In ‘Present Continuous’, Flora Whiteley presents new paintings that continue her investigation into filmic and stage-like spaces, combining layers of source material to create enigmatic, suggestive scenes. Using a collage aesthetic, Whiteley has collected and de-contextualised source-images, creating ‘quiet moments between the action’, empty rooms and figures in ambiguous activity slowed to the moment before standstill. The work draws on source-material combining personal artefacts with a broad range of found images: holiday snaps, film stills, newspaper cuttings, art history books. The resulting paintings are ambiguous, not depicting any clear sequence of events. What they share is a sense of slowness, verging on stillness depicted in dimly glowing colour.
The starting point for ‘Present Continuous’ is the point at which art, artifice and reality intertwine. Among the references used is documentation from 1980s’ West German art and theatre workshops (Jugendkunstschule). Whiteley has also taken inspiration from the final scenes of of Francois Truffaut’s 1966 dystopian science fiction film, Fahrenheit 451. These scenes depict the Book People, a community of outlaws who memorise entire works of literature, rescuing them from a world in which all books are burnt. The Book People wander the landscape, quietly reciting. When they meet they refer to one another by the name of the work that they have memorised. Their own identity has become subsumed by their Book; they are both isolated by and brought together by this dedication to the written word. As in Whiteley’s paintings, fiction has become indistinguishable from reality.
Flora Whiteley was born in Oxford, UK, in 1977, and currently lives in Berlin, Germany. She studied for her BA (Hons) Fine Art at Newcastle University, Newcastle (1998-2002) and MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2008). Her first solo exhibition for Vane was ‘Through dark glasses’ (2008). Other solo exhibitions include ‘Kammerspiele’, September, Berlin, (2014). Group shows include ‘Ten’, Vane, Newcastle upon Tyne, ‘Beyond the Goldmine Standard’, RPM, Newcastle upon Tyne (2015), ‘Winter Show’, September, Berlin, ‘Old Master Dialogues’, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, ‘Suppose An Eyes’, Galerie Futura, Berlin, touring to Transition Gallery, London, and Vane, Newcastle upon Tyne, ‘Luminous Language’, Launch F18, New York, USA (2013).