EXHIBITION SUMMARY AND ARTIST’S STATEMENT
Following on from a successful Residency at Metafora in Barcelona in 2015 where she exhibited in the ‘Body and Limits’ International Workshop, Jules Silk has returned to Auckland to mount an exhibition of 15 works exploring the textures, tones and disturbing intimacy of skin, referencing Oscar Wilde’s observation, “To look at a thing is not the same as really seeing a thing -- until one sees its beauty.”
The works range in size from 45cm to 3m and their unique appeal lies not just in the exploration of the subject matter but in the manner in which the oil medium imparts subtleties and gradations that are seldom perceived by the naked eye. It is the artist’s intention that the viewer engages with the tonal qualities and temperature of the works without being focused on ‘the need to know’. That they are sensual, alluring and disturbing is intentional. That they should remain obscure in large part – unable to be confidently tied down -- is also part of the artist’s intent.
“An early experience when touring a contemporary art exhibition left a lasting impression on me,” Jules recalls. “I walked past a table which appeared to be piled with abandoned junk. As I passed it by, the thought occurred that it must have been there for a reason, so I went back and decided to keep looking until something showed up. It took a good two minutes before I realized that every piece was moving, ever so slowly. The brilliance of the installation struck me just as strongly as the realization that few if any of the visitors to the exhibition were looking long enough and close enough to experience it.”
Realising that an exhibition audience is glancing, not properly observing, and assuming that their engagement with the image ends once the subject is understood is an all too frequent experience for the visual artist. The challenge for the artist who is intent on stretching the medium’s ability to engage the viewer in an emotional response, rather than a detached one, is to find a subject matter that relies on the medium to interpret it in a way that is unachievable in another medium. If the resulting image is also unfamiliar then the incentive for the viewer to engage is even greater.
‘Close ... Closer’ takes up that challenge and the artist and the oils respond in a fascinating collusion.
Chris Canning September 2017