AboutThere are two distinct phases in a sunset. At first, the sun acts as an architect. Only later (when its rays are reflected and not direct) does it become a painter. As soon as it disappears behind the horizon, the light weakens, thus creating planes of vision which increase in complexity with every second. Broad daylight is inimical to perspective, but between day and night there is room for an architecture which is as fantastic as it is provisional. Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, 1955
CHARLIE SMITH london is delighted to present Kiera Bennett in her first one person exhibition at the gallery.
Bennett is an elusive painter who adopts the tenets of early Modernism in order to paint the experience of contemporary life. Using as a starting point the everyday activities of an artist, Bennett begins with personal experience and the feelings that come with it. The fallible, the ridiculous and the romantic are wryly observed as functions such as smoking, painting, lying around or partying become subject matter that is autobiographical and which is filtered through an instinctive selection process. This is defined by form and by a compulsion to make the fleeting and the fugitive permanent and immovable.
However, Bennett's works are abstractions of that original experience, and through a process of reduction become paintings about painting. The formal attributes lead us superficially to early 20th century Modernism, but help to affirm a constant and cyclic relationship between Modernist and Postmodernist doctrines. Bennett adopts strategies of early Cubism by simplifying form into line and swathes of colour with striations, and by making numerous drawings and paintings of the same subject, which through initial observation and then repetition lead her to the ultimate rendition. A defined moment can become almost unidentifiable and each painting is current, timeless, and exists in acknowledgement of that which has been before and that which is yet to come.
The emotive nature of the initial experience is of utmost importance to the artist, where a simple function becomes a gateway to a complexity of thought and feeling. Introspection, self-indulgence, escapism, nostalgia, identity, fantasy and reality are just some of the notions that Bennett relates to that original stimulus. But as she proceeds the painting becomes a cypher, symbolic of that first event and its related values. In place of the original meaning we are presented with line, shallow depth and confused space, providing an imagined psychological space that is fractured and dynamic.