OTHER WISE 2020

November 15, 2020 

An Online Exhibition

Catalogue Essay by Kate Alida Mullen

Moment by moment, we enact or bring forth our world through sensorimotor interplay with space. In other words, our experiences of reality are composed of and determined by the multilayered sets of relations we hold with the human and non-human life forms eddying within our orbits.

This understanding is, in essence, an Indigenous one. In speaking from an Indigenous Australian perspective, Professor Mary Graham describes traditional Aboriginal relationality as one that ‘embraced uncertainty and imprecision’, ‘consented to being driven by feeling’, ‘accepted and made room for conflict’ and, ultimately, ‘lived as if not only groups, but all […] are autonomous beings.’ [1]

Dense though these entanglements are, the newest series of paintings by Western Australian artist Jordy Hewitt - Other Wise - piercingly, lucidly distills from the mire specific aspects or points of intersection. This set of six expanded colour fields, each one comprised of four horizontal planes, invites us to encounter - from a higher vantage point - a cross-section of the archetypal complexities that are alive within us.

These opulent compressions, in all their dynamism and electricity, offer viewers a standpoint that is both rich and spacious. Here, we see Hewitt expand upon earlier bodies of works occupied with decoding more subtle energetic traces and psychological spaces; Hewitt now springboards into the astral. With this departure, comes an intensification of her note range.

Chronicled in oil and wax are a set of pre and postnatal exchanges, transmitted between the artist and her second child as she came in to being. The amorous blushes of Other Wise I, for instance, produced in 2019 during Hewitt’s second pregnancy, emanate with the presence of Eros, the Greek God of love associated with fertility and desire. To what extent did this soul, enfolded and unfolding inside Hewitt’s body and field over this passage of time, influence the outcome of these murals?

As the series progresses, these effusive tableaus begin to contrast with more subterranean and stormier forecasts. The works hold strong as vestiges of the solace and reprieve Hewitt sought inside her studio throughout the personal and collective upheavals of 2019 – 2020, as well as signal the artist’s ongoing process of adaption to these shifting landscapes.

As an ensemble, Other Wise crafts a symphony, and symphonies within symphonies, that are high in drama and somatic affect. The enduring qualities of the sound and colour bath educed by these transversal planes can perhaps only be conjured, in earnest, through a methodical act of surrendering one’s body as channel.

Parameters around the practice of revolutionary Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944) come to mind. During a séance in 1906, af Klint received clear directives from beings referred to in her diaries as ‘High Masters’, instructing her to undertake a major commission of spiritual paintings. In describing how these guides worked through her in the studio, af Klint wrote: ‘The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely.’ [2] Hewitt’s instinctive mixing of tones and application of bristles pledges an allegiance with the spirit of af Klint.

The artist as channel in this way, hands automated by unseen forces, challenges historical notions that artistic credence is based solely on intentionality. In Other Wise, Hewitt divines that it is in the balance and the tensions between these modes of working that inner and outer worlds, and the worlds within those worlds, may be, in the artist’s words, ‘discovered in the act of making’.

With each new series, we see Hewitt access and harness in her making, more and more deftly, an ancient form of mind-body-spirit intelligence. The source of this same way of knowing glimmers in Graham’s words on Indigenous perspectives of interconnectedness, just as it resonates within the yielding methodology of af Klint.

 

[1] Graham, Mary, ‘Aboriginal Notions of Relationality and Positionalism’, Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2014, pp. 17 – 18.

[2] Horowitz, David Max, ‘The World Keeps You In Fetters; Cast Them Aside: Hilma af Klint, Spiritualism and Agency’, Hilma af Klint – Paintings for the Future, Guggenheim Museum Publications: New York, 2018, p. 130.







 

 

 


 

Top left: Other Wise II, 2019-20, oil and wax on canvas, 126 x 95 cm
Top centre: Other Wise III, 2019-20, oil and wax on canvas, 126 x 95 cm
Top right: Other Wise VI, 2020, oil and wax on canvas, 126 x 95 cm
Centre: Other Wise, 2019, oil and wax on canvas, 152 x 130 cm
Bottom left: Other Wise V, 2020, oil and wax on canvas, 171 x 140.5 cm
Bottom right: Other Wise IV, 2019-20, oil and wax on canvas, 171 x 140.5 cm

 

 

Click individual painting for more details