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Richard Clegg
Dan Coombs
Chantal Joffe
Peter Ashton Jones
Darren Murray
Neal Tait
Covadonga Valdes

MAY 6th – 29th 2011

The Medieval 'Scholastic Method' was a method of teaching and learning adopted by cathedral schools and early universities that aimed to replicate original processes of discovery, as much as they could be understood at the time, to establish truth. The method featured two principle components; exposition (lectio) and disputation (disputatio). Disputatio can be defined as 'argument, discussion, debate, dispute.'

This diverse group of contemporary painters all know one another....and so, with a conversation at The Hare on Cambridge Heath Rd as the starting point, Disputatio presents a meeting of their works. A conversation ‘between’ the works. An interplay of influence and cross reference that rebounds meaning around the room..... whether the artists are there or not (and mostly they are not).

Richard Clegg often incorporates text and or signs and symbols within his work. Whilst retaining textual articulation and meaning, the use of text also provides conspicuous visual weight. The inclusion of perspex and mirror throws up additional ‘transactions’ within the work that challenge ideas of the illusory and the real in painting.

The nude is intrinsic to Dan Coombs’ compositions. At times detached, but oddly present, his use of the figure can be allied to the emotional ‘temperature’ that might be experienced viewing a still-life painting. ‘Aphrodite’, 2011 is no exception; the figures are positioned, almost classified into their own space, to offer a sense of order and arrangement that serves both formal and personal allegorical purposes: an oddness of pictorial management that gives the painting an unusual sense of hyper-reality.

Chantal Joffe’s pieces 'Victoria' and 'Scarlett' come from a series of recent works that present singular images of women. Substance and significance is arrived at through the presentation of hypothetically constructed ‘personas’ rather than real portraits. Created via admired role models and through the manipulation of scale, posture and brushwork, the paintings imply discomfiting psychological states.

Peter Ashton Jones includes 'The Dartboard', 2011- a work from a recently finished series of thirteen paintings influenced by William James’ Pragmatism: “Thirteen has long been the favourite number for anyone wishing to represent uncontainability and irreducible plurality” Bart Eeckhout.

Darren Murray’s paintings exploit nature and natural phenomena. Images are often appropriated from The National Geographic, however shifts and contrasts of detailed realism and the use of a very personal, stylised visual language, make the paintings less about nature and more about the wrestle between painting and the image.

Restrained narratives and withheld psychologies permeate the experience of viewing Neal Tait’s paintings - until, that is, a moment of ‘definition’ becomes apparent; a negotiable moment, where an alignment of ‘intention’ (in the making) and ‘reception’ (in the reading) make themselves compatible.

Covadonga Valdes renders nature with a diligence for detail that infers ritual in painting. Her meticulous supervision of cumulus foliage (and in this case water as well) to create uninhabited spaces that strain with solitude, is surely what led Geraint Evans to note the artist’s reference to the importance of ‘engaging with the tension between presence and absence’ (Turps Banana, Issue Four)

Richard Clegg was in ‘Der Menschen Klee’ at KIT - Kunst Im Tunnel, part of Kunsthalle Dusseldorf last year. In September he will be in the group show ‘Curating’ at the Pangolin Gallery London, curated by Marcus Harvey.

Dan Coombs has a forthcoming solo show ‘Heaven and Earth’ at The Fine Art Society, London, opening 24 May 2011. Solo shows include "The Dreamers", Fred Gallery , 2009, and The Approach Gallery , 2005.

Chantal Joffe has a solo show next year at Cheim & Read Gallery, New York and is in a group show in September at Turner Contemporary, Margate. She had a solo show at Victoria Miro, London, last month.

Peter Ashton Jones is the co-founding editor of the painting magazine Turps Banana.

Darren Murray was in ‘The Nature of Things’ in 2005, the first presentation by Northern Ireland at the Venice Bienale (curated by Hugh Mulholland) In 2010 he was awarded an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellowship for the British School at Rome.

Neal Tait is in the group show ‘Among Flesh’ at Alison Jacques Gallery London, opening 12th May 2011. In 2009 he had a solo show ‘Les Toits de Parise’, 2009 at White Cube, London and last year he showed in ‘What Have I Done’ (With Tim Stoner and Daniel Coombs) at The Fine Art Society, London.

Covadonga Valdes was recently in ‘Polemically Small’ curated by Edward Lucie-Smith at Charlie Smith Gallery, London and The Torrance Gallery, California. She has just been awarded an Abbey Fellowship, for the British School at Rome, to begin in January 2012.

Text by Della Gooden



'All we Learn, We Learn From You', 2011 (pictured, bottom)
oil on gesso and wood panel
'Shelter From The Ash', 2011 (not pictured)
oil on gesso and wood panel

'Aphrodite', 2011 (pictured, top)
oil on canvas

'Friends and Lovers', 2008 (pictured 4th image down)
oil on linen
'Dibbuk', 2010/11 (not pictured)
oil on linen

'Specchio (Vulgari Eloquentia)', 2011 (pictured, 2nd from bottom)
Acrylic, Plywood, Mirror and clothing

'Sub Appearance', 2011 (2nd from the top)
oil on aluminium

'The Dartboard', 2011 (third from top)
oil on canvas

'Scarlett', 2010 (pictured, third from the bottom)
oil on canvas
'Victoria', 2010 (not pictured)
oil on canvas