27 April 2021

Between Grace Pailthorpe and Mary Stephenson: the mysterious logic of dreams in Art Uk by Philomena Epps

The current exhibition at Bosse & Baum in South London, ‘Fertile Spoon‘, pairs Grace Pailthorpe, the Surrealist painter and psychoanalyst, with the contemporary artist Mary Stephenson.

There are eight works by Pailthorpe, a combination of small oil paintings on canvas and watercolour paintings on paper, most of them previously unexhibited. Stephenson, who similarly works with oil paint, has utilised canvas, paper, and linen, working at various scales.

Born over a century apart, both artists subscribe to the mysterious and intuitive logic of dreams, yielding to the power of the subconscious mind. As Chloe Nahum, who curated the exhibition in partnership with the gallery, writes in her accompanying exhibition text, ‘the unconscious rules the roost, and does as it pleases with paint.’

Her phrase echoes a comment made by Pailthorpe in 1938, as part of an article she titled ‘The Scientific Aspect of Surrealism’, that ‘the unconscious is a master in its own form of art … It tells a perfect short story’. This was published in the London Bulletin, an influential avant-garde magazine edited by the English Surrealist artist E. L. T. Messens. Her text, which was derided by the Surrealist community, detailed the experiments she was currently undertaking with the artist Reuben Mednikoff, an unconventional collaboration and life partnership they remained devoted to until her death in 1971.

by Philomena Epps

Read the full article here.