Trappings, by Marie Le Lievre, is the first solo exhibition by a woman across both galleries at the Buchan St premises of Jonathan Smart.
March 13 - April 4, 2015
Within this exhibition, Le Lievre presents four slightly different threads of visual research – bodies of work related via their maker’s wonderful feel for colour and her equally admirable control of touch. Though, to call her touch controlled is perhaps misleading. In the Interior Motifs works for example, Le Lievre pours oil paint, then trails graphite lines with an intent that is both careful and full of play. The combination can be breathtaking. The result: a series of seemingly random meetings between pigment and casual line within the visual field which comprises each painting. That field is quite contained – contained within an oil medium carefully prescribed on a ground of Le Lievre’s signature duck-egg blue. The base is quiet and flat. Line and colour sing upon it, laced variously into, over and around the other within shallow space.
Visually, the recipe looks similar in the Paraphenalia paintings. Except that notions of containment or confinement are established not by a field of oil medium, but by high viewpoint – that lovely old-fashioned device of looking down at a table top, or at the paraphernalia thereupon. Not surprisingly, these domestic objects seem more felt than described. Contours are irregular and space confined. It is pools of dreamlike and illogical colour that lift these paintings. They are majestic painterly constructions more than they are domestic still lives. These are darker psychological studies – direct and honest, wild and weird – much more than they are polite, quiet or decorous.
A similar edge pervades the two big Marked paintings in this show. Layers of oil paint are lovingly poured and pulled by hand, building up deep luscious fields of violet and cerulean blue respectively. The pigments are rich and beautiful. They exude a glazed intensity. Then Le Lievre takes to them with the edge of her palette knife, recklessly scratching and scarring their surfaces. Oil is torn right through underpainting to the canvas beneath. Lucky, not to tear the canvas, but enough to scarify the surface as in a frenzied attack. Scarily cathartic perhaps?
There is a dark energy also, about the exhibition’s title work Trappings (Lamp Black). Eye-catchingly hung above She (Traps), a black cloud of emulsion threatens the delicate figure below – itself caught within a thick veil of blue-green oil paint. There is a sense of turmoil and threat. She of the painting’s title wears (seemingly) a crown of thorns. Entrapment or escape? With the weight of the world – well, with a serious weight of oil painting upon her shoulders. Is this Le Lievre pondering the age-old artists’ dilemma: to acknowledge tradition and context, whilst also resisting and creating significance for themselves and those around them? And is such a position – finding it, laying it out and maintaining it – any more difficult for a woman?
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List of works
Stacked oil on canvas 1800 x 1600mm
Marked (Violet) oil on canvas 1620 x 1860mm
Fly Catcher oil on inkjet 1/1 440 x 485mm framed
Marked (Cerulean) oil on canvas 1900 x 1660mm
Gun Ho (Paraphenalia) oil on canvas 1800 x 1600mm
Holy (Paraphenalia) oil on canvas 750 x 750mm
Junk (Paraphenalia) oil on canvas 890 x 890mm
Interior Motifs (Hooked) oil on canvas 900 x 900mm
Interior Motifs (Culling) oil on canvas 1400 x 1400mm
Trappings (Lamp Black) oil on canvas 1630 x 3150mm
She (Traps) oil on canvas 1670 x 1520mm
Interior Motifs (Luv) oil on aluminium panel 300 x 300mm
Interior Motifs (Baggage) oil on canvas 1190 x 1190mm
Interior Motifs (False Flags) oil on aluminium panel 600 x 600mm
Interior Motifs (Killing Munchies) oil on aluminium panel 600 x 600mm
All works are from 2015
For a review of this exhibition, go to: