Elizabeth Rees takes to the stage in a new set of paintings:
With her latest exhibition “Silent Stage” Elizabeth Rees has returned to themes of twenty years ago when many of her figures appeared to come from stage and screen, often highlighted as though on display. With these current works the figurers refer more to the stage and in particular commedia dell’arte.
In that traditional theatrical form characters are often identified by the costumes they wear and complex back-stories.
Using such figures references the Renaissance with many of the characters appearing to derive from the portraits of that period.
The artists work also has a number of connections with Renaissance art such as her use of chiaroscuro.
The brightly costumes refer both to the decorative designs of that period as well as to contemporary twentieth century artists such as Victor Vasarely.
The works also connect with the nature of drama and the Shakespearian quote of “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances” The figures are generally depicted on a stage in front of curtains as though making a first appearance or taking a final bow.
In some cases the curtain material and the material of their costumes are the same as though they are an integral party of their background or as though they are disguising themselves, trying to blend in with their environment.
In “For Show” ($7800) the character standing before the parted curtains seems isolated while the one in “Strike a Pose” ($7800) appears to have wings made of the same material as his garb and strikes a more confident pose.
Some of the faces she paints are refined and simplistic, close to the enigmatic faces of Renaissance artists such as Masaccio while others are more dynamic recalling Francis Bacon.
In works such as “Quiet Entrance” ($7800) more attention has been given to the face giving it an emotional richness while the face of “The Conjuror” ($7800) is enigmatic, possibly reflecting his mysterious craft.
Some figures such as “The Observer” ($10,500) are like images from her earlier works depicturing figures in landscapes.
As with most of her previous figurative works there is a tension between the individual and their environment reflecting an emotional conflict between the private and public life.