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‘In the Cities Life is Smaller’
An exhibition of new paintings by Rachel Mercer

*Monday, 4 March 2024 10:00  - Saturday, 9 March 2024  17:00*



The Gallery at Green and Stone

251 - 253 Fulham Road

Opening Hours:
Monday–Saturday 10.00–17.00

+44 (0) 207 352 0837

Exhibition Foreword by Julian Bell (painter, writer and LRB columnist)  

Here is frontline figure painting for the 2020s - raw with a kick, like a jump in cold water. A subtle mind takes a running leap into the Eastend's shopping centre cum indoor market, the Stratford Centre. Look at the way the foot of a scrapping schoolkid alights on the canvas edge in Duel. That's awkward, in a sense. It prods us: 'This is a made rectangular object, remember. Not a photodocumentary, but a bunch of muscular decisions taken in tight confines.' We're jolted from our smiling at a street comedy of rolled-up papers weaponized, our empathy with that blurry onlooker we glimpse foreground left. A blurriness that's awkward also - but likewise, it's a reality check. 'I paint what got through to me', Rachel Mercer implies, 'not what didn't.' Because before and after showing us the street, a painting will always be mind aligned with muscle.

         What sly moves that combination makes here. Plunging into the Stratford Centre, built in 1974 (pre-Westfield and Olympic developments), the painter is stripped of the fallback handhold of tone. Overhead lighting systems and gleaming flooring minimize the gradations that suggest body volume and spatial recession. Puffa jackets and sportswear further compact the human units, the customer footfall, into so many cut-outs. Mercer's eye swims in and out and right up close between those units - see her terse snatched sketches - and then in her studio she restages the shock of encounter in blurts and forward bounds. Brushwork that wins brawls with itself. Look how the other fighter, or the righthand woman in Pigeon - the one with the red trolley - declare themselves at us, instantly readable, almost in contradiction of the colour information. Manet and Rembrandt would respect what's happening there.

         Figure painting is old and new and forever. People paint people wondering what entities they themselves are. Odd activity, undeniably, and potentially uncomfortable - who does this human drone think she is, swooping in among the East End consumers? But that question is close to what Mercer's asking herself. What is there for her to know of the mother with the baby carrier in Charge? Neither her face, maybe, nor her name. What matters more deeply, however, is what both women share: strength to stand, strength to bear, animation, mobility. Fellow-feeling drives these unruly, lively paintings. Pretty is not what they aim at. Where they touch down is joy.

A physical catalogue of the exhibition is available to purchase for £10 each.
The Catalogue was designed by Library Design Studios
If you would like one please email me with you name and address. 
Past Exhibitions: 
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Past Exhibitions 

 June 2023 - NEAC annual exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
For details about the PV, exhibition catalogue and price list visit the New English Art Club website here 
Oil on Board 
46.5 x 61cm

Zimmer Stewart Gallery 

Reflections at King Edward VII's Hospital
curating art and wellbeing

On display now until Jan 2024

For details about the PV, exhibition catalogue and price list visit the Zimmer Stuart website here 
Oil on Board 

“As it was, As it will be = As it is”



Fitzrovia Gallery. 139 Whitfield St, London W1T 5E


Open daily 11am-7pm or by appointment

As it was, as it will be = As it is, is an exhibition of new works by five painters engaged in a process of direct experience, mark-making and discovery. For each artist, the image is found in the moment of painting, and it is this ‘presentness’ that creates a dialogue between material and subject. The paintings exist somewhere between abstraction and figuration, each at a point of resolution in an ongoing process of exploration and play.


Chris Burn’s paintings are unashamedly childlike in subject and iconography. Figures and objects are seemingly weightless or perhaps mid-fall. Painted with brutal force and abandon, buoyed by the poster-paint colours and cartoonish characters, his work reflects a passion for experimentation and directness.  


A similar approach is found in the paintings of Jaime Valtierra which present themselves with impressive force and power. The images come screaming into existence like a newborn child. The figures reflect recent themes of family life and memory, limbs jut out creating shapes and spaces within the painting.


In the works of Paul Fenner memories of people and places are also a recurring theme. The spaces become distorted and compressed. ‘Wrestlers in a landscape (Jacob and the Angel)’ sets up rhythms between inside and outside, the figures move through space, each brushstroke capturing their action and gesture.


Rachel Mercer’s paintings juxtapose everyday scenes and classical themes creating psychologically charged images in which the physicality of the figures is asserted in the forceful use of paint. Grappling and embracing, the fraught protagonists move across the canvas creating a sense of disappearance and presence. 


Pepe Vives' improvisations in monochrome are joyful in design whilst simultaneously gritty and dark. The abstract, unnamable forms vibrate, pushing and pulling in space. Pepe works intuitively often motived by a movement or a feeling, completing the painting in one sitting without over-painting or reworking the paintings are records of a unique performance. 




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