Stephen Price
Stephen Price’s rich humanistic portraits are textural yet delicate, layered with a concoction of marks and surfaces that appeal on both an emotional and visual level. Price uses his imagination along with photographic source material from the internet to develop non-existent figures that inhabit their own timeless worlds. Price’s work reflects on his black identity using materials such as charcoal to celebrate the beauty of blackness, as well as atmospheric colour to ground these nameless and faceless figures in nature. The works’ seductive velvety charcoal areas sit in harmony with more gestural, glossy areas of bright acrylic paint that punctuate and surround his figures. Price is particularly concerned with colour and its emotive power in relation to the landscapes his figures inhabit - the worlds he creates are informed by both psychological and art historical research. When rendering each figure, Price uses gesture to create a haziness that simultaneously highlights and obscures the artist and figure’s own feeling and emotion, allowing his colour palette to take centre stage. These built up layers of charcoal are peppered with windows to the surfaces and tones below, giving the work a tenderness which sits in contrast to Price’s slightly rudimentary, loose approach. Deviating from the physical image by combining his imagination and memory, Price create works that have an ambiguous smokiness that distills the figure down to their feelings. Price’s textures and washes are built up gradually - each layer leaving a glimpse of the previous one, giving the works a luminescence which bestows these figures with a somewhat celestial feel. In contrast to fluid marks, crude striations appear across the textured areas as Price scratches through to reveal more saturated areas of colour. The works have a somewhat scarred feel - these are figures and situations that feel lived in, bringing to mind weathered frescos or sgraffito. Price was born and raised in Palermo, and these works feel firmly rooted in the ancient despite their expressive nature. Collapsing space and time, the human figure is isolated and refined as a product of their emotion. The works succeed by and large due to Price’s varied and effective use of material, which results in an abundance of finishes and marks that together help to communicate the hazy presence of a figure that feels somewhat weathered and eroded.

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