16 MARCH 2002, Page 34

Elizabeth Kenny takes a look at the forthcoming exhibitions at Kings Road Gallery Preview

Kings Road Gallery has a varied and exciting line up of exhibitions this spring, beginning with Russian painter, Konstantin Bessmertny. For his debut exhibition in London, Konstantin has created a collection of paintings which explore the themes of gambling, revolution and eating. Following in the tradition of Vermeer and Velasquez, these new works are based around the use of camera ob.seura and experiments with perspective. Bessmertny is involved with creating an internal backdrop that is exquisitely rendered in the minutest of details against which his solemn characters play out their roles, whether it is dancing on a table or welcoming a visiting dignitary. He is a master at depicting familiar surroundings, but peopling them with a strange cast of characters in situations that recall Ionesco, and the Theatre of the Absurd. This combination of technical mastery with intellectual playfulness and a darkly idiosyncratic sense of humour has become his signature style.

Irish abstract expressionist, Frank Phelan unveils his 'one man show' in early May. Phelan first appeared on the art scene in the early sixties, having lived and painted in Canada from the mid-fifties. He was one of the colourful and talented array of artists showing with the Richard Demarco gallery in Edinburgh. After an intensely creative period of critical acclaim, lasting a couple of decades, he retreated into the background to teach art. Phelan re-emerged into the commercial art forum a few years ago holding a 'one man show' with Merriscourt gallery. There are two major halves in the exhibition, the sixties and that of the present day. His work has remained constant in style and form, the only major change in technique between then and now being his early obsession with geometric units of colour and linear strokes, they were shapes in fields of colour,whereas now the canvasses appear to be more vibrant, they draw the viewer in with their energy and movement. The latest works express a new interest in tonality. Phelan quotes Harold Rosenberg on abstract expressionism, 'Allusion is the basis upon which painting could disperse with depiction without loss of meaning', and this is what he tries to achieve...