Building Castles in the Sky
Chloe Vallance manages a minor miracle with each of her little works of art. It is in the long tradition of figurative imagery that this should be done with drawing, with painting and of course photography. But it is the considerable challenge of this genre, this realism, to simultaneously assert that the familiar, though commonplace, is also wonderful. We take an almost absolute availability of imagery for granted within our visually saturated cultures such that a certain ennui and even exhaustion to exposure flaws our perception and our capacity to hold a subject in mind.
Vallance looks on life—on her friends and their companions with their satchels and stuff—lovingly, as if someone must take the responsibility of witnessing the moment and its attendant minutiae despite its apparent mundanity.
There is a modesty of aspect to all of her work, which is usually small, often tiny. The little drawings, paintings and structures are often done on detritus, off-cuts of timber and paper margins, recycled studio and workshop residue. The medium is most frequently various paints and colour pencils, it might seem—as she sits with a fistful of Derwents and Cumberlands—that not much has changed for her since kindergarten.
Ironically though, the thing that I like about Vallances work is its toughness. This is to be seen in the axial dynamic of her brush and pencil stroke. It appears to be completely intuitive—but it is also reinforced by a strong studio work ethic—for she knows when to frame a structure with a longitudinal stroke or consolidate volume with a lateral stroke, when to bind a form tight or soften it against space. There is a disegno interno and a structural calligraphy that attests that despite her contemporaneity she has been a good student of other artists, especially Degas and perhaps Mary Cassatt too.
Several recent sequences of Vallances paintings present diptychs with alternating stenciled spaces; the figure present is now the figure absent, the space described is now the void. These works despite their pop simplicity and their sense of playful jigsaw puzzle design, have a disarming profundity that presents disharmony with pictorial and implied philosophical equilibrium. Presence and absence are pressed into a harmonious duality, rendering opposites apposite and comprehensible. Dichotomies of form and space pictured thus appear nuanced rather than divisional.
This, given the seductive intimacy of all of her work, is a considerable achievement.
Godwin Bradbeer, February 2012
At a time when I was struggling to see clearly, unable to let myself dream, I became interested in how the poetics of space can hold you and allow you to feel safe in a similar way to intimate human relationships. I have focused this exhibition on how our perceptions of houses and other shelters can shape our thoughts, memories and dreams. By creating an installation that infers the artist’s studio, the exhibition itself becomes a playful space for our imagination.
Chloe Vallance is a Melbourne-based artist and is currently a student of the Masters of Fine Art program at RMIT University.
Thank you to all my friends for sharing your light, you unknowing help me dream everyday. And, to the person who inspired me to draw what i love, my sincere thanks to Godwin Bradbeer for his words and his magnanimous presence.
Concurrent Project Space Exhibition:
Us and Them – Umwelten