ReconFigure Paintings

A series of works featuring geometric shapes and figures painted on top of historical figurative paintings.

ReconFigure Paintings is an ongoing series of work by Andrew Bracey that features parasitic, painted additions to the ‘host’ humans that exist within historical figurative paintings. Bracey primarily works on reproductions of oil paintings, each varying in style, period and type of figuration - that have been worked over with geometric/crystalline paintwork. The triangle is used as the simplest shape that can create a complex structure. The eye alternates between his contemporary addition and the background of the original, something that is usually sidelined by the dominant figure. Despite a consistency of rules adopted when painting, each work takes on its own unique character and alter the viewers perception of the original source.

One group of the paintings on display here have all been selected from reproductions from the book, Victorian Figurative Painting: Domestic Life and the Contemporary Social Scene. In a recent departure from using reproductions as a base Bracey was recently commissioned to create new paintings on top of works from the Madsen Collection, bequeathed to York Art Gallery. This has created new questions for the artists in terms of the original and the reproduced in connection to how we value cultural artifacts. The artists explains:

“The unique aspect of being able to work directly with the actual original paintings from the Madsen collection excited me. The paintings I was allowed to work on have the human value by being collected and treasured by the Madsen siblings, but were also not deemed of enough financial or cultural worth to be put into York Art Gallery’s collection or sold at auction. I see the act of my painting over part of the original paintings as opening up a question over how we value something; in some ways I am destroying the original object and in other ways I am rejuvenating it or saving it from being sold off to obscurity or worse, destroyed.”

The artist’s intention is to strip the subject of the work back to painting itself; by appropriating masterpieces and some lesser-known from the medium’s past in order to create new works, he is simultaneously challenging, applauding and being daunted by them. The size of each original ReconFigure Painting correlates with different forms of reproductions sourced from gallery shops such as postcards, prints and pages from catalogues. Within his work Bracey questions the role of the original, the reproduction (in print, online or in a catalogue for example) and exhibition display. These concerns are also explored and expanded upon in the group exhibition, (detail) in the gallery next door.

Andrew Bracey (b.1978) is based in Waddington, England. He studied fine art at Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan Universities. Solo exhibitions include Nottingham Castle (2014), Manchester Art Gallery (2009), Transition Gallery, London (2007), Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2007) and firstsite, Colchester (2006). Recent group exhibitions include Finding The Value (2014), York St. Mary’s, A Machine Aesthetic (2013/4) at Gallery North, Newcastle and touring; The Ends of Art (2013), Beton7, Athens; Possession (I) (2013), BACC, Bangkok; Tip of the Iceberg (2013) at Contemporary Art Society, London and A Private Affair (2012) at Harris Museum and Gallery, Preston. He has undertaken residencies at Standpoint Gallery, London, Burlington Club, Manchester and Cable Factory, Helsinki. Curated exhibitions include (detail) (2014) at H-Project Space, Bangkok, Transition Gallery, London and Usher Gallery, Lincoln; Misdirect Movies (2013), Royal Standard, Liverpool, and touring; Crocodiles With a Second Skin Thrash (2011) Over+Out, Lincoln and Unspooling: Artists & Cinema (2010), Cornerhouse, Manchester. He is Programme Leader of MA Fine Art and MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice at The University of Lincoln.