5 London Painters, Leeds 2009
Curated by Nicholas Usherwood, with exhibition text, October 2009
Unlike many curated shows of the present moment, this selection of work is not dominated by an intellectual scheme but rather by the selectors’ long-standing interest in, and admiration for, the work of the artists concerned (none of whom, remarkably enough, has ever shown substantially in the city before, even Leeds-born Christopher P. Wood). Thus Maurice Cockrill RA (b 1936), the most senior figure here and a painter always much admired by other artists nationally and internationally, has developed his painterly abstraction to a point where the subject and form of his painting emerges from the free flow of gesture and the encouragement of chance. Stephen Chambers RA (b.1960), like Maurice Cockrill, is a Royal Academician but of a rather younger generation, his paintings, rich with precise drawing and luminous decorative colour, transforms the familiar and everyday, delivering to us a world of great beauty and exotic mystery. Lino Mannocci (b1945) was born in Italy but has lived and worked in London since graduating from the Slade in 1975. Since then he has shown all over the world though principally in London and Italy. His paintings, with their characteristically limited pallet of sophisticated whites and muted earths create scenes of seemingly infinite quietude and poetry.
Luke Elwes (b1961) came to prominence in the early 1990s with a series of remarkable exhibitions that developed out of his exploratory travels to a wide range of different landscapes worldwide and are, in some sense, a reminiscence, or distillation, of that experience. He seeks to document the inner experience of his journeys by exploring the memories which surface through the act of painting, a process which for Elwes, is ‘a continuous process of loss and recovery.’ Christopher Wood (b1961), though born in Leeds, where he continues to live and work, graduated from Chelsea in 1986 and it is through a succession of solo exhibitions in London that he has established his reputation as a painter of great imaginative vision, an explorer of the inner world, weaving together imagery drawn from a huge variety of sources in a rich painterly fabric of dream-like character.
Five artists then with apparently rather different concerns yet, all of them, in one way or another, drawn to the power of paint as a means to transform and heighten our understanding of the world and its innate, imaginative richness.