Vitalistic Fantasies, a Contemporary British Painting exhibition that coincides with the 2020 BEEP Painting Biennial. Launched in 2012 the Beep (Biennial Exhibition of Painting) is a contemporary painting prize that brings together artists from all over the world. This year Beep returns with an expanded programme of satellite painting led exhibitions and symposiums around the main prize show in partnership with Swansea and Cardiff galleries.

Venue: College Street Gallery, 16 College Street, Swansea SA1 5BH, Wales
Opening: Saturday 3 October 2020, 3pm – late.*
Exhibition dates: 3rd October – 31 October 2020

Artists: Iain Andrews, Amanda Ansell, Karl Bielik, Day Bowman, Julian Brown, Deb Covell, Lucy Cox, Gordon Dalton, Pen Dalton, Natalie Dowse, Fiona Eastwood, Geraint Evans, Susan Gunn, Suzanne Holtom, Barbara Howey, Phil Illingworth, Bryan Lavelle, Paula MacArthur, Enzo Marra, Nicholas Middleton, Stephen Newton, Joe Packer, Stephen Palmer, Ruth Philo, Narbi Price, Freya Purdue, James Quin, Molly Thomson, Judith Tucker,  Joanna Whittle and Sean Williams.

Curated by Paula MacArthur.

The title of this exhibition is taken from the introduction of Isabelle Graw’s 2018 book, The Love of Painting in which she argues that aliveness of paintings is created not only through the specific ways in which painters personalise their paintings by the traces of activity on the resulting work, but also through the projections of the viewer onto the painting.

She writes: “One key reason I call these fantasies “vitalistic” is because they imaginatively assume qualities of living beings such as subjectivity, liveliness, and animation for dead material. In a vitalistic fantasy, human attributes – like self-command, will, and energy – are projected onto lifeless material”.

The resulting record of the painter’s activity, however energetic or quiet, is suggestive of the artist themselves, the viewer is compelled to project an imagined personality onto the work.

When describing their working process painters often talk about paintings ‘painting themselves’ or ‘leading the way’ in the same way that novelists describe their characters as writing their own narrative. As a work develops its personality evolves and the painter intuitively follows.

Members of Contemporary British Painting come together at the College Street Gallery in Swansea as part of the Beep Painting Biennial in an attempt to bring a visual conversation to Graw’s ideas and consider how her argument resonates within their own individual practices.

These painters present us with images onto which we project ourselves, they are storytellers, colourists, mark makers, fantasists and so are we.

A catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an essay by Dr. Catrin Webster.

*NB: The first segment of the opening event, 12pm – 3pm, will available only to Vitalistic Fantasies exhibitors. The exhibition is open to the public thereafter from 3pm to late. All visitors are required to wear face coverings inside the gallery, apart from those who are exempt. Current social distancing measures and guidelines will be strictly adhered to based on the latest advice.