Wet Contact is a solo presentation of new work by Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist Anoushka Akel. A series of oil paintings on stretched and un-stretched canvas sensitively register the artist's acutely attuned attention and active sensations.
the eye that looks at representation is wet;
the air between hangs with droplets;
the brain for figuration is wet;
the ear's drums vibrate all the way through;
the fingers touching the object are budding with tiny moistures.*
Watery bodies, an embrace, a shout, an insistent cry. The collective behaviour of wet birds. The lifting of a shirt to reveal a chest and abdomen. Tear-droplets, wave-forms, teeth and tongues. Protective layers and wobbly lines. Fields of ever-shifting colour. It is difficult to pin-down the subject matter of Akel's paintings. There is felt life, unseen forces and forms... a sense of bodies moving in and out of watery worlds...
Though appearing to be transitory, each painting is in fact the result of material transformation, concrete processes of stretching, staining, rubbing, smearing, even scratching with the sharpened end of a paint-brush. Many of the ways in which Akel applies paint are inspired by the pressure engaged in print-making or print-adjacent processes and techniques, particularly mono-printing. Such forces and activities follow moments of attention both peripheral and direct; hyper-vigilance, distraction, focus and pulling away... moments of human attention that aspire to be non-hierarchical and non-anticipatory. There is intention and selection, noting, hearing and deep listening. Then a shaping of thoughts, the manipulation and layering of paint through improvisational processes of wet touch and transfer.
Akel's liquid architectures, though at first glance delicate with their veils, transparencies and layers, in actuality belie a steely, determined and robust process of capture and delay.
*Lisa Samuels, 'Membranism, Wet Gaps, Archipelago Poetics' in Reading Room: Liquid State__s, issue 4, 2010, p. 157
The artist would like to thank and acknowledge the generous support of Creative New Zealand.
Press release courtesy Michael Lett.
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