29 Jan-26 Feb 2004. Despite recent, often purposely shocking experiments in British art, figurative picture-making is returning. There is a new naturalism, which is splashy and gawky but vivid. At Sala 1 four young residents at the British School at Rome, Angela Gill, Sigrid Holmwood, Simon Morely and Geoff Uglow, practise a certain kind of figuration in different ways. That they were initially trained in all the current disciplines photography, video art etc shows itself in a special vigour and determined manner.
The most painterly are the women. Holmwood paints tangles of flamboyant trees, an effervescence of foliage, against bright high-noon northern skies. These works are not a specific landscape but an imagined one.
By contrast, Gills stone figures, moss, lichen and foliage rise in a muted atmosphere. Limbs in subtle earth-colours merge with the air around them in a dreamlike web, expressing inevitable natural progress and change, the inexplicable work of time.
Uglow is intensely interested in the drama of hollow spaces created by architectural solids. Here he has painted the 1930s "Nuovo Colosseo" in EUR as a relentless pattern of stark blacks and whites. He is measuring and questioning the relationships of architectural space as a history of shapes.
Morley is the closest to "conceptual" enquiry here. He mounts frontispieces of books on canvas and covers them with pastel-coloured paint so that the text is barely discernible. He uses pages from art history books with reproductions of Madonna paintings most of them Sienese and then veils the accompanying print with bright blocks of paint. Morleys work is about the tension between language and image. He plays the visual against the verbal with cunning.
All four artists are of a questing mind, measuring given tools with the space they live in. Edith Schloss