'Women in Abstraction'

Verso asked Carclew's curator and artists in residence to each share their artist statements for 'Women in Abstraction' - on show as part of SALA and FRAN festivals.

Exhibition Title: 'Women in Abstraction'
Artists: Emma Sullivan, Imogen Porteous, Olivia Kubiak (curator)
Venue: Carclew's Ballroom Gallery - 11 Jeffcott St North Adelaide
Dates: 3rd August - 24th September (Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm)
Special Event: Artists in Session (Thursday 31st August, 6pm - 8:30pm)

Emma Sullivan

I am inspired by the abstraction of flesh - creating monsters out of the ordinary. Horror and fantasy collide and create imaginary creatures that walk the line between the macabre and whimsical. These creatures are indicative of the human body, both psychologically and physically. My work questions and challenges pre-existing social norms of what femininity means. Through a juxtaposition of materials and techniques, hardware and toxic materials are saturated in baby pink and flesh tones, while traditionally feminine crafts such as decoupage and stitching are turned into monstrous versions of themselves. The work aims to champion femininity and show that it can be multidimensional - femininity is the soft and the hard, the desire and the repulsion, the rose and the thorn.

Imogen Porteous

Imogen’s creative practice explores contemporary femininity through painting and drawing. Her recent abstract works on canvas explore contemporary feminine identity, intimate bodily experience and personal feminist theory. Through a hand-applied painting process, Imogen aims to explore the influence of language, culture and sensory experience on gender identity. Imogen’s work in 'Women in Abstraction' is a critical response to conventional notions of femininity. She is investigating her personal feminine identity through the act of making. The painting process is influenced by the Western cultural concept that associates the sense of touch is with femininity,

“In the case of women, their association with the senses of touch, taste and smell reinforced the cultural link between femininity and the body, for their senses were closely tied to intimate bodily experience. The distance senses of sight and hearing, by contrast, were associated with the perception of the external, masculine world.” [1]    

Obscure, fluid structures float in soft focus on raw canvas. Their surfaces are layered skins formed by pools and marks of hand-applied paint. The paintings are evocative of conventional feminine characteristics using soft colour, fluidity, texture and organic line. The work playfully portrays the disconnection between the artist’s active and intimate process of painting and the cultural perception of passive, girlish femininity. The work of 'Women in Abstraction' embraces the evolution of diverse feminine identity in our contemporary culture.  

Imogen Porteous is an emerging visual artist based in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Painting) in 2015 and Graduate Diploma in Visual Art and Creative Practice in 2016 at the University of South Australia. mogen's research and studio practice explores the human experience, psychological portraiture, gender identity and her own contemporary feminine identity. Her painting practice is immersed in the process of making, inspired by a personal connection to methods of gestural and non-traditional material inquiry. Recent abstract paintings investigate the canvas surface as a projected space for the feminine body. A sense of intimacy is created as the paint is applied directly by the artist's hand. 

[1] Constance Classen, The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch, p. 75.

Olivia Kubiak

Olivia is the current curator in residence at Carclew. She has recently completed her Master of Arts (Curatorial and Museum Studies) at the University of Adelaide, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Art History, and a Bachelor of Media. Olivia is of Polish heritage and much of her passion for art and history developed when she travelled in Europe as a teenager and visited many Polish and Czech museums and castles. Olivia is interested in curating, arts administration and events. She has completed a diverse range of internships and volunteer work including: local government art department, working with the SA Museum on the Australian Indigenous ethnographic digitisation project, assisting with Espionage Gallery’s Follow the White Rabbit exhibition in 2015, working on the University of Adelaide’s art collection at University Collections; and developing a digital archive for past exhibition photographs at the Contemporary Arts Centre of South Australia. Olivia has a strong interest in European and Australian art history and does much independent research on the establishment and reshaping of cultural institutions and curatorial practice in post-Communist Europe. As well as this, she has strong passion for contemporary art practice, and hopes to build her career working with contemporary artists. She’s particularly interested in street art and political art.