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Oil - 48x96"
I had hoped seeing Journey in person would measure up to the potential I sensed in it from the digital version I saw while reviewing submissions. It surpassed them. I felt it in my chest the moment I walked into the gallery to see the show in person for the first time.
The artist's approach to composition and brushwork is sensitive and restrained, demonstrating an incredible economy of brush. This is a term I learned from one of my university professors and it always stuck with me. It means there are very few marks that actually make up these figures. Without any rendered detail, they are still so recognizable, the right one in particular appearing elderly by the mere suggestion of a flat-cap and stooped posture.
The clever use of shadows provided me with an instant clue to the fact that they’re people and not just specks, as well as setting a mood of transition times - long shadows could be dawn or dusk.
This diptych makes bold use of composition, with these teeny tiny figures in this enormous space. And it’s necessary, this contrast. The enormous sense of isolation (or potential), of peace (or desolation) absolutely requires it.
The suggestion of ground in these brownish areas across the bottom is also important, as is the tonal variation within the white. Together they create a lot of possibilities of what this space might be - sand, or sky, or something more metaphysical - a point of departure, or destination.
The artist has to trust in themselves to communicate so much with so little, and in the viewer - to extrapolate meaning from these carefully selected cues.
To me, Journey is less a portrait of these two people - or perhaps it is one person at two moments in time - than it is a portrait of the space and time around them.
Katie Wilde, juror