The one commonality we have with others in
this world is that our perception of it is unique.
“& Others” is an exhibition showcasing contemporary figurative work, focusing on the nature of humanity rather than the depiction of the human form. It is about the people we are, believe our selves to be, hope or fear others see us as, and how we see others. It is also an exploration of self as we pass through the realms of reality, dreams and imagination. The exhibition has been curated as part of Imprint Gallery’s program for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, opening on November 1.
The title tries to encompass a multitude of themes that run through this body of artwork. The word ‘others’ can have positive and negative cogitations. We can take comfort in being with others, and we can feel anxiety in seeing ourselves as being separate and different from the others. Often our own sense of self is tied to how we place ourselves within the context of others.
The one commonality we have with others in this world is that our perception of it is unique. The exhibition offers up the unique perceptions of the artists to be interpreted from the unique perspective of the viewer. This process can throw up quiet discomfort when the visual language used is foreign to the viewer, but often we recognize shared truths and connections. “& Other” includes work from regular gallery artists, Duy Huynh, Emily McPhie, and Aggie Zed. It also introduces the work of new artists to the gallery, Doug Whitfield, Carla O’Connor and Michael Kelly.
Doug Whitfield is fascinated with the concept of individual perception of reality, dreams and alternative realities. His approach to painting is instinctive, engaged and engaging. There is whimsy combined with real-world grit in the subject matter. In his dancing couples and shortened figures he questions the notions of loveliness and the grotesque - creating endearing protagonists that fall outside the norms of accepted beauty. He explains, “My compositions are dreamlike; they blur myth, history and fantasy together. My characters gesture to you dramatically and strike romantic poses on the stage of my fantastic theater. They are cognizant of you, just as you are of them. In my ambiguous dramas, the beautiful and grotesque seem but two sides of the same coin. The point of these juxtapositions, other than for your delight, is to engage the power of your imagination to reconcile the ambiguity. My performers beg you to step onto their stage and play along with them in my fantastic theater.”
For Carla O’Connor, an award-winning watercolor painter, the human form has been the touchstone of her work. She strives to amalgamate the three dimensional figurative form with a two dimensional abstraction of its surroundings. This is the means by which she communicates a personal vision of the strengths and fragility of life. “My work addresses the passage of time - the human response to the internal and external events that change and shape our lives. The work has evolved like a continuous spiral, always circling around to a new beginning and provides me with a visual narrative to express all those moments and experiences—both minuscule and monumental. “
Aggie Zed’s mixed media painting also seek to express the joy and poignancy of life. Her drawings and paintings mix dreamed and lived experience in a collision of realities, questioning the rationality of human activity. Much of her imagery is drawn from her rural home environment. She often depicts humans and/or animals, within a domestic or farmyard setting. Mirrors and doorways are then used as devices to added elements that appear chronologically wrong or inappropriate to the narrative. Animals play an important role both as participant observers to the human drama and foils to daily tasks of mundane life.
The figure is Michael Kelly’s main source of inspiration, representing all that we are familiar with in terms of form, function and emotional narrative. In his work he aims to reflect energy and motion - to reveal the living aspects and true nature of his subject’s existence. He uses Matisse’s quote," Inherent truth is disengaged from the outward appearance of an object " as a key to the intent of his work. His drawings are a spontaneous response to observed reality. Although he talks in terms of reality, it is not his intention to faithfully render the physical form saying, “It is a search for an internal reality that validates an object’s reason for being.” He explains that his work “is a process of discovery through deconstruction. This process allows me to dignify the presence of the subject that I am working from, rather than to characterize it. I maintain the aspect of the gesture in the approach to my work. This approach allows the drawing to live and to invoke a response.”
In Duy Huynh’s poetic and contemplative paintings the artist has developed a vocabulary of symbolism with recurring images that relate to physical or spiritual travel. Born in Vietnam, themes of geographical and cultural displacement are prevalent in Huynh’s artwork. Ethereal characters maintain a serene but precarious balance, in a surreal or dreamlike setting. He attempts to literally and symbolically connect the fluid patterns in nature with that of human made aspirations. His goal is to nurture a visual language that evokes a sense of wonderment while celebrating the fragile nature of life.
The viewer is asked to navigate themes of faith, family and recollection in Emily McPhie’s compelling paintings. She hurriedly interprets the emotions of family life, motherhood and the ever-changing relationships with her children, husband and siblings. She explains that she is driven by the need to translate those thoughts and emotions into images before her perceptions change, and time has opportunity to color her recollection. Her work uses symbolism in the magic realism tradition, but it is also rooted deeply in fundamental shared truths. She often uses the direct gaze to connect the viewer with the work, giving us mixed signals of familiarity and separateness. These paintings explore the experience of family, relationships, and establishing ones own persona within the world. Who am I? How do I fit in? What is important to me?