joined amicably together against a background of rainbows, blue skies, polka dot trees and mushrooms. Lewis is especially adept at binding the relationship between his figures and their environments, the two vibrantly bouncing off each other, each influencing the other’s warped nature. Elsewhere in the exhibition can be found ‘Sunday Roast’, a conglomeration of naked human figures, limbs joining anuses joining faces joining crotches. In their centipede-like form the bodies become genderless, an effect that is similar to that deployed in ‘Acid Man’s Funeral’, where human and animal bodies are deconstructed, rearranged and morphed. Eventually, the line between sexualised and desexualised imagery in Lewis’ paintings becomes obscured, left to the viewer’s subjective response and associations.

 

The final artists, Franks, takes familiar motifs from the art historical past and contemporary life in his latest work, producing dreamlike and somewhat haunted paintings. The artist graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2012 with a Post Graduate Diploma, was awarded the Salisbury Scholarship in Painting in 2013, and is now Artist in Residence at Marlborough College. In ‘Monster Munch With Moon’ and ‘Still Life With Monster Munch’, Franks uses thick layers of paint to give his work a sculptural, three-dimensional effect. The artist incorporates the packaging and imagery from the distinctive Monster Munch crisp packets into these paintings, creating grotesque, life-like forms. In his series of ‘Popcorn’ canvases, Franks deploys a similar painting technique, encouraging his subject matter to emerge – or rather pop – from the canvas. While the titles and composition of the pieces allude to classical, romantic motifs, Franks’ commonplace, consumerist subject matter – with their shaded, staged backgrounds – adds a witty dimension to his work. Set against his dynamic oil canvases are a series of watercolour paintings – ‘The Present’, ‘Short Notice’ and ‘Venturese Original’ – that capture haunted scenes from fairground rides. The paintings, delicate in style and form, are almost engulfed by the bolder, more physical oil works that surround them. Yet, despite their subtlety, these watercolour canvases capture attention in the space: they hang, magnet-like, their ethereal and uncanny quality testament to the breadth of the Franks’ artistic skill.

May 31, 2016