painting a noun...
David Zwirner is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by British artist Rose Wylie—her first solo presentation in Hong Kong. painting a noun… will include several groups of related paintings and drawings that collectively underscore the importance of memory—as both a fixed and a shifting concept—within the artist’s practice.
Drawing from such wide-ranging cultural arenas as film, fashion photography, literature, mythology, history, news images, and sports, Wylie paints colorful and exuberant compositions that are uniquely recognizable. Frequently using images as a prompt, the artist works primarily from memory, resulting in paintings and drawings that are replete with associative afterimages that remain only loosely tethered to their original referents, but tightly connected to the memories as they have developed over time. In this respect, drawing is an important aspect of Wylie’s practice—once she has selected an image or a topic, she typically makes numerous drawings on that theme as a kind of mnemonic exercise from which her paintings eventually emerge.
Image: Rose Wylie, Spider, 2019 (detail)
“Wylie is always responsive to the currents of the contemporary world around her…. Her engagement with the ‘real’ world is in a style that is direct, honest and at times uncomfortable…. The paintings often offer social commentary—for example, the representation of women in the media—or touch upon pertinent issues in current affairs.” —Clarrie Wallace
Wylie selects her subjects based on how an image—which might come from the internet, a book, or a film—affects her, for example by triggering certain associations or feelings, or striking her as a symptom of contemporary culture. She deliberately chooses subjects that are easily recognizable or familiar—from football stars to celebrities on the red carpet and items in the news [insert example from DZHK show]. Once registered in the artist’s mind, these images can be realized anew through the process of painting.
“I like the specifics of the real world,” she explains, “which does not mean I go for copying it…. To distort or not, or how much, or in what way are the central questions in figurative painting.”
“She draws to achieve a certain likeness to the subject and then paints,” Clarrie Wallace says. “Each painting is planned in great detail, and her particular working methods allow for interpretations and reinterpretations that lend themselves to second thoughts, corrections, re-drawings and re-orderings so that there is a certain nonchalance present in the final work.”
As a result, the artist explains, “The viewer can see a connection in the transformation, which will have taken place… And with the ‘known’ subjects the painting taps into a shared consciousness rather than the private and closed world of the artist.”
“Wylie uses a levelling of perspective, awkward composition and unruly scale, so that no line or gesture is granted more importance than the next, which delivers and enthralling freedom for the viewer. The eye has to re-learn where to go. It has to renavigate the rules of representation by examining how she resurrects subjects to convey her own, very different and idiosyncratic reality.” —Cherry Smyth
“What unites Wylie’s output is a kind of anarchic and satirical attitude or world view, a tongue-in-cheek, subversive spirit that has little time for stuffy hierarchies or bourgeois conventions…. [Her] work is tempered by wit and an acceptance of the world as it is; her paintings reflect how we react and reason in our struggle to make sense of it all.” —Clarrie Wallace