Jodie Wells

Feathers and Fillies

February 15 - February 26 2014

Feathered creatures have been traditionally thought of as mediators between the material and spirit worlds. We delight in these winged creatures for their colours, warbling songs and the ability to soar into the sky away from mundanity and the constrictions of everyday concerns. The horse is a noble, intelligent creature; the very embodiment of power, vitality and speed.

Jodie Wells' feathered and filly subjects are not consciously invested with any profound, symbolic import. They quite simply represent the quest for freedom expressed through a deep engagement with the plasticity of her oil medium. "It was never my intention to paint so many animals as I don't see myself as a nature artist," offers Jodie. "My initial aim was to capture an individual animal's stance on canvas, but having completed the first one I found I could not stop! I realised there were so many more facets to a creature's moods and actions to be explored. Whether they are horses, wild birds or even birds in captivity, they all appear to display a distinctive personality. By observing an animal's posture or body language, I hope to be able to express their spirit and energy."

The paintings of various birds are for the most part small, reflecting the diminutive size of the feathered creatures in comparison to the distinctly robust fillies. "I find birds are an accessible subject," says Jodie. "No matter where you live there is most likely to be birds around. Often looking out a window and seeing a bird is a source of inspiration." These are Australian birds, those one might encounter perched on a branch in the garden or glimpsed when ambling along a bushland path. As the works' titles suggest, Jodie has endeavoured to depict the perceived disposition of her subjects: Inquisitive Peek Cockatiel, Wary Pause Spine Bill, Scrutinise Magpie, Cautious Vigil Blue-Faced Honey Eater, Dainty Perch Superb Fairy Wren. Apart from a few swooping owls, her birds are depicted as stationary and acutely aware of their surrounds, ready to take flight at a moment's notice.

Jodie's horses on the other hand thunder across the canvas with an impasto urgency. It is as if they would break free from their pictorial confinement. "I have always enjoyed painting horses. Because of their size they can seem somewhat domineering but their personalities seem multifaceted, leading to endless painting possibilities. I aim for spontaneous compositions that capture a fleeting event where the subjects seem about to depart the canvas," says Jodie.

The enormous popularity of Jodie's paintings lies in her affable subjects and the direct sensory appeal of their thick, buttery textures. They express a contemporary desire for a more natural state of being; a return to tactility and away from an electronic, virtual reality. Jodie's textures are overtly real, not simulated. We are seduced with surfaces that sparkle as light bounces from the troughs and crests of her palette knife's passage. The dynamism of the markings have endowed the paintings a life of their own.

Jodie Wells' work has been recently acquired by the Gold Coast City Gallery and she has been a finalist in a great number of Art Prizes including: Clayton Utz Art Award, Brisbane, 2012; Stan and Maureen Duke Art Prize, GCCG, 2011; Black Swan Portraiture Prize, Perth, 2011; Lethbridge 10000 Art Award, Brisbane, 2011; Mount Eyre Vineyards Art Prize, Rex-Livingston Gallery, Sydney, 2011; Glover Art Prize, Evandale, Tasmania, 2010; Border Art Prize, Tweed River Art Gallery, 2010; Mortimer Art Prize, 2010; Waterhouse Prize - Works on Paper, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, 2010; Mount Eyre Vineyards Art Prize, Rex-Livingston Gallery, Sydney, 2010; Lethbridge 10000, Lethbridge Gallery, Brisbane, 2010; Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (the EMSLA), Coffs Harbour, 2009; Black Swan Portraiture Prize, Perth, 2009; Border Art Prize, Tweed River Art Gallery, 2008; Black Swan Portraiture Prize, Perth, 2008; Border Art Prize, Tweed River Art Gallery, 2007; Open Art Prize, Royal Queensland Art Society, Gold Coast, 2007.


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