Painting in the Here and Now at Tate Modern

by Cass Art

Rumours of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. Painting, one of the oldest of our artistic traditions, is back. Or rather, it never went away.

Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists, a new exhibition which opens today at Tate Modern, seeks to re-ignite the debate about painting’s place in contemporary art.

Indeed, today’s art landscape is dizzying and multifarious. In a fluid space increasingly occupied by video, photography, digital and installation art, you would be forgiven for thinking that painting has taken something of a back seat.

In fact, as this new exhibition of five UK-based artists shows, artists have never really left the tools of the craft: the brushes, pens and ink that make paintings come to life. But what they have done is started to think about painting in new, interesting and questioning ways.

Importantly, all the featured artists have developed their own distinctive approach to painting. Painting Now seeks to re-frame the debate around contemporary art and ask what painting can tell us about more or less everything: form, function, experience, life.

The five artists on display are 2006 Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts, Gillian Carnegie, Simon Ling, Lucy McKenzie and Catherine Story. They are all painters, but they are all different too.

Tomma Abts’ work is complex, offering a hidden language disguised by form.  Her pieces are designed on canvas and each one measures exactly 48cm x 38cm. what does this always-same-sized approach tell us about painting?

The paintings of Gillian Carnegie work within the traditional categories of landscape and still-life, but question the relationship we have with the world through a controlled sense of realism.

The plein air discipline is a hallmark of Simon Ling’s work, which explores nondescript urban and rural landscapes where nature and the artificial blend and mesh.

Lucy McKenzie’s diverse body of work crosses fine art, craft, fashion, heritage and commercial art and looks at the variety of languages we can adopt to paint with.

Catherine Story’s art looks real-world and familiar at first; delve deeper though and they appear dreamlike, outside of normal convention in pieces that harness both painting and sculpture.

"What this exhibition shows is that painting becomes a tool used by artists in a variety of different ways," the show's co-curator, Clarrie Wallis, told the Guardian.

"This show makes the case for how important painting is, and how it continues as a really important and vital medium."

Art is painting.

Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists is open now at Tate Modern runs until 9 February 2014. Let us know what you think of the exhibition by getting in touch through our twitter page.

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