Anima-Mundi is proud to present ‘Pneuma’, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Joy Wolfenden Brown (b. 1961, Lincolnshire).
These paintings simultaneously confront and disarm the viewer, yet, as the title of the exhibition suggests, ‘Pneuma’ is brimming with a delicate breath of life, where the ritualistic process of making flows continuously from the artists' subconscious, as a visual reflection of her life, emotion and perception.
This collection of exquisitely intuitive, intimate small and larger scale oil paintings are infused with renowned sensitivity to absorb the physical and emotional world that surrounds and precedes the present moment. Suggestions of strength combined with fragility, vulnerability and solitude rest beneath the ethereally layered and unmannered surface of each work. The body language often appears awkward, guarded, as if attempting to close the breach created through the wide eyed protagonist, offering a window in to the soul of the subject, the artist and in turn, ourselves.
‘He brought me into a spacious place’ Psalm 18:19
Painting is a prayer which sets my hearts’ compass to a new path. If the walls around my heart attempt to close in, painting paves a way towards an opening door. Sometimes the paintings darken and the figure becomes obscured, hidden or lost. Painting doesn’t skirt around this but picks it’s way through, recording each step along the way. In the earlier stages of this body of work, the process felt like excavating or scratching away at an archaeological dig, as if searching to uncover ancient fragments or hidden treasures from the past.
The tiny paintings which evolved inspired me to seek out images of ruined frescoes from the Renaissance. The damaged and poorly restored frescoes have always captivated me more than the perfect, highly decorative ones. I love the way the faces and hands are often the last fragments to remain; surrounded by spaces of crude plaster, which seems not only to provide a hint of history and layers of passing time but a beautiful sense of spaciousness from which and into which the figure can breathe.
‘Pneuma’, a Greek word meaning breath or spirit, is a gentle word which describes a sense being filled or lifted from within. Breathing and a feeling of openness around the heart, of being born aloft and carried or wooed into a spacious place, are all feelings which have accompanied me and been channelled into this body of work.
Joy Wolfenden Brown, 2018