Robert Lang

'Robert Lang's paintings take some unpicking. In them, photographic sources, transcribed in swathes of streaky paint, lose their clarity, like Polaroids de-developing. Figures appear in snatched fragments or at a distance, engaged in ambiguous outdoor activities - digging, camping, starting a fire - ahistorical actions that nonetheless allude to something post-nuclear, something apocalyptic. Thinned-down paint is dabbed on uncertainly, unsure of what it's describing. It bleeds and fades: there's something insubstantial about it. The paintings' supports - linen, oak and canvas - emerge through the paint like the bottom of a river. There's a sense of impending loss, of something slipping out of memory, dissolving. Neurotic photo-based painting is nothing new, but what gives Lang's works their heady charge is his use of rich, bodily colour. Lush purples and greens and turquoises evoke the fade of a sun-blanched photo and give the works their strange romanticism. There's a heat to the paintings that connects them as readily to David Park or even Delacroix as to Tuymans or Richter. In Fumble (2008), a figure bends inside a kite-shaped hole. Paint, applied in cautious little stabs, prescribes its own descriptive limits. It does what it can. In places it has the urgency and awkwardness of finger-painting. Something wants to be said, but can't. Lang's paintings deny themselves complete descriptive facility: they can't find the right words.' Ben Street 2009 read full statement

Location Newport, Wales