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The works on paper May FPS show at Espacio Gallery was not only excellently curated- FPS has gone from strength to strength in recent years and has now reached a very high standard in its ability to put on mixed shows - but the exhibition also showed how this art society has returned to its original mission to exhibit truly contemporary art. Despite this I did feel the lack of muted colours and believe that some more subtlety executed works could have been exhibited. Perhaps this was due to the decision to eliminate the presence of oil on canvas so that much of the drawings, prints, collages and graphic representations were so strong in both colour and line that the viewer might have been forgiven for sometimes feeling a little overwhelmed. Equally, as a returning exhibitor to the society- having passed a few fallow years redeveloping my style, I felt just as new comers are apt to feel... a little on the edge of things wondering if I still belonged and where FPS would be headed for next. Of course I was familiar with many artists past and present within the society and those that deserve a mention here are those whose work was represented in the Summer Show: Vivien Lodge; Pete Murry and Bruni Schling in particular. These artists’ highly individual styles brought depth and plurality to the exhibition. It was the artists whose work I was less familiar with that really caught my eye and made the exhibition both compelling and thought provoking. Ultimately they left me ruminating on the flavour of this highly contemporary show, set in the heart of the East End. Piky’s work stood out most for its edgy post modernism: the white trainer on the street; the use of bold text and ripped paper -poster like as it becomes part of the work itself; so reminiscent of the adverts we see by the roadside, yet seemingly over-layered with a graffiti artist’s inspiration. Next to it the works entitled ‘Check series- red and white’ by Gabriel Parfitt beckoned for attention, as they highlighted for me the cruelty of isolation, ironically offset by a gaiety of bright reds and empty white spaces. The man in the maze, featuring again and again in Gabriel Parfitt’s work, seemed caught in his city identity and ultimately trapped; and one wondered if his fate in this urban reality of ours would leave him forever alienated and alone. Opposite these pictures were a collection of graphic works in which draftsmanship was at the pure essence of the work. In particular the guest artist Lizzie Mary Cullen and Tom Hammick’s work left me marvelling at the inventiveness and imagination present in figurative and cityscape drawings. And as people’s voices rose and fell-and glasses clinked- congratulations or questions-or all the latest gossip exchanged- (as so often happens at private views) I slipped downstairs and marvelled at the sheer plurality of the work in this show. But it being quite difficult to comment on every artist, I have not even tried! What I would say however is that the show pulsated with life- and any return to safe conservatism seemed refreshingly and even reassuringly highly unlikely.... Penelope MacEwen

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