Thursday, 16 May 2013

Amy Bennett's AT THE LAKE

Amy Bennett's At The Lake reminds me of Julio Cortazar's Blow Up. I feel as if I'm looking through a lens and the closer I look, the clearer it becomes that all is not well at the lake. With a style of painting that gives her scene the look of a tilt-shift photograph with people looking vaguely like miniature figures, it has the effect of making each individual look so incredibly isolated. Even in groups (as above), individual isolation seems to be magnified as the Spartan landscape intensifies the odd focus on people despite their diminutive size.

Aside from isolation, the titles imply uncertainty and menace forcing you to investigate further. It's an odd experience seeing her paintings. At first glance or from a distance, they seem vaguely akin to Edward Hopper but perhaps with even brighter colours and optimism. A step closer and the eye senses something isn't right. What scale is this? Are those people or toys? Even closer observation raises more questions and looking for clues in the titles adds to the mystery.

Take the image below as an example. Is the man helping the woman from the lake? Has she passed out? Why isn't she wet? Oh, there's a boat... The title is "Into the Woods". What happened before? What will happen next? I love how these paintings play on our expectations with double edged narratives enhanced so incredibly by Amy Bennett's unusual style.

"Working with common themes such as transition, aging, isolation, and loss, I am interested in the fragility of relationships and people’s awkwardness in trying to coexist and relate to one another. To that end I create miniature 3D models to serve as evolving still lifes from which I paint detailed narrative paintings. Using cardboard, foam, wood, paint, glue, and model railroad miniatures, I construct various fictional, scale models. Recent models have included a neighborhood, lake, theater, doctor’s office, church, and numerous domestic interiors. The models become a stage on which I develop narratives. They offer me complete control over lighting, composition, and vantage point to achieve a certain dramatic effect."

"While working with tiny pieces that often slip frustratingly from my fingers, I am reminded of the delicacy and vulnerability of the world I am creating, and this summons empathy for my subject. The clumsy inadequacies of miniatures help me to convey a sense of artifice and distance.  I try to paint the scenes in a way that feels like a believable world, but an alternate, fabricated world."

"The paintings are glimpses of a scene or fragments of a narrative. Similar to a memory, they are fictional constructions of significant moments meant to elicit specific feelings and to provoke the viewer to consider the moment before or after the one presented in the painting. I am interested in storytelling over time through repeated depictions of the same house or car or person, seasonal changes, and shifting vantage points. Like the disturbing difficulty of trying to put rolls of film in order several years after the pictures have been taken, my aim is for the collective images to suggest a known past that is just beyond reach."

"Throughout 2010 and 2011, I created a mosaic with fabricator Franz Meyer of Munich for MTA’s Arts for Transit. Installation of the project, “Heydays” was recently completed in the 86th St./4th Ave. R Line Subway Station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. This past summer my work was also featured in “Otherworldly”, a show at The Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. Recent awards include The American Academy of Arts & Letters The Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, a NYFA Fellowship in Painting, and a residency at The Marie Walsh Sharpe Studio Program. Sore Spots, a show of new paintings, monotypes, and sculpture, is currently on view at Galleri Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm."

Amy Bennett
Amy Bennett (Richard Heller Gallery)
Amy Bennett (The Harlow)

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