Safe House


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 roles.

      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.

 
 

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