Malcolm Liepke : Studies in Emotion

28 July - 21 August 2016

Malcolm Liepke was born in 1953 and raised in Minneapolis.


Liepke is a painter primarily of women, especially of a certain kind, who appear to be glamorous inhabitants of the film, stage and fashion world. Versed in the art of performance and self-projection, they are used to being looked at and return the viewers’ gaze sometimes provocatively, with insolence or innocently. We see them artfully posed, complicit in their arrangement, acting out a role.

Liepke demonstrates a bravura handling of oil paint, its rich consistency describing creamy tones of pink and pale skin. The expressive looseness of the handling articulates the flesh and demands our attention. Wilder, spikier handling describes the texture of hair and fur. This contrast between surfaces highlights the tactile excitement and variety of the subject.


He uses colour skilfully, with a palette reminiscent of’ fin- de-siècle’ French painting, strategically deploying electric hues of orange, blue, lilac and pink against the delicate skin tones of the models. This adds another level of sensory excitement.


Liepke’s fluent and accomplished mastery of his chosen medium is the product of long and well informed study. There are references to, and echoes of, Sargent, Whistler, Degas, and Lautrec in his compositions, lighting, the models’ poses and, particularly, in the swagger and pace of his handling. These historical allusions suggest some correspondence between their subjects and his, and that these characters inhabit something of a contemporary ‘demi-monde’, some modern-day version of the ‘Moulin Rouge’ or the ‘Bar at the Folies-Bergères’.


His choice of subject and the painterly treatment he applies to it combine to hint at a possible erotic drama. It is a study of a particular mode of feminine attraction and a frank appreciation of it.