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Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery, London

Mary Rose Beaumont
| Art Review
| 1982

Light is the keynote of this exhibition. It floods over the picture, here picking out a detail, there bathing the subject in sunlight. It is pertinent, I think, that the artist was ten years working with neon lights and fluorescent tubes when, as he says, his love affair with paint, which he had not used since his student days at Hornsey, took over. It also took him away from England to America, where nearly all the present work was executed, largely in California and Florida, although New York, and in Central Park, proved equally inspiring.

Human beings are the principle subject matter, female nudes especially, who have light pouring over them from a window or else they are lying in sybaritic lethargy by the side of a pool. It is a hedonistic world, a world of leisure, of tennis courts and swimming pools. In Central Park too it is leisure activities which are portrayed, sailing boats and roller-skating, more plebeian perhaps, but still a world of enjoyment.

One of the finest paintings in the exhibition is The Skirt, 1979. It is the back view of a woman, naked to the waist, a cat at her feet, in an interior. The architecture of the narrow hallway in which she stands is very carefully worked out, and the mirrors in which she’s reflected make the space ambiguous. It reminded me of Edward Hopper’s urban scenes, as did also the half-length portrait of a man glimpsed through a train window. Another impressive work is Autumn Sonata, 1980, which depicts a matriarchal old lady seated bolt upright beside a contemplative bikini-clad girl, suggesting a memento mori.

As well as oils, there are pastels, watercolors and drawings, the subtlest of which is a sensitive self-portrait, Altogether a delightful exhibition which will appeal to the escapist in all of us.

Mary Rose Beaumont
Mary Rose Beaumont is an art historian, teacher, writer and exhibition curator specialising in the contemporary visual arts.

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