Life Outside 2018

May 18-20, 2018

Assembly Yard, Fremantle

Catalogue Essay by Kate Alida Mullen

‘Be of the heart. Slip out of the head and more towards the heart. Think less, feel more, and finally, even feel less: Be more’

This mantra, taken from a small volume of evening meditations, puts English to what the sky wordlessly urges of us. The chemistry of perpetually morphing light and vapor doming our horizons at once orientates us in space and time, while its amorphous vastness can, at times, prompt a sense of disembodiment - a strangely comforting weightlessness. These sensations are echoed in the experience of Life Outside - the latest body of works by Western Australian artist Jordy Hewitt - in that these paintings benevolently usher us to Be.

The human body’s nervous response to the viewing of abstract painting is examined by prominent 20th century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925 – 1995) in his discourse on the logic of sensation. First, Deleuze makes clear how this specific style of painting dissolves subject and object into one interchangeable mass so that the image depicted is rendered one with the artist’s body and mind. He follows by describing how this, in turn, renders the viewer one with the artist: ‘at one and the same time I become in the sensation and something happens through the sensation, one through the other, one in the other[1]. Though Deleuze speaks primarily in reference to the charged figurative abstractions of his muse Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992), this same phenomenology plays out in the presence of Hewitt’s ethereal world.

This is the sixth in a series of poetically framed solo exhibitions from Hewitt, each one its own emotional and sensory deluge. Of these, Life Outside marks a zenith in the artist’s steady movement towards ‘pure painting’, or pure abstraction. In keeping true to the tradition of abstraction, Hewitt has wielded a finely tuned ode to the movement of matter: That of the paint itself, but also of the unseen molecular matter vibrating in the air between artwork and gaze. The artist gives visual form to that which is non-visible; to ineffable space.

Though soft, almost whispered, are the shades, textures and orb-like entities adrift across the canvases, these works are radical in their minimalism. Their unrestrained, non-literal planes free us of the linear narratives and cerebral readings our minds have been trained to chase. Life Outside grants us the space – a welcome breath – to better engage our less exercised faculties. As we bask in their midst, an understanding of the works’ materiality begins to unfold – its layers of carefully manipulated brushstrokes, the melding of pastel hues with pearlescent lustres – and we are invited to simply take note of the unique set of bodily sensations brought about.

For Hewitt, ‘life outside’ signifies the world beyond the insular, metamorphic realm of Motherhood in which she’s been wrapped since the birth of her firstborn in April last year. Propelled inward by biological marvel, the artist has, of late, been withdrawn from more external elements: People, places, rituals of the past. And so, it is through these paintings that we bear witness to a passage of re-entry; an archetypal graduation from Maiden to Mother, one regarded as sacred by matriarchal societies throughout the ages. These artworks bravely lay bare the artist’s physiological evolution as she inhabits this new position; internal shifts illumed further still when contrasted with the ‘outside’. In this sense, these creations are as bold as they are subtle.

[1]Deleuze, G., Francis Bacon; The Logic of Sensation, Trans. Daniel W. Smith, Minneapolis: Minnesota 2002, Ch. 6 Painting and Sensation, p 31.