Ray Povey’s paintings fall roughly into two distinct phases that are nevertheless linked by a sustained engagement with issues of representation, appropriation and the language of painting and its indebtedness to modernism. He has persistently pursued these issues through an exploration of the relationship between the language of film, its tropes, its framing devices including serialization and the formal vocabulary of late modernism.
The content of his work is often drawn from the cannon of Film Noir and example being The Maltese Falcon, and while the paintings deal with the ‘time image’ as articulated by Giles Delueze they also raise the question of social roles and representation as they relate to issues of ethnicity and gender.
More recently the focus of his current work, at first glance, suggested that Povey’s interest is now moving towards the formal and the abstract, but on closer inspection a similar enquiry into the function of representation makes itself apparent. These ‘formal’ paintings reveal themselves to be a play on the tropes and conventions derived from abstraction and rely heavily on the use of the painterly language of modernism.
His approach however bears no resemblance to the cynical and opportunistic appropriation of postmodernism, but stands in line with the age long practice of appropriation as homage and celebration. It gives rise to paintings that are increasingly joyous, free from cant and continue what Habermas sees as the unfinished business of modernity.
– Ian Rennie Roberstson.