Sunday, 6 November 2011

UnMasterclass 42

Paul Housley’s layered and charmingly grubby paintings usually adhere to a particularly contemporary version of the still life genre, featuring objects of popular culture as a consistent subject.  Normally the final composition sits on top of several previous paintings, as if the artist is constantly at odds with transferring what is before his eyes to the canvas. Housley, perhaps in a manner akin to the master painters of old, eschews the photograph as an option for painting from, preferring to paint directly from life. This is an interesting construct for the painter of modern life; to do an act that is so traditional, and yet in the case of Housley, to do this in a way that continues to move on the lexicon of painting. Interestingly, to our purposes, the artist has recently produced some paintings that call upon past painter’s works. These are neither parody nor homage, though they may appear on first appearances to be both. Like Joffe and Pye’s Tate exhibition discussed last week, Housley has created paintings that are equal parts his and that of other artists. Here we see self portraits of Housley that are painted in a hybrid style, equal parts his own style combined with that of other painters. Here we recognise Picasso, Rembrandt or Valesquez morphed with the modern day doppelganger of Housley. Housley masterly manages to step between times, to have one foot poking into 16th century Holland or mid 20th century Mougins, whilst standing steadfastly in the pose of a 21st century distinguished painter. UnMasterclass’s latest episode can be seen here

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