STEVENSON is pleased to present Memory of What Never Was, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Deborah Poynton.
It’s as if we are forging through the present like fish through water, fragments of now streaming past our eyes, the trail behind us composed of unknowable moments. Memory doesn’t come in an ordered net of known cause and known effect. It’s a foamy mix of debris, flotsam and jetsam.
Paintings, like memory, also just snatch at the passing flow of the world. In the words of the artist in John Banville’s novel The Blue Guitar, ‘Painting, like stealing, was an endless effort at possession, and endlessly I failed.’
I cast about for things to steal. A sky from this moment, a piece of rubbish from that, a trope, an idle fantasy, an echo from another painting. Out of these scraps I make memories of what never was. It is a form of rapacious theft from that present which is always, always disappearing behind my back, running through my hands.
Painting is a failure to grasp the present, but there is relief in failure. Rather the endless attempt than to be caught up in rationale, in causes and effects, a weighted net that offers only finality. Tiny detail by tiny detail, painting gives a beautiful, imaginary shape to the flowing hours, the flowing years.
For this exhibition, Poynton presents five large panels that hang closely together, each containing a figure or scene in a separate yet continuous world; these are painted with passages of acute detail, for which she is renowned, thrown into stark relief against areas of white canvas. This major series is accompanied by two large single panels and a group of miniature-like paintings of scenes from day and night, real life and the imagined.
This is Poynton’s 10th solo exhibition with the gallery. A survey of her work will be presented at the Drents Museum – which has a particular focus on contemporary realism – in Assen, the Netherlands, in 2020.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 4 July, 6 to 8pm.
Poynton exhibits concurrently with Edson Chagas.