Seeking a deeper connection between viewer and artist through glimpses of intimacy and vulnerability
SENS Gallery is pleased to announce “Through the Window”, a group exhibition featuring the work of Jess Allen, Thérèse Mulgrew, Rachel Sharpe, and Caroline Zurmely. The exhibition will take place from 18 November to 9 December 2023. The exhibition showcases intimacy and vulnerability as expressed by four female artists, seeking to create a deeper connection between the artists and the viewer.
Jess Allen’s shadow figure paintings fixate on the feeling of a past moment in time. Still and content like that of a photograph, they are still, forever etched into a memory. Time and memory are symbolized through the everyday movements and subjects on the canvas. Constantly lurking is the continued presence seen amongst books and other domestic objects – shadows that inhabit these interior spaces, sometimes even falling across objects, like in We are just passing through, study 1 (2023) and Joined, study (2023). Their stillness and proximity encourages a welcome closeness and the feeling of being together in the moment. An allegory of memorabilia, these shadows have the power to share a sense of familiarity for the viewer despite its predominantly personal subject matter.
Feelings of timelessness eschew in the oil paintings of Thérèse Mulgrew. Akin to a film still, Mulgrew’s hyper-realistic oil paintings draw to strong lights and shadows as a means to portray how one may present themselves to the world. Morning Ritual (2023) is a painting of a sitting individual with a cigarette in their right hand, their left hand adorned with rings grabbing their foot, while a cup, an ashtray, and a pile of books are present on the patterned rug below them. Mulgrew creates a scene that is simultaneously still and dynamic, juxtaposing the rough textures of the rug with the smooth textures of skin of the idling individual. Her compositions and use of rich colours are inspired by the vivacity of photography, fashion editorials, and the daily moments of beauty, creating narratives that play with the viewer’s imagination.
Rachel Sharpe’s oil paintings are synonymous with dramatic chiaroscuro lighting that emphasize on textures and colour. Sharpe explores how the two animals in Goat (2023) and Pullet (2023) are both animals that will eventually create produce that humans will consume. In Goat, Sharpe is fascinated with the diverse symbolism associated with the goat – it has represented magic and spirituality, or even fertility and virility depending on the culture. With Pullet, Sharpe uses warm tones to portray feelings of warmth and protection, but the way in which the pullet is cradled also reflects on the fragility of existence given its young age. Sharpe thus draws into considering the physical and the spiritual through these animals.
Caroline Zurmely utilizes the unconventional material of nail varnish to explore celebrity culture, specifically tabloid photography, through tight close-ups that captures the viewer and create a sense of intimacy with respect to distance. She places her subjects in close proximity, removing them from their wider contexts. By placing the subject’s right hand as the focal point of Carry (2023), Zurmely crops the image to disrupt the viewer’s sense of distance and creates an enthralling effect that draws the viewer towards the image. The pearl necklace worn by the woman is the focal point of Necklet (2023), arranged by Zurmely at a near distance to draw the viewer to its intricate details and question the nature of beauty.
Jess Allen reflects on time and memory through a continued presence; Thérèse Mulgrew uses semi-autobiographical narrative portraiture to explore vulnerability, Rachel Sharpe delves into the liveliness and fragility of existence through her animal portraits; and Caroline Zurmely plays with perception, taking an image out of context to reflect on the intimacy and vulnerability of celebrity culture and tabloid photography.