Christine Polowyj

Falling Down Like A Woman

November 24 - December 7, 2012

Christine Polowyj’s eagerly anticipated new body of work documents her tumultuous experiences of the past few years. The title of the exhibition, Falling Down Like a Woman, was inspired by something the artist’s toddler daughter, Aurora, “came out with when flopping about the place and rolling off the couch.” Aurora was referring to an incident in the film of Dr Seuss’s The Lorax she’d recently watched, but to Polowyj it seemed particularly apt in describing her own circumstances. She describes her current art practice as being linked to time availability, the juggling of the roles of artist and single mother. “The resulting works are somewhat simplified, bold and immediate,” says Polowyj. “Things are looser. I used to want to control so much. Having less time to contemplate as I go, I meditate before entering the studio, framing my focus in an abstract way.”

Polowyj is a kind of intuitive investigator of form. Specific narrative has been suppressed in favour of a language of sensation that draws us into her intriguing tableaux vivants. Reflecting on the recurring animal imagery in her works, Polowyj explains that it is essentially about the ears: the shape, the form. The animals, along with her bird creatures, also embody mythic and psychological attributes. In the painting Subjugate, we find an owl pinioned and its internal skeletal structure all exposed. “I think the work is about the righteous being dominated by the opportunistic,” continues Polowyj. “ The owl, wise, waits despite being turned inside out: a stealthy confidence presides.” Conversely, the rabbit is associated with vulnerability, timidity and a nervy disposition. A rabbit lives by its wits, long twitching ears ever alert to possible threat. “I guess these animals are two sides of a coin, the coin being me,” smiles Polowyj. 

Continuing her self-referential exploration of the human condition, the painting Capital Venture depicts a yellow and white duck attempting to drink from a puddle - the proverbial pool of reflection. It has no eyes, “blind to its environment but inwardly seeing.” Alongside, a curious figure in extreme stilettos promotes a kind of dominatrix connotation. Those ominously black gloves signify that the sorting out of a difficult situation will most certainly necessitate “getting one’s hands dirty.” For Polowyj, the figure is symbolic of fulfillment gained through pain, in the sense of an ensuing spiritual growth. “Again, a two-sided coin deal,” states Polowyj. Of the attendant, upright triangles, she says they represent aspirations, potential and truth, while providing compositional stability. Her use of anthropomorphic imagery and capricious abstraction might engender an impression of human distance and withdrawal but in the chromatic richness we perceive an irrepressible love of living.

“I don't consciously think about what I'm going to paint,” offers Polowyj. “And I’ve learned to surrender preconceived notions of a conclusion. I create more spontaneously this way and I suppose the use of oils rather than acrylics helps, there is a nice fluidity about them.” The intense colours have a sense of trying to break loose. Reinforcing the impact of the vibrating hues is Polowyj’s direct painting technique. The bold marks of her scraper and brush have become a declaration of the artist’s quest for personal and creative freedom. She is ready to tell all, there is nothing to hide, nothing to cover up. The purpose of Polowyj’s art is not to create a picture of something, the picture itself must be something - a kind of organism that lives according to its own whacky law. 

Polowyj’s paintings are bursting with passion and celebrate the triumph of durability, a refusal to be laid low for too long. Her shapes ad colours have become symbols for human determination operating against every kind of diversity. She faces negative experience and ultimately understands it as part of the process of living. “The outcomes I have achieved are largely due to my experience, which is a great feeling,” Polowyj muses. “I guess that's what Falling Down Like A Woman is about too: being proud of achievements in the context of the conditions they are attained.”


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