There must have been something in the air at the Royal College of Art in the late 1950s: the school produced such 20th century art luminaries as R.B. Kitaj, David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield and Allen Jones; as well as a lesser-known but supremely talented chap called Neil Stokoe.
Working in a bright palette and always with one eye on figurative forms and the other on architecture, Stokoe creates his scenes from a combination of memory, photographs and the everyday imagery. “He relinquishes artistic control over the interpretation of the works, not wishing to explain them, and prefers the paintings to maintain a veil of mystery and ambiguity,” says the Megan Piper Gallery, which is showing a series of his works next month. “The paintings do however allude to a possible narrative and the viewer is invited to explore and tentatively unpick each scene.”
The works on show at the gallery were all created in the last 35 years, and none have been on public display before. As the exhibition title Staircases and Figures suggests, these architectural constructs form a motif throughout the body of work, acting as a metaphor for life’s constant ascents and descents. According to the gallery, staircase imagery in Stokoe’s work was initially inspired by Degas’ The Rehearsal, (c.1874) and Graham Sutherland’s Interior (1965).
The most recent piece to be shown was created in 2016 and is a tribute to Stokoe’s friend Francis Bacon, who he met in the early 1960s.
Neil Stokoe: Staircases and Figures runs from 2 – 24 February 2017 at Megan Piper: 67 Jermyn Street