press release

Lucy Stein's paintings are rich in colour and texture, and consider the depiction of women in today's society. Combining popular and academic feminist theory, her paintings explore the worlds of female friendships and relationships, and reflect on the position of female painters within art history.

Building up layers of paint until the moment when distinct colours dissolve into indistinguishable sludge, Stein's paintings consider the definitions of feminine beauty. Bordering on ugliness, these works are unresolved, switching between opulence and revulsion. Stein's generous use of paint places her work within a narrative of art that is concerned with the nature of its materials. The painterliness of these images, the tactile materiality of her canvases point to her interest in the abundance and fecundity of women, both mentally and physically, whilst challenging the notion of heroic masculine painting.

The painting Wood depicts a young man standing on a hillside in a Barbour jacket and his underpants. While fireworks explode in the background and despite his looming shadow, he stands dejected, with his erect penis encased in his y-fronts. Is this really the male hero of girlhood fantasy? In Blood'n'Feathers (Courtney Loves You) three girls stand watching the fireworks. Their faces are obscured by a mass of hair, tangled up in heavy thick paint. Having looked at the mythologized ethereal beauties of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Stein's women also have swathes of flowing hair. But she subverts the Pre-Raphaelite's ideal beauty through her use of coarse, gristly, crusty paint. Paint acts as an extension of the body, but denies the glamorous female image in popular culture of the sexy housewife or alluring model. These are real girls enjoying a night out in each other's company. They don't need a hero to keep them amused.

Reactions to Stein's paintings can vacillate between desire and repulsion, admiration and nausea. Dealing with eroticism, femininity and infatuation, Stein addresses the issue of sexuality with both humour and seriousness. Lipstick kisses litter the canvases, fireworks and flying penises metamorphose into heart-shaped sparkles, illustrating the joie de vivre that infuses her approach to painting. Being both critically aware and enthusiastic about the act of painting, Stein is celebrating life; its wealth and sensuality, its ironies and struggles.

Lucy Stein graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2004, and is currently participating in the De Ateliers programme in Amsterdam. This is Lucy Stein's first solo exhibition, and the fourth display in The Lower Gallery at Gimpel Fils. The Lower Gallery is devoted to showcasing challenging and experimental artwork by young, emerging and established artists who have not previously exhibited at Gimpel Fils.

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Lucy Stein "Holy Worry"