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Mike Bartlett’s paintings are alluring, richly coloured concoctions that bring to mind the wild colour experiments of the Fauvists. But unlike this 19th century movement, Bartlett’s subjects are not idyllic French landscapes or exotic looking women. Instead he focuses on the very art of looking with many works featuring art gallery visitors viewing art or turning around to pose for the artist as he captures them standing in front of the very artworks they have been looking at. This redirection of the gaze – the gallery viewer is now looking at us, and we as the viewer of the painting are now looking at the gallery visitor as well as the artwork they have been looking at – creates a complex double layer of looking
His starting point is to use the reference materials he has collected through his visits to Art galleries and Art previews, Colour and composition play an important part in his works and also the interaction between the Viewer and the Viewed. He likes to paint directly onto the surface sometimes making stencils from images to paint and position shapes. He tends to work in series and these include the Gallery Paintings, Doubles, Twins, Artscapes, which can be seen on his web site.