It’s not normal programming anywhere at the moment, but I put a lot of work into preparing for this exhibition; Shape Shifting, so I will keep sharing about it here. I figure it’s a good a time as ever to be distracted by the Arts!
Below is a catalogue essay written by Helen McKenzie, which gives some insight into the this body of work and my thoughts behind it. As always please get in touch with any questions. And stay safe and well, wherever you are.
Jasmine Mansbridge’s 2020 exhibition Shape Shifting is both brave and restrained; the best of human qualities. The works in Shape Shifting and those in her last show, Your Turn the Moon, are alike in that they are true to Jasmine’s form, arresting and meticulous. In Shape Shifting Mansbridge builds on her last body of work with confidence and speaks to change. “The fundamental, universal and underpinning experience of all living things is change, metamorphosis and evolution. Even inanimate objects have it thrust upon them. So, why do we resist it, why is it painful, why do we find the unknown so uncomfortable? What are we, if we are not moving, growing, ageing, learning? Seeking and discovering, being challenged and rising to meet the demands of new times and new ways of being and thinking,” she says.
Mansbridge has created her own saddle bag of symbolism; shapes and geometric devices that she uses as a language to unpack the questions she is exploring. Triangles deal with introspection. The cubic ‘thought catchers’ are about engagement on another level, shared and collective experiences, “like being in church, a place of shared contemplation. A place where you are allowed to consider the wider world and your place in it,” says Jasmine. “There is also the three-point portal, reminiscent of stained-glass windows in a church, where while you are looking out, you are also looking in.”
And then there is her use of stairs.
These are the iconographic images she takes with her – part of a language of shorthand that let the viewer into her world.
In 2019 Jasmine travelled, at first to Europe and then to Ethiopia. The experiences were disparate, from Europe she took; indulging in the luxury of seeing first-hand art and architecture that had for decades held her fascination from afar. In Ethiopia she gave. As part of a team delivering a community art project.
The work titled savage geometry-eat me like francis bacon did is Jasmine’s reaction to a Francis Bacon exhibition. “I confess that having only seen Bacon’s work in books I was astounded by the great wave of emotion and connection it elicited in me. I felt like it “ate” me alive. So then, when thinking of my own paintings I felt this would be my new benchmark going forward. That the highest praise would be that the paintings elicit powerful emotional responses and that beyond technique or subject matter that the ‘feeling’ that emanates from my work would be of most importance.”
Venice is the historic epicentre of drama for all the senses. It is a mecca for lovers of beauty and produces a longing in visitors that is difficult to explain. For Jasmine her all too brief visit gave her a lifetime of questions to bring to her art. two nights in venice is Mansbridge’s response to the city. “I was meant to have longer in Venice, but storms, delays and airport flooding meant I only stayed for two nights. In Venice I was reminded of the relatively long timeline of human history, compared to my personal life expectancy. What remains? I asked myself, when I am gone, and for how long? My art will outlive me as the city of Venice outlives all its citizens. And it is possible that Venice will not last forever and is challenged by rising tides and tourists like me, for the time being it remains a monument to all things timeless and beautiful.”
True to her nature Mansbridge’s work is not all angst. The work peggy, aperol spritz and smiths crisps is playful and fun loving and a recognition that moments make up days and ultimately, lifetimes. Pleasure is there for the taking. Jasmine says, “this work is my capture of the sensory and visual pleasure that was a summer day in Venice. Sitting in the sun, the Guggenheim on the canal and how it felt that in that moment, anything was possible. That if I could dream this and do it, then surely other wonderful things could follow. My heart was full of optimism and the joy of the present.”
Jasmine commenced her artistic contemplation of change before the impact of prolonged drought conditions, widespread bushfires and a viral pandemic were brought to bear on the country. For some the consequence of these disasters was devastation, for everyone else it brought some form of unwelcome change. On a personal level Shape Shifting’s formal opening scheduled for 26 March has been cancelled, a sign of the challenging and uncertain times for artists too. Go to Studio Gallery Group website www.studiogallerymelbourne.com.au to view the works or enquire directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Savage geometry-Eat me like francis bacon did. Framed. Acrylic on linen. 80 x 80 cm
I was fortunate to see a Francis Bacon exhibition in London and whereas previously I was nonchalant about his work, in person I felt a great wave of emotion and connection to it. I felt like it “ate” me alive. So then, when thinking of my own paintings I felt this would be my new benchmark going forward. That the highest praise would be that the paintings elicit powerful emotional responses and that beyond technique or subject matter that the “feeling” that emanates from my work would be of most importance.
Two nights in Venice.framed in white timber. 80 x 80
I was meant to have longer in Venice, but storms, delays and airport flooding meant I only stayed for two nights. In Venice I was reminded of the relatively long time line of human history, compared to my personal life expectancy. What remains? I asked myself, when I am gone, and for how long?. My art will out live me as the city of Venice outlives all its citizens. And though even Venice it seems, will not last forever and is challenged by rising tides and tourists like me, for the time being it remains a monument to all things timeless and beautiful.
Peggy, aperol spritz and smiths crisps. framed in white wood. acrylic on linen. 80 x 80 cm.
This work is my capture of the sensory and visual pleasure that was a summer day in Venice. Sitting in the sun, the Guggenheim on the canal and how it felt that in that moment, anything was possible. That if I could dream this and do it, then surely other wonderful things could follow. My heart was full of optimism and the joy of the present.
Shape shifting. acrylic on marine ply. framed in vic ash. 150 x 150 cm.
This painting is one of my three point portal works, in which the set of triangles draw the eye inwards. I wanted to experiment with the structure and literally shift the shapes. If there is emotion in motion, then this was my aim in this work. To embody the feeling of change. The feeling of a fixed centre while all everything else is literally “in the air”.
The elephant in the room. white timber frame.acrylic on linen. 80 x 80 cm.
How do elephants get into rooms? They eat all the unsaid words, they feast on feelings no one has room to digest. I am glad I get to paint my elephants. Paint out my thoughts and feelings. Yet in a way this makes them all the more the elephant, for if we can’t speak of elephants in paintings then what more is left for us to do? So how does this change? How do we starve the elephant until it is so small it no longer exists either in real time, or in our heads?
Mechanical love. framed in white timber.acrylic on linen. 80 x 80
What underpins humanity? Separates us from machines? If anything, it would be the capacity for love, for feeling, for emotion. So, what of mechanical love? Love on auto pilot, a kind of love perhaps scientists can build an algorithm for, a formula, a broken down step by step manual which can be taught. If then, our technology can learn that love, then does this change the world again? Or will there always be room for love that is madness. The love of fools, dreamers, teenagers, the lucky and delirious one.
Pulled in to you. framed in white wood. acrylic on linen. 80 x 80 cm
The three point portals (triangles), always ask for introspection. In this work being “pulled into you” is also about being pulled into oneself. The thing with human connection is that when it is at its most potent it hints at a connection also to self. To some unseen recognition, the desire to mirror one’s own heart in another.
Apollo vs Dionysus 1 & 2. framed with white edge/timber. 100 x 100cm
My curiosity around “Order vs Chaos” is a long standing one. Because our existence sits in the balance of both. In Greek mythology, Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of the sun, of rational thinking and order and Dionysus is the god of wine and dance, of irrationality and chaos. So these two paintings pay homage to this pair and what it means to be human and to accept that one can not exist without the other.
Love Light acrylic on linen/102x102cm/2019
In all processes of change there are times when the path ahead is not clear. I have struggled with this as I am someone who likes control. You can see this in my paintings, in the attention to detail and the neat lines and shapes. The only reliable way to navigate tough and uncertain times then, as far as I can see, is to follow the light. To choose the good or the right thing. To love the light, the light that can be found in every small decision and in every next step and in this case the light within the painted space in this painting.
LOVE LONG- acrylic on linen/100x100cm/2019
In this painting the cube with its three point portals cut out, sits suspended in its own space. To “love long” being a challenge set apart from all others. Perhaps the greatest and most challenging metamorphosis of all is this, the one of the long lasting, intimate, personal relationship. To love long in a time of fast societal change and a premium being on personal evolution.
Take me from point A to point B . Acrylic on Linen. framed, 275 x 204 cm
I love large scale paintings for their ability to create small and perfectly controlled worlds. Which you feel you can walk into. In a way they are painted versions of the ones I made from cardboard boxes as a child. It is in a utopian world such as this one, that point A and point B are always clear. But, in the real world it is not so simple as so often the best laid plans go astray.
Shedding Skin.- acrylic on linen, framed 150 x 150 cm
In the natural world change is accepted as a part of the process of existence. Take the lobster, the butterfly and the snake for example, without the periods of great vulnerability and discomfort all these creatures would die. So this painting is a visual nod to the shedding skin of skin, to accepting that without losing the old there is no new. That we are all just passing through, to think of the bigger picture and accept all things as they are.
The Hunger Games . Set of three 50 x 50 cm acrylic on board.
All change is preceded by a hunger of sorts, an internal dissatisfaction and disturbance that eventually can not be ignored. When the desire for change becomes more pressing than the comfort of the present, then before you know it the “hunger games” begin. The structures in the paintings represent the past, present and future and our connection to all three.
Thanks for stopping by …
You can see my previous Your Turn For The Moon catalogue here.
Perhaps you will have time to work on our own creative projects while we all bunker down. Let me know what you make if you do!
Clip by http://alexanderandvincent.com