Saints and Sinners. The many faces of Gavin Nolan.

Nolan dredges up references mixing actual with fable, celebrity with intimacy to make complex portraits of a disturbing nature. Nolan's skill in this work is to bring together the history of portraiture in to one single painting. The twisting and morphing cubism meets surrealist, Velasquez meets Bacon meets Nolan. With disturbing qualities of recognition, the complexity and layering in the portraits belie an arresting monumentality.

The knowingness in Gavin Nolan's portrait paintings hit you in your guts as the piercing eyes penetrate right through you. There is no escaping the intensity and articulation of these paintings. In Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray as Dorian yields to temptations, it is the painting which carries the scars, becoming the true reflection of the man. Dorian Gray's good looks stay intact as he descends in to depravity, the portrait though never lies as his real character is given away.

There is a familiarity in Gavin Nolan’s portraits, composites of the good and the evil in our lives, Jesus, Bin Laden, Lauren Bacall, the famous and infamous from the depths of history to the bloody now. You kind of feel it but can't quite place it, the recognition is illusory. The portraits are real.

Jamie Robinson. 2006