Lacey Contemporary, London, is Now Open

Lacey Contemporary, which officially launched last night, opened its doors for a sneak preview with a diverse and energetic show of painting at the end of September. The gallery, nestled in a quiet corner of Notting Hill, is the brain child of art-lover Andrew Lacey whose passion and ambition shine through in this show as well as in his plans for future exhibitions. Although the gallery’s heart seems to lie with painting, there is no sense of undue restraint in the programme, with a contemporary sculpture show and the final of the Winter Pride awards coming up. Even the selection of paintings on show, not to mention the painters on the roster, belies a genuine passion for the medium untainted by prejudice or fashion, which makes Lacey Contemporary stand out from the crowd.

The atmosphere is one of restrained reverence: the most exacting, pristine lighting dissolves the boundary between commercial showroom and contemplative space, so that the artworks hold their own against the traditional model of the white cube, giving the viewer the space to fully absorb them. Although the gallery is set within a hotbed of potential clients to whom the works are carefully directed, there is no sense here of commercial interests trumping aesthetic ones. The space is light and friendly, while the work is the right balance of accessible and challenging, which has been achieved through a curatorial mandate that favours breadth over needless obscurity.

The most established artist on the books is Ross M Brown, known for his re-imaginings of derelict architectural landscapes. The realism of these paintings draws you into a world of Brown’s creation until the real world becomes fable and you realise that what began as a mere picture has become a series of emotional inflections associated with a place you cannot quite reach. Something similar occurs in the hyper-realist paintings of Katie Buckett, where the tradition of portraiture envelops animals as well has humans, making for surrealist conjunctions of characters in banal situations. Another painter, Katrine Roberts, explores the gap between the physical and metaphysical in broad strokes of bold colour. Roberts’ work has an expressionistic surface, beneath which simmers an intellectual agenda that questions the nature of representation.

This snapshot of the gallery’s artists provides a tantalising glimpse of what is to come. Here are three painters whose conceptual similarity has to be drawn out of their aesthetic difference, but whose work sits together very comfortably. Processed Space, which opened last night, features art from Brown and two other artists, Geoff Diego Litherland and Merlin Ramos. The new exhibition explores the tension between the natural world and its grasping appropriation by human influence. Lacey Contemporary will flourish if it continues to have the courage to present artists whose outward dissimilarity makes an exhibition look delightfully incongruous, while preserving the curatorial intelligence to plausibly blend it all together.

Processed Space: Ross M Brown, Geoff Diego Litherland, Merlin Ramos until 2 November, Lacey Contemporary, 8 Clarendon Cross, London, W11 4AP.

Daniel Barnes

1. Katrine Roberts, Pregnant Bubbles, acrylic on canvas, 140 x 120, courtesy of the artist and Lacey Contemporary.

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