Room with a View of Cliffs

Madison Museum of Fine Art

Stephen Newton’s 2013 work ‘Room with a View of Cliffs’ has been chosen by the Madison Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta – Georgia USA to feature in it’s innovative exhibition programming.

The Museum collection includes paintings, sculpture, prints, and ceramics from around the world. The Museum’s print collection now includes works by Picasso, Dali, Chagall, and Roualt.

While Newton’s work is interpreted in many different ways by many different observers, refreshingly in his own words, Newton provides the following rare personal insight in to this specific work:

My paintings never refer to a specific place that could actually be located somewhere. They don’t have any narratives or symbolism or anything to do with dreams or memories, or any other agendas of any sort. One New York critic used the term ‘stultifying indifference’ to describe them, which I think he meant as a compliment – I certainly took it as one (1). Nevertheless, my painting does deal in emotion and tries to intuitively pinpoint emotions and transfer them to the viewer. 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.

Room with a View of Cliffs is an interior, a psychic interior as much as one that depicts a room. There are only interior or exterior spaces – you are inside or outside; things are either within you or without you. At the core of all my painting is the usually unacknowledged human predicament, so there must be isolation, some barrenness; we are all ultimately alone and of course sooner or later, absolutely alone.

All of my work is seen through an abstract lens. My latest tour in England was called Life in the Abstract. I believe for reasons that I have been writing about for many years that an abstract template is closer to real emotion, that abstracted work somehow distils and intensifies emotion. After all, the overwhelming preponderance of art over the last 50,000 years has been to a degree abstracted and disfigured and it is this abstract essence that can register such an authentic emotional power.

In Room with a View of Cliffs there was however one concession to reality. A few years ago my youngest son bought me a large book on poison frogs, mainly found in South American jungles. Their markings are truly wondrous to behold. One thing is for sure, conceptual art will never compete with nature. The settee and the table in the painting take their markings from a poison frog in that book.

  1. Donald Kuspit: The Post-Modern Icon – Stephen Newton’s Post-Abstract Paintings. In Stephen Newton – Paintings and Drawings 1997-2000 pp.i-ix. (Ziggurat Books, London, 2000).


Stephen Newton (2014)