Deborah Poynton: The Human Abstract
From March 24 to May 4,
This body of work is titled after a poem by William Blake, from his Songs of Experience, published in 1794. Poynton writes:
In this poem, Blake says that each virtue requires its opposite to exist at all, and thus that truth is a kind of self-deceit; goodness requires evil to be seen as good, and human love thrives on control and selfishness. Moral order requires moral disorder to have any meaning. Born out of our own fear of what we can’t explain, this system of certainties blinds us to nature, to the divine. Our very nature makes us unnatural.
We are eternally caught in this dilemma. Society thunders on in a mad, self-destructive fury of things, sounds, poisons, excesses, hurts and outrages, spouting certainties from all sides. Nature is ravaged while we water our pot plants and cook supper, try to bring up our children well, and seek out small reassurances.
There is an absence of certainty in these paintings; they don’t lay claim to relevance. Passages lead to and from nowhere in particular, and yet everything is particular. I can only offer those small reassurances that I crave for myself: light at the end of the tunnel, nostalgia for the idea of an image, funny moments, an attachment to place and stuff.
Poynton combines finely detailed realism with loose gestural brushwork and unpainted areas in her muscular compositions. Figures and objects are isolated, removed from their contexts, or subsumed within dense tangles and accumulations. As always in her work, the eye and mind are seduced by the illusionism of the image only to be led back to the surface of the painted canvas, and awareness of the ongoing play of perception. In this way, Poynton creates the kinds of paintings she longs for – ‘solid objects that are also in a state of impermanence, floating fragments, little beds, sheets pulled tight or rumpled, in which one can bury one’s head, follow paths that wind through the gaps between certainties, and allow the pain of joy’.
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