Steve Lopes

In ‘Impossible Find’, Steve Lopes constructs a world of transitory figures, travellers and storytellers searching for the unknown. Drawing from his extensive travels – which include visiting the former battlefields of the Western Front in France and Belgium in 2017 with 10 other well-known Australian artists – Lopes situates imagined personas within ambiguous landscapes, (dis)placed at points of encounter and transition.

Visualising the conventional trope of the lone traveller, Lopes’ painterly protagonists move silently through rural landscapes and city streets, unencumbered and undefined by borders. Many of the figures are depicted from behind, positioning the viewer as voyeur. We watch on as these anonymous people step into worlds beyond the restraints of modern institutions. In the show’s title piece, a strange streetscape rendered with multiple perspectives echoes the gestural subjectivity of German Expressionism. Two figures turn away from view, disappearing into the depths of their own thoughts, while flames flicker from metal drums and the twilight sun splutters its last light, illuminating a cacophony of tiled surfaces. This is an image of isolation in a liminal world forgotten by society; yet it also speaks of a new reality – a clean slate – pivoted on the hopes of those who dare to dream.

Buttressing these narratives of transitory existence is the fluid movement of Lopes’ brushstrokes and rusty palette of umbers and oaks, conjuring distant yet nostalgic landscapes that shift in time and place. In this transient realm dwells the elusive promise of emancipation from the restraints of the everyday, underpinned by questions of what the future holds for these solo wanderers – could these places be what they are they looking for? Or is it an impossible find?

The exhibition ultimately presents a timeless narrative of people at a threshold, boldly carving out a space in new worlds – in their own terms.

Steve Lopes | Impossible Find
10 July – 4 August 2018
Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney


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