Tableaux II: Paintings as Stage

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Tableaux II: Paintings as Stage features thirteen artists who work in a figurative mode and utilise a stage-like space or tableau. They construct the pictorial space of a theatre with a central stage and feature spatial plains that are parallel to the surface of the canvas. These plains echo the space in which the viewer stands and presents a parallel world where the characters portrayed appear absorbed in their own drama.

The tableaux is a device used throughout the history of paintings as a form of display, often bearing the look of a constructed theatrical arrangement; an artificial space, but one which evokes the idea of a reflected world, where the audience is implicated or even has a role to play.

Manet’s paintings A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is a wonderful example of all of this at play, as the make customer who is shown approaching the bar is reflected in the mirror behind the barmaid, who stares blankly at the viewer. We partially assume the role of the customer as we approach the painting surface and as the Courtauld website explains:

“Manet has shifted the reflection to the right. The bottles on the left are similarly misaligned in the mirror. This play of reflections emphasises the disorienting atmosphere of the bustling Folies-Bergère. In A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Manet created a complex, absorbing composition and one of the iconic paintings of modern life.”

Each painter uses the convention of the tableau as an entry point for their own thoughtful reflections on the political, the personal, the imaginary, or the philosophical mythopoeic residue of lived experience.

About Vestry St - Cross Lane Projects

In 2022, Cross Lane Projects opened the doors of its new gallery space in Vestry St, in Hoxton, London.

Visitors are invited into this uniquely intimate space to read, reflect, discuss and view contemporary art in a salon-like setting of a second floor warehouse apartment in the heart of Shoreditch.

Located in a private residence on the road that bears its name, Vestry St presents a programme of curated exhibitions, talks, and events by leading contemporary artists, both local and international.