Luke Elwes reviews two painting exhibitions: Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists at Tate Britain (through February 9, 2014) and The Edge of Painting, curated by Tess Jaray at The Piper Gallery (through December 30).
Elwes writes that the shows ofer "two quite different perspectives" on the continued relevance of painting. Painting Now, he writes, "and its accompanying text read like a research paper on an endangered species, a clinical exercise in which the work of five disparate painters is put under the microscope to see what clues it might yield to its continued and – in Darwinian terms – surprising existence in ‘what has come to be understood as a post-medium age.’" At The Piper Gallery, he continues, curator and artist Tess Jaray "turns the Tate’s assumption on its head by saying painting needs not words (or a rear-guard action) but a more imaginative and playful approach to the medium itself. The artists she has chosen... reflect her sense that rather than being adrift in a post-medium age, ‘now it seems, all art aspires to the condition of painting’. Here the medium need no longer be the message: indeed it is the medium – paint itself – which stands to limit painting’s progress."