The Journal – Oct 2014.

The journal - October 2014

A painter who captures life in abstract is the focus of our October column from ELAINE MUNSON AND GILL GIBBON, the owners of Grimsby’s Abbey Walk Gallery …

As human beings, we are mysterious creatures, but what makes us tick — our hopes, desires. our fears and secret pains —is what bonds us together. Viewing the work of Stephen Newton, you place yourself amid his scenes of solitude and isolation, where the mind is cast into the contemplation of the human condition and eternal things. However, Stephen feels his work “is an expression” and doesn’t stem from a set idea.

“My paintings never refer to a specific place that could actually be located. They don’t have any narratives or symbolism or anything to do with dreams or memories, or any other agendas of any sort.”

His attitude towards his work is clear, as it is not just an extension of him, but something bigger. Stephen has exhibited extensively
throughout Europe, America and the UK. The latest acquisition of his work is Room With A View Of Cliffs, now housed at the Madison Museum of Fine Art, America.

As well as being a nationally and internationally-acclaimed artist, he is also a highly commended author with a distinguished academic career.

Stephen lives between London and Grimsby, where his studio is based. He paints in Lincolnshire because of the light.

He buys his paint by the litre, opens the tins so the evaporative effect causes premature thickening and thus he is able to lay down those remarkably thick layers of texture. In fact, you are immediately struck by this assertion of surface and its materiality which come from the artist’s exploration of the processes of painting and his subconscious.

Stephen’s paintings portray compelling elemental images — odd objects and parts of buildings, walls, staircases, chairs and
windows, images that are raw and uncompromising, a reminder to the viewer of how buildings encapsulate our hopes and fears on many levels.

“Many have told me that they are somehow moved by my work or that the image becomes stuck in their head — but they don’t know why. There doesn’t appear to be any obvious reason for this, which can itself be paradoxical or disturbing.”

His paintings are a combination of figuration and abstraction, creating a subtle provocative tension between the bold formal qualities and the often intimate figurative content that emerge through their abstract layers. Stephen subverts the recognisable and allows the familiar to become strange through odd juxtapositions and details.

Ultimately, however, his paintings leave the viewer to
develop their own meanings out of layered images and illogical compositions.

Stephen has several exhibitions in the pipeline, as well as a solo show at Hastings, he will be part of two group shows at Ipswich Museum And Art Gallery and Huddersfield Art Gallery.

Stephen will also be represented in January 2015 at the London Contemporary Art Fair, by Abbey Walk Gallery.

■ For further information, contact Gill or Elaine on +44(0)1472 241007, email art@abbeywalkgallery.com or visit www.abbeywalkgallery.com