Saturday, 29 May 2010

EMMA BENNETT: 'Death & Co.' at CHARLIE SMITH london

Private View
Thursday June 3rd 6.30pm–8.30pm

Exhibition Dates
Friday June 4th – Saturday July 3rd 2010

Gallery Hours
Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm or by appointment

CHARLIE SMITH london is delighted to present Emma Bennett’s first one person show at the gallery.

Drawing on her previous paintings of still life elements set against expansive void-like grounds, Bennett proposes a contemplation on time, space and the fragility of the human condition. Underlined by a wistful acknowledgement of the sublime and the tragic, Bennett embraces the notion of the memento mori in her delicate application of appropriated imagery combined with expressive techniques derived from 20th century abstract painting.

In ‘Death & Co.’ Bennett continues to excavate 17th and 18th century Dutch painting for figurative motifs. She now turns her attention from images of hunted game that populated her previous work towards the maritime painting of Willem van de Velde, Jan Porcellis or Hendrik Jacobsz Dubbels. In doing so, Bennett’s monochromatic grounds become representational spatial fields, at once figurative and abstract, with sailing ships appearing from or receding into night time nothingness. As the artist states:

“The vessels appear to be travelling into the void-like space of the canvas. These ships represent individual journeys through life and reflect on the isolated state of people as they make their journeys, whether through passages of calm waters or treacherous high seas.”

Solitude, the passage of time, and a sense of becoming are alluded to, as are notions of value systems and materiality. Referring to the Dutch Golden Age, in which international trade and enterprise established the Netherlands as a world power, Bennett subverts conventional notions of wealth and emasculates historical power systems by freighting imperial ships with beautifully rendered still life fruits and flowers. Thus, in this fascinating new series of paintings, Bennett questions the ascendency of commerce in relation to historical methods of colonial exploitation and undermines its use of authority and dominance.

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