Mercier condenses, layers and re-assembles visual imagery to create fragmented idyllic landscapes of Romantic escapism. Eason strips away all background reference, instead focusing in on detailed subjects and motifs with obsessive precision. Yet their works emote a shared nostalgia for an idealised past. Utilising classical, luxurious, exotic and romantic motifs to conjure up distant and undefined representations of the past, these artists ask us to question our relationship with and beliefs about that imagined world.
Using motifs as varied as toucans, fountains and swimming pools, Eason’s imagery conjures up widescreen, dream-like vistas wherein objects exist within undefined geographical scale and time. Drawings of crudely cut, low-resolution photos sourced online evoke discussion on our relationship with ‘real’, in an ever more hyperreal universe.
The imagery and themes used within Eason’s work have in part been inspired by vaporwave, a music genre which critiques and parodies elitism and consumerism and has a nostalgic fascination for classical artefacts, the hyperreal and exotic objects. While there are reasons to assess Eason’s work as a critique of imbalance, there is also a sense of nostalgia and appreciation of the beautiful, romanticised world that is ultimately out of our reach.
Mercier collects diverse images ranging from 17th and 18th Century Romantic landscape etchings to hand-tinted Victorian photographs and postcards of alpine hotels. Although somewhat disparate both visually and historically, these images are unified by their idealised depictions of their subject (be it nature or architecture) and Mercier uses this common thread to combine the visual languages they represent throughout her practice. The results are fictional, ‘collaged’ landscapes and scenes, composed of many fragments of existing etchings, often seamlessly interwoven with flowing waterfalls, interpreted by the artist as the ‘Romantic Glue’ holding the referenced works together.
Influenced by Romanticism and the Sublime, the melancholic worlds created, undefined by time or space, merge references to the past with futuristic propositions. In doing so, they present a timeless yearning for escapism through the portrayal of a fragmented yet beautiful ideal, whilst also exploring the mysterious, abysmal and the uncanny that often lurks behind idylls.