LEO FITZMAURICE: BETWEEN YOU AND ME AND EVERYTHING ELSE
An Arts Council Collection National Partners exhibition at Walker Art Gallery
Artist Leo Fitzmaurice will create an assembly of portraits at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery as part of a new exhibition, which asks visitors to look twice at what might, at first, seem familiar. Leo Fitzmaurice: Between You and Me and Everything Else (29 September 2018 to 17 March 2019) will include artworks from the Arts Council Collection and National Museums Liverpool’s own collection.
More than 30 portraits by artists including Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Milena Dragicevic, Ken Kiff, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and Philip Sutton will feature in the exhibition, which takes place in Room 9 at the Gallery.
A painting from the Lady Lever Art Gallery features as an important work in the display; Psamathe (1879-80) by Frederic, Lord Leighton, depicts a female nude from behind. The subject appears to be looking out to the sea in front of her. It is this “tone of inquisitiveness in the world beyond” that Wirral-based Fitzmaurice hopes to expand upon in the exhibition.
Leo Fitzmaurice said: “Almost always, in my work, I try to frame the everyday and the overlooked in a new light. So, rather than seeing myself as a maker, I consider myself a maker of things apparent – I would think an artwork successful if the work could give the feeling of encountering something familiar for the first time.
“With this piece I have thought about portraiture, and the portrayed, from first principles; for me, portraiture is the depiction of a face on a two-dimensional plane. This grouping of portraits is my way of saying something new about this age-old problem.”
The artist presents familiar things in ways that make the viewer question what they see and what they know about them. At first glance, Room 9 may look like many other rooms in the Gallery. However, on closer inspection visitors will notice something unusual about the placement of the portraits and the direction in which the sitters appear to be looking.
For the artist, the process of selecting the portraits is a way of ‘slicing through’ the collections of National Museums Liverpool and the Arts Council Collection. This simple process has revealed interesting things about portraiture and the collections.
Beth Lewis, Arts Council Collection Project Curator at the Walker Art Gallery, said: “Leo has a wonderful ability to see the potential in the so-called ‘everyday’. His practice encourages us to look twice and see things differently, often changing our perceptions through his very subtle interventions.”
The varied selection of portraits ranges from Portrait of a Young Man, perhaps George Stubbs (1744-8) – a painting considered to be an early portrait of the famous Liverpool-born artist George Stubbs, attributed to William Caddick – to Milena Dragicevic’s Supplicant 101 (2008), a colourful portrait of one of the artist’s friends, in which the sitter’s face is partially distorted by a beak.
Richard Hamilton’s pop art collage, Portrait of Hugh Gaitskell as a Famous Monster of Filmland (1964), depicts a Labour politician who refused to endorse a non-nuclear policy, while one of two paintings by Edward Le Bas portrays artist and writer Angelica Garnett, the daughter of his close friend, Bloomsbury Group artist Vanessa Bell. The portraits often provide an insight into the sitters’ status, power and personalities.
Beth Hughes, Curator at the Arts Council Collection, said: “It is always an exciting experience when an artist approaches the Collection with their unique, artistic eye and creates a fresh and dynamic presentation.
“We are thrilled that the Walker Art Gallery chose Leo Fitzmaurice to create this immersive exhibition and that our works have been brought into the artistic approach Leo has been working on for a number of years. Arts Council Collection holds so many bold portraits; Leo has expertly handpicked a diverse range and unified them in his intriguing concept.”
Shropshire-born Fitzmaurice studied painting at Leicester Polytechnic, Liverpool Polytechnic and Manchester Metropolitan University. His work features in many collections, including the Arts Council Collection, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Manchester Art Gallery, The Royal London Hospital, Locus+ Archive, and numerous private collections.
In 2012, Fitzmaurice was the recipient of the fifth Northern Art Prize. He exhibited in the John Moores Painting Prize in 2004. Most recently he has been involved in the international galleries initiative Condo, and he is currently working on a permanent commission at Chambers Wharf, London for Thames Tideway. Fitzmaurice will be represented by The Sunday Painter at Frieze London 2018.