Mitchell-Innes & Nash is pleased to present its fourth solo exhibition of work by British artist Paul Winstanley (b. 1954) on view October 20 through December 3, 2022. The exhibition will include 12 new paintings, all produced over the course of the past year, on view for the first time.
In his essay for the exhibition catalogue, Ben Street writes:
“Looking at a painting of a mountain isn’t much like looking at a real mountain. This is something we can probably all agree on. What the nature of that difference is, and why it might be worth paying attention to, is one of the subjects of Paul Winstanley’s new body of paintings. While we might all agree on that distinction, though – might see it as self-explanatory, even an obvious thing to say – that gap, between being there and not, between closeness and distance, between seeing something and saying something, is the place where Winstanley’s art makes its home.”
Winstanley continues his career-long investigation into the relationship between painting and photography. In these new works he updates and re-paints images of early 19th century Alpine landscape paintings. The process involves initial layers of intervention using physical and digital printing processes that appear to incur damage and trauma to otherwise sublime images. Winstanley then re-constitutes and re-makes these images as new paintings for a more skeptical and problematic age.
Two works, At the Gallery 1 and At the Gallery 2, feature two of these paintings in a modernist gallery setting with anonymous engaged viewers and others, passing-by, making blurry progress. This marks a subtle shift from a group of earlier works by Winstanley featuring Renaissance paintings in similar, contemporary gallery settings being admired or ignored in equal measure. Ben Street writes:
“The Romantic convention of rückenfigur – a human figure seen from behind, gazing into the depths of a landscape – is a proxy for the viewer, a kind of avatar, that gets reanimated in these images. What these paintings offer to them and to us is the possibility of an experience that might not yet be foreclosed, something to which the act of painting might, even now, so late in the day, grant us access.”
The new works included in My Heart’s in the Highlands present moments of intimacy and universality, offering comfort in the unknown. Winstanley’s photographic realism combined with painterly softness results in a sense of dreamlike wonder and ethereal openness, a certain romantic longing that Winstanley has mastered in his work and continues to build upon.