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Shaping the Invisible

Emily Pope
16/12/2023 - 20/01/2024
Dissipating (2022) by Emily Pope
Dissipating (2022) by Emily Pope

SENS Gallery is pleased to announce “Shaping the Invisible”, an exhibition that will feature works by Canadian artist Emily Pope. The exhibition will take place from 16 December 2023 to 20 January 2024. This exhibition will mark Emily Pope’s first solo exhibition with SENS Gallery and in Asia.

‘Shaping the Invisible’ is a collection of work that explores the vulnerability of the human form, forging the palpable veracity of hidden feelings and desires. Pope’s paintings are her perceptions of her own physicality, creating a gaze that challenges the traditional portrayal of the female figure in the art historical canon, engaging the notion towards a contemporary trajectory. Accompanying these self-portraits are inanimate objects, effusing that of a still life image. These elements evoke feelings of discomfort to be felt by the viewer. They exist as a separate entity from the physical nature of the human body, and reflect on the complex relationship that exists between ourselves and the world that surrounds us.

The works that will be shown in this exhibition include new pieces that reflect on these motifs and ideas in her canvases. Painting is a vessel of introspection, where symbolic objects and figures are placed within careful yet sparse compositions. Whether viewed from behind or from a close distance, the presence of certain symbols augment the implicit realities of the human experience. Glass objects, pearls, delicately embroidered gloves, carcasses and shells synergize into a narrative that acknowledges the limitations of existence. Pope also compartmentalizes the human body through her close compositions of a particular body part, and transforms it to resemble an environment that complements the items that are placed against it. ‘Liminal Fragility’ (2023) uses the curved forms of the figure to create a background that comes in tandem with the glass flower, and utilising light and shadow to enhance the fragility of existence.

In ‘Unseen Garden Held in Trust’ (2023), Pope explores the belief the invisible: a figure’s back is turned to the viewer, cradling lilies in hand, which appear suspended, holding on to its drooping form. It is a perturbing image that explores the connection between an invisible hope, in the form of the delicate flowers, and the vulnerability of the human form, visualized by uncertainty in the grip of the figure. ‘Inertia of Comfort’ (2023) features a woman’s hands placed towards her back attempting to remove five pearls that have been placed on her. Pearls, often viewed as a symbol of perfection, are pinned into the skin of the woman, juxtaposed against the elongated shadows of her fingers drawn on the canvas of her back. Pope creates an extraordinary image, utilising pearls to evoke feelings of discomfort, reflecting on the impossibilities of achieving perfection.

‘Shaping the Invisible’ is an invitation of reflecting on the human experience through works that navigate hope and discomfort. Pope’s paintings highlight the synergy of the physical and the spiritual, contending with exploring identity and emotion within the invisible.