'I was thinking of the seventeenth century Dutch group portraits and I wanted to work out how that sort of painting would be painted now. I saw contemporary equivalent to those large dark paintings of Regents and Burghers in newspaper photographs of human interest stories. From these pictures of moments of happiness and personal achievement, I have painted the world I have lived in and people I have known.'
The Artist, in converesation with Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 2000.
It is against the backdrop of seventeenth century Dutch genre painting that Maloney's work is best understood – a reference he made explicit in his 1997 exhibition entitled Genre Painting. Maloney radically brings the tradition of painting scenes of simple, domestic life into the present with brash colours, gestural brushstrokes and distorted compositions. Loose, expressive, often crude, the figures occupying Maloney's pictures are the idle youth of today. Firmly placed in the modern world, they are seen chatting, shopping, lounging around and hanging out in parks.
In Floor Display, young women are depicted at an exhibition. Typical of his style, perspective is distorted, however, a sense of space is achieved in the varying patterns on the floor which dominate the background. The title also playfully hints at the sense of the women, rather than the sculpture in the foreground, being on display to each other as well as to the viewer.
In his representation of idle youth, Maloney's paintings are a portrayal of banal modernity. Yet Maloney does not seek to critique such a contemporary lifestyle; rather these bright images have romantic connotations in a celebration of the ordinariness of everyday living.
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