Highlights from the Contemporary Art Exhibit Reflections

One of the wonderful things about curating this contemporary art exhibit with my colleague Vivienne Roberts was the fact that we could include so many exceptional paintings -in total 48 works! This art show features four emerging artists – Ben Westley Clarke, Oliver Dorrell, Joana Galego and Paul Newman. Together these painterly reveries seem to be intimate and mystical portraits of desire and despair. Within we find pastoral interludes under the veil of the mystical, as well as post-apocalyptic and stark scenes of the ordinary rendered in neo-Expressionist and Surrealist form. The artists’ sources are many: contemporary environmental and socio-political crises, city scenes, historic British painting, fifteenth century Indian verse, the work of Arthur Rimbaud, the enduring theme of the journey, the inheritance of Spanish painting as well as the more intimate and autobiographical. 

Westley Clarke, Dorrell, Galego and Newman while divergent in their stylistic approach share a commitment to exploring and reworking visual and literary sources, the history of art, travel and exile, and or personal stories within painting, reflecting as such a universal human experience. In their hands, the play of pigment, chiaroscuro, collage, graphic sensibility and figuration and a sense of the unknowable allows an elemental yet complex beauty to emerge. Within this context, it is the artist’s journey that creates new visions for a contemporary world. 

Oliver Dorrell Bald Poets, 2020

Paul Newman Black Rainbow II, Study 2017

Joana Galego Mother Fleeing as a Teen, 2019

Ben Westley Clarke La Terraza, 2019

A catalog is available here. Please visit the Aleph website for a full version of my essay as well as a virtual tour of show.

2 thoughts on “Highlights from the Contemporary Art Exhibit Reflections

  1. Beautiful words! I especially like the idea of “intimate and mystical portraits” creating “new visions of a contemporary world” linking the artists together. It follows that even with such varied influences and styles, it strikes a chord with our universal human experience.

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