Kristin Stephenson (Hollis's) new exhibition is titled simply, Skin. We know the range of mark-making in her drawing has long been compelling. Charcoal is variously rubbed, scrubbed and stabbed to describe the form of things, or the skin of things one might say. But here in the big work, The Potter (C.L.), the skin of the drawing, a surface that very much betrays the rhythms of its making, is more important than any likeness to the subject (Cheryl Lucas) herself.
So does Stephenson actually get us under the skin of things? Very probably. We see local critic Andrew Paul Wood giving of himself in ways never revealed before - a process of undressing if you like, of getting beneath the skin of things, involving both artist and sitter over several weeks early this year. The give and take in this nuanced process is revealed in an unexpectedly tender and prone back view presented here in APW #1.
Otherwise, the drawings range in scale and in age from the very recent to several from years past. Woolly (Third), 26 & 27 June 2007 comes from a long and fine line of maniacal sheep. The small framed ballpoint on paper Potsdamer Platz, 2009 has a concentrated sinuous energy to it, that is both very vital and wonderfully old-school in feel.
The coloured painted elements in the show feel more contemporary. There is a variable but soft, strawberry pink ground in R.H. (as J.B.) that adds lustre and presence to the powerful line in the work. Pussy's brushstrokes cleverly suggest both agitation and something more voyeuristic, whilst in Dream, Dream Baby, orange at the top and along both edges conjures poise and unease simultaneously, in a painting that is somehow both elegant and desperately human at the same time.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.