Stella Vine's


@ the museum of new art

now through October 28



Completed mural never to be wholly revealed:


Famed British artist Stella Vine arrived and painted a large-scale wall mural in Detroit's contemporary museum over a period of five days this mid-September. Although the music has stopped with her return to London, Stella Vine's live painting performance The Waltz plays on at the Museum of New Art (MONA) in the form of the deconstructed wall mural stacked into five large sections that now lean against its former wall. 


In its new set of variations, The Waltz now includes a six-channel video installation that explores the process of Ms Vine's working techniques in the creation of the mural. This new arrangement and its counterpoint with the stacked artwork bring together ideas that explore issues of the artist's confinement and restriction to space and expectations; and question the ambiguous status of both spaces, both "real" and "virtual”, in contemporary art and society.



By the dismantling of her mural and the addition of the preparatory videos, Ms Vine has taken the painted stroke which can only resemble movement and turned it into a real action. She reveals a conceptual fourth dimension, a world beyond the painting - giving the work a new resonance, dramatically demonstrating the power and modernity of such combined gestures, both physical and virtual: the semblance of inertia across the stacked mural, while simultaneously reviving the active gesture together with its mirrored televised document.


The exhibition will run through October 28 at Detroit's Museum of New Art (MONA).



regular hours: 12-6pm Thursday through Saturday

MONA is located at 7 N. Saginaw, Pontiac

tel: 248-210-7560





When Charles Saatchi purchased her painting of Diana, Princess of Wales, Stella Vine was propelled into the centre of a media frenzy and aspects of her life story were filtered through that particularly English kaleidoscope that is tabloid tale telling. Somehow in all this temporary fiction, in the whole hoopla of burlesque outrage, the main point got lost - the work itself.

Stella Vine is a contemporary figurative painter, a tightropey place to be at present. Her paintings, however, far from being stuck in some kind of revisionist retreading, trace a radical trajectory that connects the Rococo lyricism of Gainsborough to the Kitchen Sink storytelling of John Bratby, arriving at a modern gothic soup of Dark Romanticism where it is possible to discern the artist thinking with her brush.

Vine's darkling theatre of identification, re-defines a contemporary axis of representation where the melancholic gravitas of the work is often balanced by deft touches of black humour. After the recent intense media scrutiny of her private life, Stella has spent time making new work, retreating into a fictive world “like a lost girl... a deranged teenager trying to make an environment of loves, memories and desires”.

Not unlike the songs of P.J Harvey, which “dramatise the conflicts of
desiring and being desired”, Vine explores “a kind of self exposure that uniquely combines seduction and threat, intimacy and estrangement”.

- Alex Michon



View Stella Vine's work


Real Detroit



"The endgame is to be an extremely famous artist in lots of museums."
- Stella Vine, Art Review













































Question: A big art collector like Charles Saatchi has bought your work, there has been media frenzy and many pet theories on your work and there have been many people that reacted very strongly about your work. How has this affected Stella as a person?

Stella Vine: I think overall it’s all been really cool. I’m still such an awkward pain in the ass teenager though, in suitable gothic style I like the negative criticisms, they are more stimulating, I don’t believe the nice ones. Like when Brian Sewell, said,  “she paints like a frog, and she shouldn’t give up the night job”. I can keep up the fight, I guess. God knows what I’m fighting. I can’t tell you how physically and mentally exhausted I am. I feel like there's something wrong with me. It’s been a tough last few years, and I’ve worked bloody hard. I paint all the time, and I’m forever trying to do up the knackered old buildings with no stairs or kitchens, that I tend to live in one day eh...!  ....and I put up with a lot of bass hurting my brain son and his mates making their hip hop music. There’s no routine to my life, and no lover, my confidence is at an all time low, that’s bizarre isn’t it?

Q: What is your big love and what is your big hate in the London art scene?

SV: It’s stimulating to have the amazing galleries and artists we have here in London, from the big guys to the artist run spaces. There’s a tension and stress, romance, glamour, it’s a tough city. I feel an outsider to most things in life, totally my own fault. I rarely go to private views, I find them tricky, and the art world seems really closed off, very difficult to get any advice, I just don’t fit in I guess, I wonder if I am a good artist sometimes.... and the whole thing was the ‘Saatchi shock, paint stripper’, but I think I have something, an ability to express something. Personally I think all art is autobiographical, emotional and expressive, be it a can of shit, blutac, or unmade beds, all of which I admire. London ummm.... I approached a few galleries for representation, but they weren’t interested, Andy Warhol didn’t fit in either did he...? Anyway I’m doing it my way. “Sid Vicious” – Stella Vine... it’s that old SV thing.  So London... umm it’s a love hate thing.

Q: The past two years you have been very busy and have had several one woman and group shows. Has this affected the process and the direction your work has taken?

SV: It’s been great to have the support of Cathy Lomax at Transition Gallery, she has been one of the few people to really believe in me. And some of the things she has said to me...for example I’d say...’I want to make a video, I’m Princess Lea, right, and I’ll film it in the snow up a mountain, and I turn around to R2D2 and say, on repeat,” please help me, I have lost my soul, help me  OB1Knobe, you’re my only hope”... type of thing... and she’d say...“great do it, just do it all, you shouldn’t censor yourself so much, stop chucking stuff out !” Nice genuine support without any motive. Cathy paints a bit like Peter Blake.  I first came across Cathy’s magazine ‘Arty’ a little art fanzine at the Serpentine gallery bookshop. I was opening my gallery Rosy Wilde, and I wanted to offer Cathy a show, so I got in touch with her....the energy in her magazine, and the childishness of it, I thought she would be a teenager, she was my age...and she also was running her own gallery. Mine was in a disused butchers shop, Cathy’s in a disused garage. She’s been a rock, I am notoriously unreliable, which I hope to improve…tomorrow. We have a lot in common, so that’s been an amazing meeting. We’ve both given a lot of shows to emerging and more established artists. Cathy loves group shows, I’ve given more solo shows. It’s been great, and I’ve learnt a lot, I’m open to all sorts of ideas. I love Gina Birch from The Raincoats, she played at my solo show, and also at the opening of ‘fan club’ at Rosy Wilde. I always wanted to meet her, so art has brought me that too.

Q: What do you find inspiring and what is very important for you at the moment?

SV: I like strong/vulnerable interesting women, and then sometimes I like painting beautiful men, like Kurt Cobain, or Mr Darcy. I’m painting Grayson Perry at the moment, it’s of him holding a sign, saying ‘NO MORE ART’, outside Tate Britain, my heart soared when I saw that image. But there’s no strict rules, I don’t have a line, or an angle , I like love stories, but that  might include something really warped like Fred and Rosemary West, but then that would probably have a secret message in it, or Chicken Stu and Michelle. I guess what drives me is trying to get all the things out of my head on to canvas or in other creative forms, things I admire, or things that srike a chord, or little secret messages, before I die. I’m quite private about what I’m painting, I don’t really like suggestions, or any input, it confuses and distracts me.

Q: Do you consider your portraits as works that are mainly for women to identify with or relate to and for men to observe?

SV: No I’m not interested in that at all.

Q: You once said "I can paint in a much more realistic, photographic style, but I find it more interesting to make it less perfect". I really agree and I always believed that the less perfect, is in actual fact more realistic. Do you agree?

SV: I think that when I paint more closely to the idea of reality, they become really boring for me, and I don’t have ideas about that perfect photo thing that appeals to me, or any ideas at all about that, just what comes out, and if I like it, it’s cool, regardless of whether it’s ‘bad’ or ‘unfinished’. There are artists I really like who are closer to that, like Richter maybe, but I don’t have that patience, maybe, or maybe the brains... ! Things that turn me on in art, are so varied, like I love Martin Creed’s work, I get high of his stuff, and then I like a lot of the outsider artists too.

Q: I find in your work something excitingly terrifying in the way your chosen subject matter has an expression that seems happy but also on a closer look it looks as if it is a forced smile, almost a forced happiness. Some of your work involves portraits of celebrities that one suspects they had that forced and fake element in their lives. Are you consciously drawn to that theme?

SV: No, actually more the other way, the terrible sadness in people, the awful things everyone goes through in life, the happiness is probably just already there in the image, and it’s a nice acceptable opposite to what I am interested in.

Q: In an interview earlier this year amongst the people you admire you mentioned Sylvia Plath and Frida Kahlo. Do you believe that poetry can be translated in painting? And do you think it is vital for the creating process to be what we could call "personal" in your choice of subject matters, themes, imagery?

SV: Although I like Sylvia’s poetry a lot, it’s the whole package with her and Ted (the famous poet and Plath’s husband) that I love. Sometimes I don’t do obviously personal. For example I painted Saddam Hussein’s kitchen, from an image in the papers, of the place where he was found. I wanted to paint it really pretty, like something cosy, and happy, and loving, which was in the image I think anyway. Sometimes I think my paintings get a bit conceptual... when there’s much more going on than just the personal or the expressive... but I can’t really explain it. I think the ‘Diana’ painting is conceptual. It ‘s working on some deep levels that I find hard to explain, it’s not just a painting about what I think about Diana. I probably could give you some arty theory, but I can’t really be assed, I am not as stupid as I make out…though!  I just think that what I am doing now is no different from anything I’ve done since as far back as I can remember, and I think that one day, when it’s all put together, it will make sense, and it will be deep. I found a little painting of Romeo and Juliet the other day I did as a child, I was so surprised, it really is no different, full of wishing, and darkness, and then another of a copy of a pre-Raphaelite painting, of two little girls huddled together, and I remembered what was going on in  my head when I painted it. I was about ten, I think. I wanted to go and live on my own in the hills, like Heidi, but without the grandfather.