On show in the group exhibition The Solace of Grass with Barbara Penrose and Sally Cox at the Metcalfe Gallery, Brisbane Institute of Art, March 11th to 22nd 2023
For this show, gestated over a couple of years, most of the work came about in the months preceding the exhibition in a newly built, rural studio on a property we had moved to a year before.
The paintings evolved from images found in a ring-bound 1940s publication: New Photography – Lighting and Composition by Bruno of Hollywood. It’s a manual in the classic era of pin-up imagery, female nudes formally composed, exquisitely lit objectifications, set pieces with allusions to classical sculpture, clear lines, sharp edges, complicated shadows.
I had picked it up years before but couldn’t begin to see a way of using them until the move into a natural environment. Likening the pixels and film texture of 1940s print photography to the granular texture of rock, cypress bark and rhythmic vegetation around the studio made me look into the photographs as a space of granular rhythms playing ambiently around the pictorial image.
The regimented structures of repetitive pixels woven into the ‘noisy’ static of celluloid film lead me into spaces akin to those I find walking among lichen covered granite and scratchy-leafed melaleuca. Both the photographic and bush spaces form an austere screen in which narrowly insistent patterns relieve or are provoked by chaotic entanglements.
The work of an applied artist develops the body as an instrument (the copper-plate engraver’s wrist and burin, the textile weaver’s arm and shuttle, tapestry fingers) while there is a kind of static energy develops between historical DNA mixing with the moment of making.
Many of these paintings evolve from a transcribed figure or scene which collapses into a play of marks transforming the painting from figure-ground to fluxing space in which the figure’s presence is largely geometric. The cloud-like form of the installation becomes a kind of story board of stilled scenic details.
In early expressions of the erotic in archaic Greek poetry is the perception/experience of a form of static interference.
In the space of the erotic the body is a psychedelic concept; it swells and disperses; is mutable; is in a constant state of flux. The erotic space is filled with static electricity as the lines of desire move from lover to beloved and return to the lover transformed.
This experience of static interference presents a charged space where edges are all important if barely discernible and where things come into focus and vanish again.
But I return to the painting as Sappho in her poem fr31, the poet is one point in a triangle of relationships – she, swooning takes in the man across the way and is returned to herself a collapsing, emotionally charged and changed figure, or seems to be: