How many exhibition works:
Malcolm Liepke’s new paintings pulse with life, full of coruscating colour, dramatic composition and seductive evocations of the body. The entire focus and centre of attention is the figure. His subjects are graphically expressed in confident, gestural brushwork that describes form in clots, smears and slicks of sticky, glutinous oil paint.
Liepke works with a cast of characters, young models who act out world weary and self- absorbed scenarios. On occasion they challenge the viewers’ gaze, staring back as if to say “well...and?”. There is an erotic charge to much of this provocation. Some pictures are frank explorations of sensuous male and female appeal. Liepke’s deft handling roils and wallows in his rich colour palette. Exploiting contrast, he throws dense charcoal blacks against pale and livid flesh tones. He deploys a vocabulary of playful and knowing tropes: liquid eyes glisten, mobile fingers touch and cradle, glossy hair coils and tumbles, full lips are moist. Liepke crops his views close, the subject fills the frame, the object is unambiguous.
The artist’s method and content brings Manet to mind. Facility goes hand in hand with gaucheness. Liepke presents contemporary types, playing with the surface appearances of ‘modernity’, who tease with their outward indifference and ostensible blankness. This appears a superficial ‘floating world’ of people doing not very much at all. Nevertheless, it is real, as much as Manet’s ‘demi monde’.
There are some new developments in this set of paintings. A couple of pictures investigate some overtly expressed emotion. ‘Inner Voices’ shows a man on a bed rocking back and forth, his head painted in several positions, angst-ridden and contorted. ‘Hard Times’ documents a troubled state, where another figure, head slumped in hands, is an intimate portrait of despair. Whatever the public face presented, Liepke reaches behind the mask and reveals the question “do you see me”.
74 Newman Street,