Offsite project at the Broadway Cinema
In 1936 the Broadway Cinema opened in Letchworth Garden City with a black-tie gala showing of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic Follow the Fleet. Using this as a starting point Cathy Lomax’s exhibition Star Bar taps into the glamour and dreamy atmosphere of the golden age of Hollywood by focusing on the female stars of 1936. Her close-up paintings, which feature stars such as Ingrid Bergman, Ginger Rogers and Bette Davis in film roles from 1936, are simultaneously of their period, and, because of the continually re-appropriation of Hollywood images in online beauty features and vintage fan sites, timeless. The paintings highlight femininity and surface, drawing on the way these actresses were styled and lit to transform them into impossible visions of womanhood. Beyond the glamour they foreground the masquerade of the made-up face by presenting it as a painted face; a construction made from loose brush marks, pools of flat colour and drips of liquid paint. These star close-ups are juxtaposed with a series of shiny reflective mirror paintings, which relate quite directly to the glamorous art deco period when the Broadway Cinema opened and Hollywood was christened the dream factory.