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I am fascinated with painting glass –it’s transparent, only visible in terms of what it reflects, and its relationship to its environment. It becomes its surroundings, yet distorting them... I think this is an interesting metaphor for life, how nothing we do or feel or learn is in isolation. How we may be shaped by our environment more than we like to think. Honing in on the reflections, the colours and shapes created by the light, one forgets what an object is, or its purpose.
Glassware brings clarity, enlarges and distils. It also brings murkiness, uncertainty and fragmentation. In the stillness of reflecting, we glean moments of pure truth and wisdom, which if followed too far will unravel, wreaking uncertainty and chaos. I see beauty in the unknown, in the ambiguity. I like to leave some element of mess in the reflections. A balance between what is known, and an acceptance of what is not known - that is the murky area between. I am very comfortable representing what I do not understand and what I cannot describe. A hint of personification to leave you wondering - what would they say if they could speak?
This exhibition is a recognition of duality, often present in our lives ,and especially evident in this season of pandemic. For some, there has been rest and solitude; a winding/scaling down of one’s schedule bringing peace, introflection - a real stillness; a connectedness with one’s self.
Alongside, is lack of human connection, an isolation where introspection goes rogue, unchallenged; causing one to question the minutiae existence. Loneliness is gnawing and raw, wearing away at ones worth. The stress of uncertainty, of being reduced to a number, of being unable to make as many choices... The wrestle with self... Ponderings that never cease... where do we stop?
The works of glass and reflection stand in stark contrast to the looser style of my palette knife works. In these my focus has been more towards an emerging optimism... worked spontaneously from life in response to changes in my personal life, adapting to single parenting, downsizing my home, and the loss of studio space. There is a peace in letting things be.
‘End-times Showdown’ and ‘Apocalyptic Bubble-girl’ are whimsical works in which I indulged in my desire to create something light-hearted in response to the intensity of the Australian 2019/2020 summer of bushfires, drought and ending in the beginning of Covid-19. There was a real sense of freedom that came with attempting to mirror the surreal times we were in, in a time of increased isolation. They are painted from photos of my own children, doing what children do best when left with loads of unstructured time – playing. I liked the idea of contrasting the heaviness of the apocalypse with child’s play.
In a sense I think our kids are probably guiding us through these surreal times, they seem to have a much better understanding of how to approach life and tackle crises. Also if we listen to them, they may show us how to not destroy our world.However, there is also something not very innocent about child’s play… quite horrific, like ‘Lord of the Flies’ type violence. But these paintings are intended to leave the viewer pondering what the future holds for our children…
Nikki Suebwongpat ~ February 2021
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