Walk to an estate in South London, up some stairs, past some bins splayed on the floor, take a right turn, and you’ll find two spaces filled with paintings by 12 artists. These artists have passed through the Turps Studio Programme, and their works make up Turps Painters 2019, an exhibition that revels, simply, in colour.
There is a remarkable brevity of painting on view. The size and subject and ferocity and style vary wildly as you walk through the rooms, the abstraction and the figures and the lines carve out each artist as a separate entity, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into. The exhibition feels fresh, it has an energy coursing through its veins, an immediacy that you must see this art now, otherwise you’ve wasted a week in the heart of Summer.
Despite this variation, the artists do not feel disparate and disconnected from each other. Their collection together feels whole, it is fulfilling, there is no sense that any works have been prioritised or that any have been marginalised. This is testament to the curation of Marcus Harvey and Phil Allen, placing works together that fit together, bringing out their quality and letting them sing for themselves.
Two artists showing demand the bulk of my attention, Charlotte McDonald and Lena Brazin. The sensuous and serene work of McDonald envelops you; each brushstroke floats on the canvas, draws you in, the deceptive simplicity and ease of movement rewards those who linger in front of them. Her paintings are complementary, small scale next to small scale, each amplifying the impact of the other. They are graceful, are they landscapes? Their power exists in the fact that they hold their own in the face of the more imposing works that constitute the rest of the room.
Move further into the gallery and you’ll come across the fascinating world of Lena Brazin. These paintings are of violence, of isolation, of the female figure, of modernity, of that strange disembodied blue head, of fragility, they radiate from the walls on which they are hung. This fragility is emphasised by the visible wooden planks that hold the canvas in place, extending beyond the fabric, bare, the nature of the work is laid naked for us to see, holding up the women staring at us. They are highly stylised, their skin giving way to block colour, their outline more drawn, distanced from the objects they share space with; bullets, guns, bedsheets, ashtrays, and the aforementioned floating blue face.
Others fail to make as much of an impact. The more grotesque, symmetrical work at the opening of the larger room is something you can’t wait to walk away from whilst the more textural works in the same room as McDonald fail to capture the imagination. There are also too many paintings of strange glass ‘bubbles’. These lowlights are hidden amongst the sheer talent and proficiency that Turps Painters 2019 is presenting, a celebration of painting, of vivid colour, a privilege to view.
TURPS PAINTERS 2019
Open 20th -27th July 12-5pm
Unit 12, Taplow House, Thurlow Street, London, SE17 2UQ