In her new collection “Just a number”, Brigitte Polemis questions with humour, issues of conformity and standardization as the effects of industrialisation and globalisation are seeping every aspect of our lives. After years of a semi-utopic state of euphoria fed by the material trappings of economic prosperity, young working men are coming to terms with a new great depression. Her artwork portrays this generation of individuals as faceless figurines, reminiscent of Yiannis Gaitis’s, men in suits, who are dispensable, devoid of their value as unique humans, now posing as numbers within economic units struggling to survive. The theme of repetition adds to the objectification of the human figure in her images and creates a mood of senseless reproduction reflecting our consumer society.
The use of multiple layers of Perspex, become the vehicles for a simultaneous background, middle ground and foreground that enable the artist to switch back and forth with reality and illusion. The use of lined backgrounds, similar to Bridget Riley’s op-art paintings, create an optical illusion as the viewer moves closer, further or along the images. As the eye wonders on the lined patterns, a sense of dizziness is conveyed echoing the feelings of confusion and helplessness in these men appearing static in the outer layers of Perspex. If the viewer’s eye perceives the image as a whole, the male motifs seem surreal as they appear to float in space or create a new image altogether. But as the eye focuses on the outer layers of the image these object like motifs reveal themselves for what they are, men in suits. This constant play with reality and illusion has been associated with Rene Magritte’s work that has informed Brigitte’s recent body of work.