Emily Wolfe’s new series of paintings sees the artist further immerse herself in the traditions and reveries of trompe l’oeil and its charismatic illusory qualities.
A collector of antiquities and curiosities, Wolfe sets broken or discarded objects and materials against backdrops of old master styled landscape paintings, which themselves have the appearance of having been salvaged from the dusty interiors of second-hand stores or boxes destined for garage sales. The artist repeatedly lingers on the subtle details of materials; lace curtains, creased tablecloths, post-it notes stuck to glassy windowpanes. Here, folded sheets of paper in shades of pink, cream and white are tacked over the landscapes with strips of yellowing tape, their edges charmingly uneven or curling upward as if we could reach out and peel them off the surface.
Wolfe draws our attention to the act of image making through these overlapping sheets of paper, simultaneously disrupting and perpetuating the illusion of the image and the nature of its construction as a series of intersecting planes. Small cropped details sit above a larger image. A piece of discarded paper in the foreground mimics the curve of a bent and broken branch in the background. Through a piece of gossamer paper, we glimpse the indistinct features of the landscape behind. Wolfe has long been a devotee to light and shadow, precisely capturing the shafts of early morning sun through a bedroom window; the dappled shadows cast across an interior wall of slightly peeling paint; the subtle change in light that signals the end of another day. Her paintings are heavy with time and absence, embodying the beauty and melancholy inherent in fragmentary moments.
Wolfe expertly conflates time in these works, collapsing it in on itself as if merely by accident instead of careful artifice. Positioned at the boundary between the painted world and the physical one, at the threshold between dream and reality, Wolfe’s delicate paper trails lead us in ever-increasing circles, continuously looping back on ourselves.
Opening: 24 March 2022, 5pm.
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