1. Sobriety and Whimsy Straddled
The exhibition Safe House examines the
elusive nature of refuge. Our houses are solid and secure until some traumatic
event shakes this sense of confidence. When doubt sets in, we are transformed;
our paradise is lost. The imperceptible shift from safe to unsafe is paralleled
in the movement of the imagery within the paintings. Sturdy historical
foundations are referenced in the images of architectural details and
traditional lace and textile. Then follow allusions to nature and animals;
then to thoughts of disaster and to innuendo of political violence.
But seen in another light, there is also
a sense of fun and absurdity about the paintings. The title Safe House
itself, offers an underlying tone of cold war espionage escapades. Vienna
Before and After and Arabesque On My Mind are a couple of examples of
paintings that straddle the border between sobriety and whimsy.
2. Composition and Modern Life
Our age may be characterized by the unrelenting
bombardment from information technologies and by displacement and fragmentation.
The constant presence of media in our lives creates a sense of urgent
hyperkinetic activity. In order to counter this frenetic effect, each
painting in the suite contains one or two grey-scale images floating on
a single-colour flat ground. The viewer must slow down to focus on the
details of the image as well as on the implications of its juxtaposition
to neighbouring images.
The sense of fragmentation that also defines
modern life is referenced in this body of work. Not only do people feel
a sense of dislocation, but to whole populations that is a concrete reality.
Our multicultural cities are a testament to global movement, both chosen
and forced. There are allusions to cultural conflicts. The paintings may
seem serene or playful at first, but the titles cause the viewer to re-contextualize
the situation: One Morning in Omagh (Northern Ireland) ,Massachusetts
1690 ,Vienna Before and After and Monument (Warsaw) . One Morning in Omagh
describes a pleasant neighbourly scene with shops and shoppers and a father
holding a child on his shoulders. Seconds later a bomb blew up right there.
Massachusetts 1690 refers to the Europeans who came to North America and
imposed their culture on indigenous peoples. The other two reference World
War Two and the Holocaust and Poland’s and Austria’s duplicitous
To counter the condition of dislocation
resulting from political and social upheaval, individuals seek community.
My paintings are installed in such a way as to parallel the construction
and composition of varied communities- from rigid to fractured grids.
And like individuals in a community, each painting stands alone but reaches
out to juxtaposed paintings to create a richer more complex narrative.