Albemarle Gallery is delighted to exhibit a new sequence of paintings by J Louis. He deploys a polished technique to paint portraits of young, beautiful women. His cast of characters throw dynamic shapes, posing like fashion models. Well-versed in the art of self-presentation, they offer themselves up to our gaze, confident in the knowledge of our eager appreciation.
For J Louis the silhouette is all. It is the dynamic driver of the composition. Isolated against the picture plane, which is absent of any reference or context, the figures inhabit an aesthetic void, a clear space in which the viewer's attention is fully focused on the body and force of personality. The painter creates a clear arena for a pared-down encounter.
Accomplished in the skills of figurative representation, J Louis paints with great fluency and confidence. He tackles the different qualities of skin and variety of tone with slick and subtle brushwork. Strategic renderings of heads, hands and feet punctuate and focus his compositions. Attuned to the elegantly seductive, he shows us the glossy texture of hair, the moist glistening of an eye, the translucent gleam of a highlighted cheekbone. In dramatic contrast, he uses a more robust, and often dark, palette to graphically-delineate the clothing that enfolds the supple limbs of his subjects. The carapace stands out against the flesh, extending a less vulnerable body into the space around it.
These images of self-absorption and autonomy are distinctly self-conscious but also collaborative. In partnership with the painter, the models curate themselves with great deliberation. Released from any context, apart from the artist's studio, they are free to invent and re-invent a persona which best suits them. J Louis's silhouettes capture the moment when a character appears. The painter puts it on display and preserves it in an anointment of richly-seductive paint.