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24 September 2014

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The agony and the ecstasy:
Work by Stefan Dunlop
"There is a consensus in the art world that painting is back as a valid form of expression," says Stefan Dunlop. Seen above is his 'Old Master Lesson Reversed 1'
spacer London's art scene is a closed club. How does an artist new to this world find recognition - and an audience? Stefan Dunlop's diary reveals how his first show in the capital came into being...


dot Born in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1972 and remained there until the age of 18

dot First full time artistic study took place at the Studio School in New York in 2001. Moved to London and studied briefly at the Slade School in London

dot Has exhibited in Australia. After the current 'Compression' show at the Ensign Space, two further exhibitions are planned for later in the year back in Australia at House of Phillips Fine Art and Goya Galleries


The Ensign Space in east London is the brainchild of British artist Rebecca Taber

"Freedom of expression" is her main credo and her new space is dedicated to letting creative people experiment "allowing their work to breathe...and to show that the best things only happen out of unrestricted creativity and passion."

'Compression' features new paintings by Jason Szalla and Stefan Dunlop, both of whom are new to the London art scene

Their exhibition ran from 24 - 30 April, at the Ensign Space, 18 Ensign Street, London E1


More of London's visual arts scene in our Galleries section


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Day 1

Each day starts at 8am. Painting is work and doesn't follow the same timetables as the outside world.

The whole process is really a matter of the canvas being a convincing place to make something happen. A painter is always waiting for that magical moment when the image reveals itself. Sometimes resolution will come in a few hours, at other times slowly, piece by piece over months. Often there is no resolution at all.

By around 6pm the after-hours organisational and promotional work begins. This, typically, involves writing masses of emails. I'm showing my work at a new gallery in London, the Ensign Space, with New Yorker Jason Szalla, the other half of the show.

There are three canvases still to be completed by April 24. This is the core issue and all that really matters to me - in spite of all the organisational requirements leading up to the show.

Day 2

Work by Stefan Dunlop
'Who's Afraid of Space in a Box'/ 50 x 50 inches by Stefan Dunlop

A trip to Paris to see De Stael at the Pompidou Centre, surely the world's greatest repository of modern art. There are so many wonderful paintings here: Gerhard Richter, Eric Fischl, De Kooning. To be half decent one has to compare oneself to the best - who is the man to beat?

That's what painting is about, aspiring to paint with the best, "getting in the ring with the great painters of the past" - and not allowing ego to fool you into thinking you've made it. The goal always moves with great painters, and it's important to move with them.

With this in mind, I try to find a slide reproduction of Napoleon crossing the St Bernard by Jacques-Louis David to use as a projection installation piece at the show. Not a simple task when you don't speak French.

Stefan Dunlop's diary continues in Part 2 let's go

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