Liam Belton's exhibition at the Peppercanister Gallery is thematically and formally concentrated. He is probably best known as a virtuoso painter of meticulously realistic still lifes with the occasional note of surrealism. But in this case art disguises art and he is carefully subdued and understated in his approach. His subjects are some of the megalithic stone monuments of Ireland, England and Wales. The most famous is Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, and that features in the show, but megaliths are plentiful in Ireland and there are many stunning examples.
Belton has not carried out a systematic survey. He seems to have painted the stones that happened to engage his eye and his imagination. What he has done is to tackle each work, no matter how varied in geographical location or scale, according to a set pattern, with a bleached-out, tonal palette and simplified imagery. Along the way he gets drawn into some interesting textural painting, building up substantial masses of pigment.
For the most part the remarkable durable arrangements of stone stand over vast and empty landscapes. And Belton muses on the emptiness, on occasion flanking his studies of megaliths with blank textural expanses of paint, minimally referring to earth, sea and sky. In fact, a couple of paintings dispense with the motif and leave us with pared-down landscapes punctuated only by a horizon line. These are among the best paintings in the show, and it's particularly good to see them emerge naturally from the context of the surrounding work.