'New Artists, New Work': show at Hespe Gallery

'New Artists, New Work': show at Hespe Gallery

Stephanie Wright Hession

San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 2010


When Nicholas Middleton chooses subjects for his paintings, they're derived from scenes he initially photographs.


In London, Copenhagen, Berlin and other cities, he happens across a location that appeals to him for its historical, compositional or other elements. Sometimes he'll select a site with an objective in mind. Whether the process is organic or intentional, the paintings that come later transpire in urban settings, possess a photorealistic quality, contain a palette echoing Middleton's preference for black-and-white film and sometimes play with fictionalized narratives.


"There are a number of different aspects of the urban environment I am interested in, but one important aspect is the way history is written on the spaces that surround us," Middleton says. "This may be as simple as the juxtapositions of different architectural styles in a single street, or the way industries or historical events leave traces on the landscape."


A native of London, where he still resides, Middleton makes his U.S. debut in the exhibition "New Artists, New Work" at the Hespe Gallery. A group show introducing emerging artists and fresh works by established artists, it features paintings by photorealist Mark Goings, figurative painter Ross Bowns, portrait and still-life painter Anelecia Hannah and photography by Winni Wintermeyer.


"I wanted to focus on the artists that I thought are going to be the most important to look at in the coming year," says Marissa Gianno, of the Hespe Gallery. "For instance, Mark Goings - he's been around for a while and he's very well known, but his work is going to soon take an abrupt left and we just wanted people to be aware of what he's doing and where he's going. This is a way to do that.


"These artists' work really spoke to me. They're all very different from one another, but they're equally appealing. There's a surprising cohesion about them and I think they are all representative of their ideology - their work all comes from a very strong place."


The gallery is also experimenting.


"We are expanding our horizons a little bit. We're a representational painters' gallery, but we're trying out different media," Gianno says. "We decided (Wintermeyer) works very well with the artists in the exhibit. The way he frames his images, it's almost as if they're staged, like they're dioramas and a set-up scene. It's just the lighting that he captures; he goes out into the city and waits for the right moment. It gives his work a very film noir, ethereal look. It's very painterly."


Opens today (reception 5:30 p.m. Jan. 6). Through Jan. 29. 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri. (open until 7:30 tonight), 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. Hespe Gallery, 251 Post St., Suite 420. (415) 776-5918.www.hespe.com.


- Stephanie Wright Hession, 96hours@sfchronicle.com