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Deranged, unserious and proudly grotesque. In Lucy Stein’s paintings everything blends together into an atmosphere that feels like a rotten psychedelic experience. Spontaneous forms of an instant mythology, find their place on a surface that is filled with caustic and sly conceptualism, giving birth to a lovesick and seemingly pretty representation of a strong, contemporary and feminist imagery. 

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Born in 1979, in Oxford, Lucy Stein has grown to be a vivid and atypical picturesque persona, with a style that fully embodies the admixture of styles and aesthetics to which the contemporary artistic scene is subject. Obsessive, compulsive and disorienting, while at the same time referential, meditative and socially engaged; a psychedelic and seemingly grotesque experience, which at its early stages, aimed to bring the viewer in front of what by all means appeared to be an activist and provocative emancipation of the definition of “feminine”, and what it means to be “feminist”. Growing its expressiveness throughout the years, Stein’s work shifted towards a more transversal approach to symbolism, and consequently engaged itself to a more playful and unserious setting, in which the artist could allow herself to bring her work to a neurotic stage, constantly saturating colour tones and enhancing her psychiatric and double edged derivations of the human body and soul. 



Form left to right: Lucy Stein, Black Milk , 2015. Oil on board; Lucy Stein, May the Road, 2014. Oil on canvas.

“I always want my work to look as if it’s on the brink of hysteria”, Lucy Stein once admitted, while discussing her attraction towards the more psychological and psychiatric side of the human existence. A statement that allows us to understand the artist allure of certain perverse textures and obsessive tendencies. A painter, Stein, whom decided to “go for ugliness”, as a captivating trick to please her own mind and the stimuli that derive from this particular choice. A dirty and psychedelic experience, the one that Stein presents to the observer, made of caustic reproposals of tired and worn out forms; a constant urge towards a mind-filling moment that is directed towards the feeling of pleasure. It is Lucy Steins choice, not to settle for a single moment of satisfaction, but to aim for what she defines as “multiple orgasms”: a moment of painterly delight which finds its source not only from a variety of different and dialectic elements, but also by the combination of these elements into an all-round ecstatic moment of pleasure. A type of pleasure that is close to the shape-shifting erotic experience that a child might have with the oddest things, explains Stein, while talking about her obligation to call in a Freudian and psychiatricinterpretation to her work; even though, as the artist once again explains, the “good Doktor” would not embed completely with her work, due to his attachment to a more masculine and earnest social conception. Hence the artist’s tendency to research and develop, working on series of p aintings, analizing different social themes and diverging subjects, in order to create a complete and symbolically fulfilling body of work. 



Form left to right: Lucy Stein, Christ Made a Trance, 2012. Oil on canvas; Lucy Stein, Wise Wound 1/30, 2015. Mixed media on canvas.


A unique persona which embodies the mixture of styles and influences that a contemporary painter is subject to. Lucy Stein is an example of mature painterly freedom and technical awareness, constantly embracing the joy and love for the act of expression, as a way to return to childhood behaviour, allowing herself to play and perform different roles in the masquerade of shifting selves that is defined as “painting”. 



Lucy Stein, Bee Cumming at Boscawen’Un, 2016. Oil, oil stick, permanent marker, spray paint on canvas.


Cover image: Lucy Stein, Libido, 2015. Oil on gessoed panel.

Written by Mario Rodolfo Silva

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