No Hem

Sanc Gallery, Auckland, 2021



Tugging tribulations are described in the paintings in No Hem: Handling deviance in inhabited worlds. Figures inhabiting interior spaces are still, while the presence of the other is felt, the figures remain de-socialised from one another. The works hold pestering forces and dubious future conditions. When the content is mismatched or environs are made to continuously transform, “horror” or distress is likely to occur. “Horror,” an intense bodily feeling and aesthetic category are considered as that which exhibit “deviant” proportion, harmony and composition. No Hem researches the use of this deviant visual information in a contemporary painting practice. The research asks how deviance can gesture towards contextual conditions concerning the societal loss of knowledge spaces.

Operating within the painting strata of figure in interior, the research finds formal resonance for individualisation, architecture, dread and silence. Comaroff & Ong’s Horror in Architecture (2013) becomes a framework through which to explore horror and its deviant properties. Contextual research and practical application in a painting specific language negotiate the horrible characteristics of our built environments and contemporary and historic painting practices. The project discussed in this exegesis scrutinises how painting deviant bodies, spaces, and other horrors may offer new approaches to forms, composition and hierarchy.

The catalyst for the research is the condition of uncertainty in social organisations brought about by consolidation and expansion. Locally, examples of closures to libraries, privatisation of services and expulsion of cultural disciplines and their staffage have echoed global and historical negligence of cultural institutions. The attack on humanities practice-based education recall the expulsion of critique in colonising campaigns. The relentlessly hasty mutations speak to a worrisome standardisation of individual prospects.