WHAT' S SO FEARSOME ABOUT THAT?  AN ARTIST STATEMENT WRITTEN BY EMMA BEER

An extract from an unwittingly amusing scene in The Sound of Music: “What is it you can’t face, Maria?” says Mother Superior. To the ears of the filthy mind the phrase becomes an ironically obscene insult – language surely never used by a nun.

 

New Zealand comedian, Alan Brough, of Spicks and Specks fame did a sexed-up comedy performance based on the film in 2011. You might wonder: how did Brough solve a problem like Maria? ''Maria solves her own problems by kicking arse,'' he explains. ''Like everyone in the story, she's struggling with her inner demons.'' [1]

 

Those who know me well are already familiar with my mild obsession with The Sound of Music, a hangover from my childhood. My first ever crush was Julie Andrews as Maria. So much so that when I was 7 I had my hair cut like Maria’s. Strangely, I wanted to be her.  Not so much now. I believe this infatuation was a response to the self-expression and self-reflection that Maria embodies. “I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain…I have confidence in me!” These days I reckon the possession of these things– self-reflection and expression– make the difference between a painter and an honest painter.

When painting, I encourage myself to employ a high level of focus. Through practice I have developed disciplined glazing techniques via the influence of early Venetian painting, as well as my engagement with printmaking. In particular, I pay special attention to light and colour to create luminosity. And in contrast to this I then search for density and richness in the same colour to establish depth and a sense of grounding.  Form, line and edge have become my way of understanding surface, space, and pictorial illusion.

When I think about what these works are doing, it is Minimalism and its role and resonance within contemporary painting that occupies my mind. Previously, Minimalism and The Void were key to the achievement of transcendence within the act of looking. In the face of constant daily interaction with the electronic void of virtual space, my paintings are a kind of object-void, an alternative virtual space. I want the paintings to ground the viewer, to slow the down the way they consume images one after the other.  I do it myself: mindlessly scrolling through my phone, I sometimes feel as though I’m motion-sick. Or image sick. An addict.

But I simply remember my favourite things and then I don’t feel so bad.

 

The act of painting, and paint as a thing, is my primary focus. The paintings themselves have become subject, object and model. For me, every interaction with paint requires both a physical and mental response and involves hand, eye, gut and mind. Intuition plays a huge part in constructing a painting. I observe and explore what this means, to trust the gut, and wonder where the spontaneous gesture comes from.  When Maria faces her fears, she convinces herself to show “courage to serve them with reliance, face my mistakes without defiance.”

 

I wonder. . . . what's so fearsome about that?

 

 

[1] Lallo, Michael. “Down and Dirty with The Sound of Music” April 5 2011. The Sydney Morning Herald.com. http://www.smh.au/entertainment/down-and-dirty-with-the-sound-of-music-200220404-1cyk.html March 3, 2017.

 

- MARCH, 2017.