A New Show Looks Back on Stephen Buckley’s 50-Year Career of Deconstructing Painting
A new exhibition of the British artist’s work is on view now at Mayor Gallery in London; feature on artnet Gallery Network, January 25, 2019
Stephen Buckley is one of those artists who, despite being in and out of the gallery spotlight, has always been a big influence on other artists’ work.
A lot has happened in the artist’s career in that time. After getting his advanced degree from the University of Reading in 1969, Buckley moved to London and began what would be a very successful period of exhibiting works that lasted through the late ’80s. He showed prominently with Kasmin and Knoedler Galleries in London, Hans Neuendorf Gallery in Germany, and Robert Elkon Gallery in New York, among others, and his work was included in a number of notable collections.
However, by the time the 1990s rolled around, Buckley’s career shifted as he took on a professor position at his alma mater, the University of Reading. “Some artists took teaching as a sort of sideline, and some took it very seriously,” Mayor says. “Stephen was one of those that took teaching incredibly seriously. If you’re getting up and you know you’ve got to teach, your painting psyche is going to be affected because you know you’ve got to teach and be prepared. It can create two worlds for him.”
For nearly 50 years, the British artist has taken the foundation of a painting—a canvas atop stretchers—and deconstructed it. He creates hodgepodge, oblong compositions that breathe life into the medium’s tired reliance on the rectilinear form. “Close Cousins,” his new exhibition at Mayor Gallery in London, shows that his formula is still working.
Hanging on the walls of the gallery are approximately 20 works by Buckley. Many are new, done within the last five or six years, while others date as far back as the 1970s, as in the case of Harlequin. It’s an eclectic group of works, yet it’s hard to imagine any single painting being done by another artist.