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Gieve Patel’s latest show is a complex study of the human form

Meditations on Old Age 4, oil on board, 24 x 18 in

Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke will host a solo exhibition by Gieve Patel, featuring pieces from his “Meditations on Old Age” series, along with works from his series of well paintings.

Patel's work is unmistakable for his use of colour—saturated with pastels, his paintings often feature a solitary element that deliberately stands out in contrast. We are to consider, when observing his work, the very process of looking, and the nature of perception.

We take, for example, his series of wells paintings—a manifestation of his childhood fascination for what they represented, and what they appeared to contain. Some wells he paints with reference to the surrounding scenery, while others are more of a study on what lives on the surface. He will never paint himself as an observer; even though a reflection is one of the first associations one would have with the act of looking into a well. The audience might consider whether this absence of an observer is what makes one all the more conscious of the act of observation.

Gieve Patel is also—aside from being a notable poet, playwright and artist—a doctor, and this best explains the almost clinical detachment with which he paints the human form. Old age, as a subject, is considered through the textures he paints into his portraits, blending some features together while highlighting others. We are forced to consider—when we see veins bulging out of eyelids or sickly, pale blotches on misshapen human faces—sickness and old age, the human body's tendency towards death. In contrast, however, when we look upon the mastery, the deft deliberation, of the painters craft, we consider how old age might be synonymous with expertise, or evolution.

While it may be benefit a visitor to the exhibition to know of Patel's background and academic knowledge of the human form, even the lay observer will find that Patel's eye is unwaveringly attuned to the nature of the human form and its various functions; despite showcasing it in a light that some may consider to be quite ghastly, he is celebrating it, noting it for what it has the potential to be, and drawing attention to its nature of being. There is a lot to be said for the complexity that is wrapped within these easy, unassuming brushstrokes.

“Footboard Rider” will be on show at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke from January 19th to March 18th, 2017.

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