Modern and contemporary British painting


'Consulting the Oracle' (2013), Caroline Walker (Detail). © Caroline Walker

10 July - 29 November 2015

Free entry

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This vibrant exhibition brings together over 50 works celebrating the strength of British painting, with some of the best and most influential artists of the last 60 years.

Major 20th-century artists, such as Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and LS Lowry, are shown alongside contemporary painters including John Keane, Ken Currie, Paula Rego and George Shaw.

Uncompromising and direct, the work of each artist represented retains a strong reference to the real world, ‘the stuff of life’. The artists tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues.

Despite these different references, the works are all united by two things: the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades, and the simple act of painting.

This exhibition has a special connection to the Walker Art Gallery, home to the John Moores, the UK’s biggest painting prize. Many of the names in the exhibition are connected to the prize as past exhibitors and/or judges. 

Exhibition curated by artist Chris Stevens. Organised by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Image gallery

'Girl with Beret' (1951-52), Lucian Freud, Manchester Art Gallery, UK © The Lucian Freud Archive Bridgeman Images 'Tree' (2013), David Hepher (Detail). © David Hepher, courtesy of Flowers Gallery, London and New York. 'Spam Dragon' (2013), Alan Macdonald © Alan Macdonald. 'The Street' (1980), Jock McFadyen © Jock McFadyen. 'Snare' (1987), Paula Rego © Paula Rego, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art. 'Scenes from the Passion - The Path on the Edge' (1997), George Shaw © Royal College of Art.



Artist blogs

Victorian houses with a shopping mall sign

Graham Crowley: “…a mix of cubist syntax and a raw, punk aesthetic”

5 November

It’s the final few days of the John Moores Painting Prize call for entries and the last weeks of the REALITY exhibition – so who better to interview than an artist strongly connected to both; Graham Crowley. Read more about Graham Crowley: “…a mix of cubist syntax and a raw, punk aesthetic”

Caroline Walker (artist) standing in front of 'Consulting the Oracle' painting

Exploring artistic process and practice

23 October

We recently spoke to artist Caroline Walker whose paintings ‘Consulting the Oracle’ (2013) and ‘Illuminations’ (2012) are currently on display as part of REALITY: Modern and Contemporary British Painting. Read more about Exploring artistic process and practice