Luncheon on the Grass, 2016, quadriptych, oil on canvas
STEVENSON is pleased to present Deborah Poynton’s eighth solo exhibition with the gallery, titled Picnic.
In this series of paintings and drawings, Poynton imagines the picnic as a metaphor for exploring concepts of pleasure, containment and freedom. These verdant scenes in secluded settings oscillate between hyperrealism and abstraction, underpainting and the unpainted; exposing the logic of their making and pointing to the illusory nature of the painted image.
I have painted this series of ‘picnic paintings’ because I like the idea that both picnics and paintings are fantasies about pleasure. A picnic can be an allegory for a perfect, imaginary place where beauty and pleasure abound. A painting is the same; a self-conscious framework, a way of being contained, while also tasting a bit of freedom.
In spite of their four edges, these paintings are places with undefined borders. They weave abstraction together with veins of realism, so that the abstract is made more real, and the realism is made more abstract, and it doesn't matter which is which because they are the same and neither is true. Like our conflicting desire for freedom and being held, they are two sides of the same coin.
Paintings are not really free. You might paint a picture to try to express a sense of wonder, as a response to being alive. But in trying to paint it, you inevitably domesticate it. It’s a way of consuming the unconsumable, controlling the uncontrollable. But if you imagine going outside, odd sticks, flowers, trees and grasses surround you. You could become more aware of parts of your body. You could become another object on the blanket, to consume or be consumed, and know that you exist. You could be quiet for a moment, and contemplate the idea of pleasure, if not the pleasure itself.
Poynton’s work agitates paradoxes between real and unreal, the pictorial and the perceived. This series brings focus to the acts of looking and being and as such Picnic reveals both the possibilities and limitations inherent in images, and the assumptions underlying how we perceive the world.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 1 September, 6 to 8pm.
A transcript of Poynton's walkabout of her exhibition can be read here: Artist's talk, 2 September 2016.