Marie Le Lievre's latest project at Jonathan Smart Gallery is quite wonderful. From small paintings on paper to much larger works at the wall, along with a beautifully presented moving image collaboration with Emma Wallbanks, and the title work Sounds (Woo) – a handsome oil on inkjet photographic print – there is everywhere a rich consideration of composition, colour and plenty of woo woo!
An elegant catalogue accompanies the exhibition, and it is with excerpts from the two texts in that publication that I wish to probe further the currency of this show.
Entering the Causeway by Jane Wallace is an evocative and poetic text that exists alongside Marie Le Lievre's work. In the last paragraph she writes:
"The surfaces of Le Lievre's works can be languid, where the oil paint is glossy and slow, and the light tricks the eye and the unreal emerges. I am thinking of the heavy air above hot asphalt, when the relentless stillness warps the horizon stack into matter that is porous and nebulous. It has only ever been an illusion that what the eye can see when it looks as far as possible is a vision that will never change; perpetual shimmer and transformation is all that we can rely on..."
In the other text, Rebecca Nash, having established that the liminal space of Le Lievre's work resides in the way it hovers between realism and abstraction (which is close to the writing of magical realists who work between magic and realism), then goes on to explore notions of the imagination: "Will you expand your imagination to accept the way in which disparate elements co-exist? The poured paint of her 'slip' paintings for example, can mean simply 'this is a process of paint'. It also has a visceral meaning, in that the sensuous, bodily quality of her paint seems to give her works an indeterminate but definite emotional life. That visceral meaning, in turn, connects the work to a viewer's stories and memories, as well as connecting to MLL's stories and memories."
This fluidity of meaning, this nourishing of the imagination she argues "evokes the brain-state of the unconscious mind." The stories, indeed the whole terroir of painting opens from here. And I know that Marie Le Lievre relishes such possibilities.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.