words by emma beer 2018
Ten years ago now, I received a package in the mail from painter, teacher and adored mate Ruby. At that time, we were each living in different parts of the country. She Alice Springs and I Canberra. In the package was a piece of woollen string with cardboard cut-out painted lettering dangling from it, spelling the words N O F E A R S E M M A B E E R S
At the time, I didn’t really get it and had no idea what to do with the thing. Later in conversation, Ruby explained to me that she made it because when she thought of me she thought of how I was a gutsy, fearless and brave person. My perception of myself, was and still is that I am riddled with fear, cautiousness and I would often describe myself as chickenshit. This shows that your experience of me is not the full me, and my experience of you is not the complete you. It takes a lot to get to really know someone.ForthelasttenyearsIhavehungtheslogan NO FEARS EMMA BEERS inmybedroomasareminderofthe strength, courage and fearlessness that is within me, somewhere.
NO FEARS EMMA BEERS hasbecomemyshamelessanthem.Nothingistoohard.
These paintings are me adopting the attitude of fearlessness. Just painting. Following my gut. Utilising what I know and what I feel self-referentially to move forward. This idiosyncratic (I hate that word) nature of painting makes for an unrefined yet truthful visual language, that is mostly satisfying to not make. The maker's job is to learn from the making. The viewer’s job to observe. They are not the same concerns.
Paraphrasing from the writings of David Bayles and Ted Orland in ART and Fear....
Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward. And somehow being ok with the uncomfortableness of being, doing, looking and feeling.
My painting practice is engaged with spatial illusion through abstraction. I work with layering luminous glazes to build up hard- edged colour fields. The interplay of edges and lines generated by overlapping colour fields are the means by which I explore surface, space and movement.
The primary focus of my work is to question, through material and process, what painting can be. My works operate in the productive tension between two distinct histories of modernist abstraction: hard-edged geometric abstraction counterpoised with expressionist painterly gesture. Formal pictorial planes collide in space with territories where the paint is unselfconsciously applied.
I use blankness and the void as both literal and metaphoric engagement with painting’s relationship to technology. Dualities of vivid colour blocks and white geometric structures are paired to revisit Yves Klein’s attitude to minimalism and his references to the ‘void’. I wonder what this means now that we live partly in an abstract virtual world through technological development? I question what transcendence in painting might mean today. Try searching the hashtag.
Hashtags document and record things right? Particularly on social media and it’s a great way to list or to identify messages on a specific topic. If there is a hashtag for it, it must exist or must have happened some place, sometime.
As Agnes Martin tells us, most people can identify things that are beautiful but no one can tell us what beauty is.