In January 2016 The Fine Art Society, in collaboration with I.P. Arts, presented the second solo exhibition of British painter Bartholomew Beal, the youngest artist to be exhibited in the gallery’s 140 year history.
The show followed his successful debut in 2014 based on T. S Eliot’s landmark poem The Waste Land, and took inspiration from William Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The title, ‘This Great Stage of Fools’ is a direct quote from William Shakespeare’s seminal tragedy. The play is a rich source of inspiration for Beal drawing on the emotive themes and dramatic theatricality of the piece to great effect and his new body of work sees him continue to explore the links between visual language and literature.
The artist maintains a fine balance between referencing the specifics of the play as his source material and leaving the ideas open-ended for transition and fragmentation through the process of painting. A sense of place is often left tentative and unresolved and the central figure in the middle of each painting remains anonymous, their inward personal drama merely implied against a backdrop of saturated and vivid colour. The result is a vibrant, lively and ultimately humanistic work rich in pathos and understated personal trauma.
Art writer and curator, Edward Lucie-Smith commenting on Beal said:
“Bartholomew Beal is a leading member of a fascinating new generation of artists. He represents a number of things that give one hope for the notion of an ‘avant-garde’ in the visual arts, at a time when what professes to be avant-garde, and is supported as such by our great official institutions, seems increasingly confused and stultified – uncertain about where to go or what to do next. These are paintings designed to give pleasure – a pleasure that is only on the surface uncomplicated, but which becomes increasingly subversive the more closely we look.”