Malcolm Liepke: Dream of Me

10 May - 1 June 2019

Liepke’s mise-en-scène captures figures in poses of studied indifference. His subjects are absorbed in self-communing reverie. Some are conscious of their appeal, looking out, making an assessment of the viewer. Young, beautiful bodies are casually displayed and artfully revealed for the arena of public consumption, where the glimpse and the accidental glance are the convention for study of the object of desire. This is a theatre of characters, apparently nonchalant, that are strategic in their desire for attention.


The artist handles oil paint with risky assurance. It goes on thick and creamy, dashingly applied to describe contour, outline and silhouette. At times it is loose and liquid, at others, clotted and sticky and often thickly impastoed. The painting film is redolent of the materiality of skin, muscle and bone. Rich passages describe eyes and lips with limpid, succulent fluency, passages of pearly flesh-tones articulate the smoothly-contrasting muscularities of male and female bodies.


Liepke’s palette is rich and saturated. He works sumptuous colour in a bold manner, using strong hues, vivid contrasts and pulsating complementaries. He often employs ‘fin-de-sieclé’, acidic tints of chartreuse, mauve and fuchsia. Subtle greys, shading to green or blue, describe florescent-lit skin, evoking the late-night atmosphere of club or bar.


These paintings are lushly-crafted devices, which capture moments of youthful splendour and potential. They mine a seam of nostalgia: our own memories of fleeting moments of attraction. Liepke’s models gaze out of the picture, in a state of ‘gorgeous detachment’, as if to ask, or challenge: “What do you make of me?”