Emma Tooth – Concilium Plebis. Exhibition 20 September – 15 November 2008
Concilium Plebis is a new series of oil paintings by UK portrait painter Emma Tooth supported by The Arts Council England. Being shown alongside the International Artists exhibition at Novas CUC.
This is a very special installation of Concilium Plebis for the Liverpool Biennial.
A unique opportunity to step inside Emma Tooth’s world.UK artist Emma Tooth has lovingly painted the ubiquitous “Chavs”, “Hoodys” and “Scallys” who are arguably the life and character of UK. During 2008 she sourced models through social organisations and in some cases actually approached strangers in the street.
Generally only presented in the media in police portraits, CCTV footage and mocking TV shows, here the ASBO generation are presented in the style of Renaissance paintings, lit and posed like Caravaggio’s. Here a boy’s hood casts a deep shadow across his face -is he one of these menacing thugs we’ve heard about on TV or does he have the pensive expression of a saint? There a young tracksuited girl holds her baby, looking for all the world like the Virgin and Child; is she one of those teenage single mums blamed unduly for such a degree of society’s ills?
In an age distinctly lacking in romanticism or soul, it is hard to imagine people will ever look back on the present age or its people with the sentimentality we might feel looking at a Caravaggio or a Rembrandt; the truth is, real life for most people at this time was anything but romantic.
After all, Caravaggio’s models were the people he plucked from the streets. Who can forget his images of angels and wise men with vividly dirty toenails? In 2010 the paintings will appear at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery alongside some rarely seen gems of their Joseph Wright collection. Wright himself was partly influenced by Caravaggio’s Dutch followers and painted real people during the industrial revolution.
These are paintings of real humanity in contrast to “the great and the good” who are the traditional subjects for oil paintings. www.emmatooth.co.uk/Concilium-Plebis