SURFACE: Phenomenology – A bodily experience.

In the visual arts, ‘surface’ alludes to the outer-most visible ‘skin’ of the work. Texture in two and three-dimensional work is perceived by its physical and visual qualities, which convey messages and emotions by way of association and its potential to impact the viewer’s feelings.

The premise for this curated exhibition SURFACE is to draw attention to the visual expression and chosen modes of practice in the work of artists Tracey -Maree Smith, Rick Carlino and Anya Pesce.

Considering the work of the artists with reference to SURFACE, we analyse their approach to the subject in their contemporary practices. Surface as the outer skin, and as the external embodiment of the internal concepts and intentions of the artist, is the observable layering of ideas and the culmination of processes amounting to a final result.

French Philosopher Maurice Jean Jacques Merleau- Ponty (1908-1961) suggested that the act of painting is equivalent to the act of thinking, and that it seeks to celebrate the idea of visual experiences. The objective of this curated exhibition is to feature the work of three artists whose practices are each driven by particular modes of expression but who each strives to offer up a ‘visual feast’ – the ‘Surface’.

On viewing a work, our eyes touch its surface and the body responds. It is a visceral and bodily sensation. Absorbing and observing the work in its totality becomes a sensory experience, as light creates variations of tone and depth, our olfactory senses detect the faint smell of paint, and the desire to touch the work is irresistible. The artist, by manipulating the viewer’s perception, has seduced you.

In his slick paintings, Rick Carlino uses epoxy resin as a final layer in his practice, which is poured onto a support, resulting in a high gloss reflective layer. Colour is enhanced by the medium. His meticulous preparation of frame and ground is laid down in preparation for the poured medium, which offers a visual depth, like looking into the abyss, which has no beginning or end.

In contrast to Carlino’s practice, Tracey- Maree Smith obliterates her surface by sanding back many layers of applied paint, resulting in an aerial landscape of mapped emotions. Laborious in the making, copious amounts of paint are built up on a support and then ground back, exposing striations of history, both physical and metaphorical. Visually, Smith’s work is dynamic with broad colour planes interrupted by gestural marks and beautiful highlights. Conceptually, personal stories are revealed once the external skin is removed. Smith then assesses the composition and adapts it by further tweaking between application and removal.

From Smith’s canvas as sculpture to Anya Pesce’s fusion of painting to sculpture, Pesce hand-moulds the material polymethyl methacrylate to create three- dimensional forms. Working with industrial rectilinear sheets, transformation takes place through heating and manipulation resulting in twisted forms, drapes of various shapes and scale. Frustrated with the conventions and limitations of traditional materials associated with painting, the acrylic offers a short cut to a beautiful finish that cannot be replicated by any other medium. The beautiful reflective surfaces of Pesce’s forms appear deceivingly soft by mimicking fabric and referencing the body; these forms allude to the world of fashion/art/design and excess fetish obsessions surrounding desire and consumption. Aesthetically, this is manifested through the glossy exterior of the work.

Anya Pesce.
August 2021.


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