Verses in Time
There has been a renewed interest in experimental modes of figuration among painters who have come to prominence in the last 15 years. Mosley, alongside other artists of his generation such as Michael Armitage, Nicole Eisenman, Dana Schutz and Tschabalala Self to name a few, has created an expressive mode of figuration that builds on, challenges and expands the canonical Western painting tradition. Presenting new paintings and works on paper, Verses in Time sees Mosley continuing to radically experiment with the known tropes of figurative painting and portraiture, skilfully creating paintings that embody their own contradictions and play with the audience’s perception of both fact and imagination. Art historical and literary motifs frequently inform the merry assortment of characters threaded through Mosley’s paintings from Degas and Manet, Picasso and Léger. Ghosts of painters past elusively gather under the surface but his work is no mere homage. What he manages to create in his sumptuous works is an utterly unique contemporary experience steeped in painting history but never controlled by it, providing a sly nod to the past while constantly presenting an art wholly of our time. While moving among the works in the exhibition you can see Mosley’s extraordinary, subtle, kaleidoscopic sense of colour. By overlaying thin washes Mosley elegantly manages to create a surface that almost glows, conjuring the stage for his mesmerising world. Bright stains of neon pinks or incandescent orange often pulsate beside shadowy swathes of aubergine purples and greens with the dark charcoal of the drawing occasionally peeping from below. Mosley’s visual universe is populated by an array of fantastical characters from harlequins and cabaret dancers, bearded musicians to unknown travellers. These oddball protagonists come together in delightfully inexplicable narratives that evoke a carnival world of surreal nightlife and macabre theatre. Although many of these characters are rooted in every day observation each one springs from the artists own imagination with many appearing recursively throughout Mosley’s work and thus taking on a lived quality. Verses in Time presents an artist continuing to push the notion of what figurative painting can be and contributing to its increasing relevance in the 21st century.