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Review: Michael Stubbs at The Cornerstone Gallery


Layer on layer (…on layer… on layer) of interior gloss paint, poured over stencils and digital images create paintings about the process of painting, and the life of an artist in the age of the internet.

Michael Stubbs has influenced painters across the country for decades, with teaching positions and public exhibitions in Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Stuttgart and Sao Paulo (a few of many). His work is intensely graphic and culminates in most cases in barely interpretable layers of dripped canvas edges.

I studied at Hope, and remember when the Cornerstone was a constant buzz of exhibitions like this. The walkway in the main hall was never the ideal spot for an exhibition launch (crammed with bodies all jostling to get back to the stairs for the bar), but it has always been, and will always be, a brilliant place to see paintings when the launch-party noise has died down.

It is a shame the space isn’t used as often for public exhibitions these days. I’m glad it’s back in action properly.

The uninterrupted views between paintings, bolstered by the depth that the large vide between the ground floor and the roof joists leaves, means you are constantly grounded, and always focussed on the work in front of you.

In many other galleries, I imagine Michael Stubb’s paintings could be misunderstood as graphic experiments. But they’re more engaged and more planned. He says in his artist statement, that they are designed to “refer the viewer to the act of making a painting in the age of internet overload.”

That’s specifically about the more recent additions of digital print into the background of these painted collages, but the stencils in the foreground, of WiFi symbols and browser refresh tabs, are maybe even clearer. The prints, mostly of photographs of Dulux Trade gloss paint tins, dripping with the paints used to create the canvas’ structure, kind of do the opposite.

Rather than grounding the work in the idea of “internet overload”, they clarify that these -paintings are still made in real, physical, human spaces.

Michael Stubbs’ paintings were on display at The Cornerstone Gallery, in Liverpool Hope’s Creative Campus, last month as part of Angel Field Festival.
Words, Kathryn Wainwright

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