Amber Wallis: Summoned Paintings at @NicholasThompsonGallery until July 26 in line with COVID protocols now online.

I had to go a long way around to get into this exhibition. I resisted the confidence of the artists reflected gaze. The assured sexuality & variety is refreshing but I was reading these paintings against an expectation of biographic notes & I was wrong to do so.

The nude sits absurdly in Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”, introspectively in the bath with Bonnard, violently thrusting with Titian, politicised conjoining with Michael Armitage, sweetly diaristic with Louis Fratino or Salman Toor, powerful like Tamara de Lemika’s women or the unphased & abundant like those of Lisa Yuskavage: we see not acts as noted in the titles of these paintings by Amber Wallis but positionings, not postures.

That’s the breakthrough in these aqueous layered abstractions, littered with flirtations through daub & scumble. I was fooled by the suggestion of potential figuration but instead we have been shown a space where the action in the painting is either portent & past (or indeed post coital). These are not scenes; they are notes on sensations & projections: not totally carnal but leading to a self-knowing. The confidence demonstrated in these paintings lays here.

The scale of the paintings allows further immersion reinforced but the enclosing volume in the gallery & paced installation. My wish is the exhibition duration was longer, so as to revisit this work after savouring their layering, textures & gestures.

The long way around was further extended by a set of accompanying texts by artists and writers each devoted to a work in the show. These literary shadows provide insights & misdirection that insist that you front up to each work entering them after shedding your preconceptions. – DH