The figures in Stephens works are fastidiously composed through a process of photographing, staging and manipulation. Often arising from an inherent collaboration with the subject, these compositions always reflect something of their energy or personality, and in this way invite the viewer to meaningfully contemplate their own condition and engage in a sort of dialogue with the work. Some of these paintings reference art history in a playful or meaningful context, highlighting the nude or human form as a figure carrying inherent emotional, historical and political resonance. Emerging from rich dark backgrounds amidst bold tones of black and red, they are brilliantly visceral and raw, glowing with emotionality, vital with gesture and tension. Within these static performances, they somehow maintain that sense of movement and tension, drawing it out and holding the gaze.

For Stephens, the most satisfying stage of the process is the penultimate moment of preparing the finished work to be encountered and seen/felt by others. With this act of relinquishing, and through the response and interaction of the viewer, comes the titular feeling of catharsis. That pivotal moment of release, providing relief from the intensity of creative pursuit and a moment to process the experience and value of making.

Words by Zachary Calleja.

Eight, 2020
Oil on board, framed.
63 x 92cm



Seventeen, 2022
Oil on linen.
152 x 214cm



Fourteen, 2021
Oil on linen. 1
53 x 200cm



Twenty, 2022
Oil on board.
134 x 300cm



Twelve, 2020
Oil on board.
45 x 60cm



One, 2023
Oil on linen.
183 x 122cm



Three, 2023
Oil on linen.
62 x 46cm



Four, 2023
Oil on linen.
61 x 198cm