Painting is to art as royalty is to democracy; it defensively justifies its own significance while continuing to hold court. There are many reasons why painting continues in this coveted pretense, but perhaps it can be mainly attributed to the limitations of its purpose. Any painter knows that the enchantment of painting lies in its classification. No matter how far the medium is pushed, as long as it can be called a painting it will never not be art. It cannot be mistaken for something utilitarian, like a urinal. In an age where context changes intent, painting remains singular in function—and the result is a lot of group shows on painting.
Painting’s supposed crisis of relevance does not come from the medium itself, but emanates from its practitioners. Painters assume the right to make a piece that can be nothing but an artwork, and the resulting privileged angst could be defined as Painter’s Guilt. The easy way forward is to be unapologetic about it, and this is what Turps Gallery in South East London has done. Birthed from the defunct The Lion and The Lamb Gallery and with the help of the painting magazine Turps Banana, the gallery is the next incarnation of a space devoted exclusively to painting. Tutti Frutti is its inaugural show and brings together a collection of work from fourteen artists. Former Lion & Lamb directors Katrina Blannin, Juan Bolivar, and Caterina Lewis selected the artists and asked each to choose a work to be shown; the only restriction was that it be a painting. In a conversation at the gallery, Ms. Lewis stressed that the show is not curated but organized. As the artists were chosen for what they are stylistically doing in the field, the directors were left to hash out the hang until they were satisfied with the results.