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Plus One Plus Two Galleries


September 15th – October 9th

Exactitude II is the second part of Plus One Plus Two Galleries’ exhibition of top-flight Photorealist artists. Exactitude I, in spring last year, was a massive success, critically and commercially.

Again this year the work of the artists on show is significant. It is all meticulously considered in the making. And in the viewing it rewards equal attention.


Plus One Plus Two Galleries is London’s premier Realist and Photorealist gallery with a programme of exhibitions that includes the works of British and International artists. Plus One Plus Two Galleries is located at 161-163 Seymour Place, London, W1.

• Exactitude II brings together some of the most renowned photorealist artists practicing both in the UK and abroad: John Salt, Gus Heinze, Andrew Holmes and David Ligare.

• Exactitude II also showcases the work of younger and established artists who are exhibiting in London for the first time: David Finnigan, Cesar Santander and Steve Smulka.

The Artists

John Salt – arguably the greatest living British photorealist, he concentrates much of his intense effort on Americana, especially its sadder, decaying side, a mobile home, an abandoned garage, a café on a corner, all in a soft focus which was always there…

Salt paints with an airbrush. He chooses his photo and makes an accurate drawing before dividing it by shades, tones and hues, cutting a matrix of stencils and then applying the layers of airbrushed paint. The effect means there are no brushstrokes, nothing of the artist (or so it seems). Even where freehand is required, he leaves no mark.

He has exhibited widely and his work is included in collections at Tate Britain, The Smithsonian, Yale, Cornell and The Scottish National – to name just some.

Gus Heinze – perhaps best known for trains and their components, urban scenes and landscapes, especially those with water, flowing streams, light reflective areas, alive and real. Like all photorealists the task he sets himself is to emulate photography, but he does this sensuously, working only from a photograph where everything, light and shade, fell in harmony. Heinze was born in Bremen, Germany, but now lives in the USA.

Heinze says:

“It is quite evident that in most of my paintings the suggestion and visual appearance discern an abstract intent. The cropping of the subject enforces a tight composition, the subject thus becomes ambiguous. The finished painting will consciously remain objective, eliminating subjective qualities such as identifiable techniques and any suggestions to the narrative.

Besides my desire for the direction of the abstract, I am quite fascinated with what nature and the elements do to the objects I choose to paint: how the sun over time can change a paint colour and the various colours of rust. If I imagined or made up these inadvertencies in nature, I think it would be subjective, something of me would then remove mostly the image of my painting from an abstract awareness.

For example, my painting Red Machine is what appears to be just composition, colour and shapes, thereby identifying the abstract element. Then the obvious representational elements in the painting would certainly denote along with the abstract, realism. So there we have it, a total oxymoron, abstract-realism.”

Andrew Holmes – another previous Plus One Plus Two Galleries exhibitor, works mostly in pencil and through works like ‘One’ and ‘Merced City’ demonstrates his own truths about LA, a city of trucks, monster trucks, garage forecourts... The detail is intense, especially on the seemingly flat unbroken areas of colour, the side of a tanker, a tarmac highway.

Holmes trained as an architect and worked with Rogers but for 30 years now he has been drawing the trucks, trailers, tanks and highways of the American West in a series of 100 identically sized drawings. The process of drawing is the process of investing a photographic trace of the fragment with the sense of the sublime, ungraspable whole. The investment is effected through the small decisions over emphasis, contrast, and simplification taken through time. The self -denying discipline involved yields a palpable tension in the works, particularly in the achingly sustained areas of unbroken colour.

Cesar Santander – an internationally admired Canadian painter who like John Salt uses an airbrush, Cesar demonstrates the richness and toughness of a consumer society, its cartoon characters, its toy robots, and in this exhibition its colourful donuts and an old, bashed, scratched and maybe even lost red tobacco tin.

Santander says:

"I conceive an idea for a painting. I then arrange the objects and use the camera to produce the strongest photographic example of my original idea. Then I paint the photographic image. Superficially, I appear to copy the photograph, but I make many adjustments to the photographic image as I complete the painting. I try to impose my own vision by subtle adjustment of colours, edges and details so that the finished painting is the strongest representation of the original idea."

Steve Smulka – a Ukranian American, Smulka’s trademark is his glass jars, bottles and objects, seen in perfect natural light and painted using oils on canvas or linen. They are exactly recreated, unchanged, but they become magical, the light perfectly reflected and perfectly seen. Unlike some of the others Smulka though allows something of the artist to remain in the painting, something of his painterliness and skill.

Smulka chose to concentrate his efforts on capturing the elusive quality of natural light that has always fascinated him. He follows the tradition of genre painting but gives his painting a contemporary edge by painting the objects larger than life. His hyper-realistic vision of glass pulsates with life and turns opaque paint into translucent, glowing light. In his paintings a brilliant beam of illumination probes to focus on the elements of his dramatic compositions. His cast shadows propel these compositions into the actual world of the viewer. These deep pools of shimmering colour allow him to express himself with light. He was awarded a grant from the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

David Ligare – a Californian artist who brings a love of classicism to the world of photorealism. He often chooses artificial set ups that belie the suggestion of realism. But they are real, although so perfect that they sometimes seem more than real, his technical bravura making some objects seem unearthly and totally irresistible.

There are few other American painters whose involvement with the classics is as knowing as his. He reads Homer, Ovid, Virgil and Petrarch and he paints the figures and landscapes of Greece, Rome and the Italian Renaissance – with something of California’s Monterey County (Ligare’s home) almost always present.

Ligare’s work can be seen in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Wadsworth Athaneum Collection in Hartford Connecticut and even The Uffizii, Florence.

David Finnigan – lives in Scarborough in Yorkshire. His first London show was Exactitude and his reputation has grown massively since then. Through sheer concentration, effort and will his work is incredibly vivid. His paintings include street scenes with people, cafes, tables and often the condiments found there, all impeccably rendered, often melancholy, always captivating.

Finnigan says:

"In a world bombarded with imagery, reality sometimes can become abstracted and we may lose the distinction. I search for a scene rich in a mixture of tranquil urbanity and controlled vitality, so that I might try to reflect back a considered proposition to a sometimes sated viewer."

The Photorealistic images in this exhibition are of course exact, perfectly realised. But unlike contemporary realists, there is sometimes a meaning in the choice of photograph, the name given to it perhaps. The objects painted are mostly everyday ones, but they often become charismatic, dramatic even.

Photorealism has famously looked to American life. In this exhibition international artists adhere to that tradition but look beyond it too.


Plus One Plus Two Galleries is located at 161/163 Seymour Place, London, W1H 4JP, telephone, 020 7724 7304.

The galleries are open Monday to Friday, 10.30am till 6.30pm and Saturday from 11.00am to 3.00pm.



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