A Review of Contemporary Urbanus @ The Clove Hitch Gallery Liverpool

Composition No.3
Composition No.3

Review by Rachel Tillett

Contemporary Urbanus is an exhibition of urban and geometric art by Mike Rickett and Paul Doran. Mike Rickett and Paul Doran were both founding members of the Liverpool School, which is a new art movement that aims to redefine urban art via geometric painting, using the city of Liverpool as a stimulus.

I had previously never come across The Clove Hitch Gallery, so didn’t know what to expect. The space in which the exhibition was curated, I thought was quite the opposite of the vibe the paintings were emulating. To me the exhibition screamed modern, contemporary and some works were very minimalist, however, the space was quite the reverse. The gallery space is small and homely; it held character with its decorative window bays and stone fire place. There are mirrors and shelves which hold stock from the café below, and some could argue this was lazy and unorganised, however, I quite liked the fact you could see the personality of the place and all the different functions it possesses.  To me the gallery space was unique and stood out from the monotonous white walls of many other galleries in Liverpool.

Mike Rickett has been a student of Fine Art for eight years now and currently works within Liverpool. Rickett’s work encompasses three distinct forms; angular, geometric paintings concentrating on urban scenes around Liverpool as well as 3D reliefs and woodcut prints, also of city scenes around Liverpool.  Personally, I disliked Rickett’s work. I found the pieces unoriginal and lacking in the “wow factor”. Composition No. 3 (Parliament Place), (2013) depicted a horizontal urban city scape of Liverpool. The aim of the Liverpool School is to portray ‘the beauty and soul of the city’ although I strongly disagree with this statement as the linear composition of the work, the minimalistic use of colour and form of the piece left me feeling unimpressed.


In contrast, I liked Paul Doran’s interpretation of the urban environment.  I particularly enjoyed Living (2013); the large scale piece offered a subtle hint of the urban environment via its occasional and scattered composition of vertical lines. The process in which Doran applied the paint was very apparent with the use of layering.  The piece was also textural, which I thought added character and a stark contrast between Rickett’s flush pieces.  Living (2013) was a very gestural and emotive painting, although also had some aspects of figurative painting within the composition. The painterly technique of Doran in this piece reminded me of William De Kooning’s work.

In conclusion, the two artists show Liverpool in very diverse ways; which is what The Liverpool School movement encapsulates. I believe the show utilises the relationship of colour which occupies a unique place in our cultural experience and understanding of Liverpool. The exhibition showcases the potential of The Liverpool School movement which if anything is the main reason to go and witness the two very different artist’s works.

Contemporary Urbanus continues at the Clove Hitch, Hope Street until 14 November 


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