Malcolm Liepke: Sideways Glance (Selected Works, 2015 - 2021)

2 April - 16 May 2021




Acclaimed American painter Malcolm Liepke continues his exuberant enquiry into figuration. These are all fine examples of what is typical of his best work. His brushwork is fluently flamboyant, the colour richly sumptuous and compositions, dynamic.


Liepke's subject is the human figure. In particular, he favours the young and the beautiful. His models pose in ways that are both provocative and knowing, artfully mining the popular vocabulary of the pin-up and the advertisement. They reference a post-modern cascade of archetypes, filtered through fifty years of commercial image-making. His subjects project an air of look-at-me disdain, challenging the gaze of the viewer. They appear cut-off but simultaneously desire our, and the painter's, careful attention.


He describes the body with a frank and appreciative eye. Flesh is offered up for our appraisal. He is a master of the expression of skin-tone. Creamy optical greys slide into pinks, light ochres, off-whites and green-tinged umbers. Sooty blue-black shadows coalesce to frame and define the smooth contours of limbs, heads and torsos. These forms are played off against vibrant, acidic tangerines, violets and emerald greens. His pictures have a jewel-like intensity, which complements the apparent ease of their skilful execution.


The pieces are mostly portraits, some are scenarios - vignettes of small incident, but they are all intriguing in their hints at interrupted narrative. We ask ourselves: "Who are they? What were they doing? What happens next?" Liepke titillates and deploys humour. We know the models are playing a part, so does Liepke and so do they. This is something of a conspiracy between all participants. At the heart of such a conspiracy is some wonderful oil painting.