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Malcolm Liepke | The Twilight Salon

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1

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Thursday, 15 February 2024 to Friday, 8 March 2024

Pontone Gallery is excited to announce an exhibition of new paintings by critically-acclaimed American painter, Malcolm Liepke. This series continues his exploration of the male and female figure, clothed and unclothed, alone and, on occasion, in intimate groups. His major concerns are to express the personality of his sitters and to do so through a skilful and seductive handling of sumptuous oil paint.

Liepke’s technique is loose and fluent. The paint is briskly applied in sweeps and clusters of gestural marks which describe the form and contour of flesh and clothing. The application is economical, but always subtle and sensitive to nuance and the essential physical attributes of a variety of surfaces, most especially, skin. Liepke’s response to the body is to use the materiality of his medium to mimic and evoke the materiality of his subject; it is as if the paint film takes on the textural characteristics of the human model.

The painter takes delight in manipulating colour and deploying it to evoke a strong and sensual aesthetic reaction. Lime, lemon, orange and brick red are juxtaposed with cool sharp blues to frame the muddy pink tones of pale flesh. Liepke makes reference to the astringent, pastel hues of Degas and Lautrec. His is a similarly twilight world, a modern-day ‘fin de siècle’ - lit by artificial light, giving little or no clue as to time of day or night.

The compressed and cropped nature of his compositions make for intense studies, which bring the viewer into a close confrontation with his subjects, who are a cohort or clique of the young and casually glamorous. Outwardly indifferent and self-absorbed they both invite and studiously ignore scrutiny. Liepke documents this somewhat playful contradiction to make snapshot images of a mediated world where only the right kind of attention is both courted and desired, and ‘self-curation’ is the name of the game.

Artist ( Description ): 

American artist, Malcolm Liepke was born in 1953 and raised in Minneapolis. He is an experienced, mid-career painter who has exhibited all over the world; his work is represented in numerous private and public collections.
 

He is a painter of a particular world, a 'demi-monde', inhabited by mostly young and attractive subjects, who project an air of self-absorption and watchfulness. Isolated figures pose with an almost insolent self-regard, others appear more vulnerable, as if exhausted by the rigours of a dissolute life. Particularly of note are the group compositions, where his subjects interact, evoking tender and sensual feelings, modifying the potential solipsism of their characters. Genuine emotion is on display in a world of mutual grooming and self-presentation.
 

Liepke paints with an assured, expressive and fluent handling of his medium. His frank enjoyment of the texture of male and female flesh is fully embodied in the rich and luscious quality of the oil. Thick, clotted and sticky passages contrast with slick, fluid glazes. Cream-like paint is laid down in planes of acidic, pastel hues of greens, blues, pinks, purples and oranges, making dramatic contrast with descriptive areas of pale skin-tones. His responsive manipulation of the brush and medium subtly reacts to the contour and surface of the subject, articulating a world of sensation.
 

The compositions speak of an interior, artificially-lit, urban world: a locale of bars, nightclubs, studios and house-parties. There is an accompanying sense of erotic intoxication. This is a milieu familiar to us from the paintings of Degas, Lautrec, Manet, Hopper, Sargent and many others. Liepke, painting his contemporary cast of provocative characters, makes a connection with the past and presents us with an archetypal portrait. The inhabitants of this 'bohemian' world are as serious and worthy of study as anyone.

Telephone: 
+44 20 7730  8777
Venue ( Address ): 

Pontone Gallery, 74 Newman Street, London, W1T 3DB

Pontone Gallery , London

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