Magazine of art press and reviews from London
David Franchi – Saturday, 23th July 2016.
It has been an involving exhibition “Abstract Realism” by Stephen Newton, at the Art Bermondsey Project Space, London.
Stephen Newton is a revered painter and drawer whose exploration of human psyche connected to art is very interesting.
He is committed to a consistent theoretical position. His approach has been object of academic papers, lectures and publication.
About its work, Stephen Newton focuses on the creative process from a point of view that mixes the corporeal and the cerebral parts, exploring the fundamental primitive nature by using primeval images of immense power. His compositions are rarefied, using large fields showing the materiality of colours, on a canvas that has symbolic figures and signs. His skilled technique is quite physical.
Usually, Newton’s works reflect the common contemporary issues of human beings: a sense of isolation, unawareness, scantiness and fragility. The images and symbols of the works, for example a door or a chair, propose a vague salvation.
The work of Stephen Newton is inspired by the cave painting. Therefore, it refers to the archaic meanings, the ancestral human needs that have been lost with the civilisation. Pre-historic humans were not involved in the contemporary life emptiness, but rather tried to build up relationships between individuals themselves, the surrounding environment and the unknown transcendent. The birth of society would bring more rules and less psychological introspection – Roman’s maxim Ubi societas ibi ius gives a clue.
The exhibition “Abstract Realism” was almost on his recent work, with few pieces from way back.
The exhibition “Abstract Realism” at the Art Bermondsey Project Space in London, showed Newton’s twenty year long sophisticated investigation on psychoanalysis and psychometric of art.
Connected to primitive manic symbols, “Abstract Realism” evoked subconscious spirituality by absorbing loneliness, disassociation, defeat, panic, degradation, etc. For example, these conditions are represented by a vacant room or an empty chair, however connecting to the visitors through symbolic stairs, or an open door or a window or a mirror. These two spaces were often divided by a dichotomy line which could represent a horizon, or the yin and the yang, or the good and the evil, etc.
Stephen Newton is born in Grimsby in 1948. He holds a number of academic titles, including an MA in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University (1986), an MA in Art and Psychotherapy from the University of Sheffield (1993) and a PhD in the psychoanalysis of the creative process, Department Of Psychiatry, University of Sheffield (1998). In 1998 Newton was appointed Visiting Lecturer, School of Art, University of Sunderland and Visiting Professor, University of Northumbria at Newcastle. In 1999 he was appointed Visiting lecturer, Centre for Psychoanalytical Studies, University of Essex and in 2010 Visiting Lecturer, University of Lincoln.
His work has been exhibited across the UK. He has published two books; ‘Painting, Psychoanalysis, and Spirituality’ published by Cambridge University Press (2001) and ‘Art & Ritual: A Painter’s Journey’ published by Ziggurat Books International (2008).
The exhibition “Abstract Realism”, by Stephen Newton, was at the Art Bermondsey Project Space, London, from 18th May until 26th June 2016.