Torch Gallery is pleased to present a selection of new paintings by artists’ duo Alice Stepanek (1954, Berlin) and Steven Maslin (1959, London).
In the early 1980s, Stepanek and Maslin met while both still studying at the Saint Martin’s School of Art in London. This encounter gave way to a lasting collaboration that up to this day accounts for a personal assessment of what it means to be in the world –understood as a transcendental experience. Their large canvases display telescopic views of fantastic landscapes rendered with wealth of details and exquisite facture. Composed out of a selection of separate elements, each of Stepanek & Maslin’s paintings expands in bright colours and powerful contrasts. Each of them is like a clear cut crystal that seems to simultaneously absorb and project the light from its centre. While it is the viewer’s mind that becomes the playground for such a movement, Stepanek & Maslin’s paintings crystallise different visual references and therefore engage the viewer with different thinking processes. They seem, for instance, to be monumental herbariums in which flowers and tiles have been pressed between the respective bellies of earths, skies and clouds. They might also be fish-eye views taken from insect-like perspectives. They glimpse at the immensity of the universe, yet they are suffused with tender respect for everything that is small and fragile. Stepanek & Maslin’s artistic mastery merges the macro- and the micro- cosmos into a peaceful whole at human scale. Though absent from its visual vocabulary, it is this human being that stands at the core of their work, for the intuition of the sublime residing in all things is the appendage of the ethic being. Casting finely painted details on large monochrome surfaces, cropping the distances between its constitutive elements and framing the whole as wide-angle views, Stepanek & Maslin’s visual language constitutes imaginary vistas in which all elements cover equal importance. These speak of a utopian place where the tensions between culture and nature, society and the individual, resolve in a sense of total harmony. Each of Stepanek & Maslin’s paintings is a ticket to heaven, a place where the gravity of earthly matters vanishes and where we finally can cut the most precious flowers of life –that hover in the sun, forever.
Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2006