Bartholomew Beal: A Heap of Broken Images

24 June - 29 August 2014

The Fine Art Society was proud to hold Bartholomew Beal's first exhibition at the gallery, making him the youngest ever artist to stage a solo show in the gallery's 138 year history. The title A Heap of Broken Images, is borrowed from TS Eliot's landmark poem The Waste Land. The entire body of work is a translation of this literary work into paint on canvas, and whilst some pieces have stayed quite true to that starting point with clear references, others have "run away with themselves" - a process the artist describes as mirroring "how exciting a day in the studio can be, surrounded by paintings in progress". 

Eliot's powerful poem jumps between languages, characters and points of view - much like Beal's atmospheric paintings, themselves heaps of broken images.  There may be a specific starting point for each work but the creative journey is far from certain, with traces of several other ghost paintings which are crucial fragments of the story of that work. Beal walks a fine line between referencing the specifics of his poetic source material and surrendering himself to the possibilities of beautiful accidents inherant in the process of painting.

There is an element of the undecided in each painting, leaving the ideas open for the painting to be finished by the decisions and imagination of the viewer. The generalised man in the middle of each painting leaves much to be concluded and his surroundings are hints and suggestions but nothing final.

Somewhat unusually for works of such an understated appeal, Beal works in saturated colours. His adoption of a bright often unatural palette is combined with obscured shapes and unidentified visual references, further heightening a sense that he is constructing uncloncluded episodes.