MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE said, ‘The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is delighted to present Louise Hearman’s first major museum survey spanning an impressive career. The exhibition encompasses more than 50 oil paintings on masonite and a selection of works on paper.’
‘Developed by MCA Curator Anna Davis in close conversation with the artist, it is based around a series of moods and atmospheres rather than a chronology, and reveals Hearman’s surreal and highly personal vision.’ Macgregor continued.
The Melbourne-based artist is best known for her dark dream-like paintings where things may, or may not be, as they seem. It is up to us to imagine what is glimmering in the half-light or lurking deep in the shadows, as the artist offers no written clues to the evocative contents of her works, which are always left untitled.
Working at a small scale, predominantly in oil on Masonite, Hearman returns repeatedly to certain motifs; a child’s luminous face floating in a sea of darkness; the back of someone’s head; a glowing orb; a deserted road; an aeroplane gliding through a gloomy sky; a dog’s disembodied head; a phosphorescent sunset; a melancholic cloud; flowers; birds; cats; and perhaps most bizarrely, rows of giant shining teeth, smiling incongruously. Melbourne’s bush and suburban landscapes feature prominently in her work; often captured at twilight or at sunset and incorporating otherworldly forms that imbue them with a supernatural quality.
Hearman collects imagery for her paintings by photographing her everyday experiences. She mentally recombines these photographs with other images inside her head, and works in her studio to create unsettling compositions that transform the ordinary into something very strange. With great technical skill and rapid brushwork, she focuses intently on capturing particular qualities of light in her subjects. Her disquieting images are reminiscent of fleeting sensory impressions, like something that is glimpsed but not quite seen, caught at the moment just before conscious apprehension.
MCA Curator Anna Davis said, ‘Louise Hearman’s paintings are often said to have a cinematic quality, and like film stills they capture transient moments of imaginary time.’
‘By combining commonplace imagery with personal visions of the unknown and the unknowable, Hearman’s surreal paintings hint at the compelling nature of our nonverbal thoughts.’ Davis concluded.
There will be a several public programs presented in conjunction with the exhibition. On Saturday 22 October (12.30–4pm), the MCA will host the second instalment of the painting-focused talk series Why Painting? Guest speakers will explore the recent histories, current state and possible futures of painting. The series is presented in association with Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. On Thursday evenings in October (5.30–6.30pm) visitors can be inspired by the work of Louise Hearman and create their own atmospheric land and soundscape. The littlest artlovers can also experience the exhibition with Art Baby tours on Thursday 3 November (10.30am–12pm/ 12.30–2pm).
Accompanying the exhibition is a new catalogue with contributions by art critic John McDonald and Curator Anna Davis.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia acknowledges the generosity of Supporting Partner Maddocks.