2012 by Jock McFadyen RA
Eleven Spitalfields Gallery until 23 December 2012
After Walter is McFadyen’s latest exhibition and – as I heard some followers profess at the private view – is quite a diversion from his usual subject matter. Nudity, sex and seduction is darkly captured in this body of work, clasped in beautifully ornate gilt frames. The subjects are artfully approached, often theatrical, and sometimes slightly sinister – one in particular has the uncanny feeling of Sickert’s Camden Town paintings (see postcard 55). The bodies are creamy, flushed pink, nude or slightly exposed – through the inviting V of a dress or hoist of a skirt. This pale and soft unfolding is held in dream like atmospheres, watery washes of purple and blue or the dense black that confronts sleeping eyes. The contrast created by these dark stages and their ghostly protagonists is dramatic and eerily probing, giving these scenes the possibility of narrative and the unfolding of emotion. Small but deep incisions of red are telling of lust, in the open mouth and lips of faces or in the fabric of dresses waiting to be undone. There is nothing seedy about these paintings; they have the frank and open regard of old Parisian observations of their Moulin Rouge girls, yet with a mysticism, created in the swathes of paint that cradle these figures into the atmosphere of their paintings.