Ledge Point 2015

August 1 - 16, 2015

Moana Project Space, Perth

Catalogue Essay by Lydia Bradshaw

Jordy Hewitt’s Ledge Point is a collection of abstract oil paintings that deal with emotional themes. In these works, emotions appear in dualism, and the emotional world is depicted as contested ground where passions shift and contend. Fields of colour represent duelling decisions, possibilities and futures, that combine to create images of anticipation and anxiety. This work is developed through an exploratory and personal process, and the paintings express the artist’s struggle for interior balance.

In this way, these paintings recall the 20th century psychoanalyst Carl Jung. In his writings, Jung encouraged his patients to visually transcribe their interior lives through psychoanalytic treatment, as an attempt to make the contents of the unconscious accessible. Similarly, Ledge Point is the product of a cathartic, process driven exercise, that aims to discover and unearth.

Jung also considered the generation of chance and automatistic expression to be restricted by adherence to formal artistic traditions. In Hewitt’s work, the abstract techniques of heroic Modernist painting are employed to this end. Hewitt considers that if there is no revelation or discovery in her process she has failed. These works are emotionally rather than intellectually driven, and accomplished through the play of instinct and inner need. They express a striving to represent what usually lies beyond the conceivable, and towards what is achievable only in the un-planned.

This approach recalls that of a number of artists throughout the Modern period. Master of perceived abstraction, Mark Rothko, in his expressly anti-formalist claim, insisted that he was interested only in expressing basic human emotions, and that color relationships are irrelevant. Likewise, Paul Klee considered that above all it was the desire of the surrealists to make chance essential, embracing primal law and feeding growth.

With this process in mind, we can relate Hewitt’s use of oscillating tones and indistinct colour fields to depicting an emotional state where the artist’s passions play out. Here in the interior landscapes created by Hewitt, passions, such as the fear of death, love, or anxiety, as well as dormant aspects of personality, can find synthesis and balance. They testify to the grounding and transformative potential of art production. Much like Rothko, and in keeping with automatist philosophy, Hewitt engulfs the viewer in the absorbing meta-physicality of paint while living out the imperatives of the self.

This series of works is not purely atmospheric however, they express a sort of tension with landscape. In a technical sense, the hard horizontal divides between colour fields suggest that these would-be colour field paintings are really, formally, landscapes, an entirely different artistic tradition. In a thematic sense, the title of the series, Ledge Point, a geographical analogy, confirms this problematisation. Ledge Point refers to a bleak sandy point on the Western Australian coast. In the name itself, Hewitt deepens this analogy. Like the interior emotional worlds of her paintings, this is a landscape that is teetering on the edge, it is a jumping-off point, a precipice. This tension with landscape is unresolved, and perhaps in a philosophical sense, it suggests the wider unresolved tension between the interior, emotive world, and the chaos and violence that the outer world can impress on it.

In any case, as viewers of these abstracts, we should not expect a translation into purely conceptual language. When colour signifies anything, it also always signifies something that is inexpressible in language. Inevitably and necessarily, detailed linguistic explanations will be lacking. In our experience of ‘Ledge Point’, we must acknowledge the foreign and, to some extent, leave conceptions of familiarity aside. What we do find in these pictures, however, is an experience of liminal non-space and a generous, honest, invitation into the artist’s personal world.