CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to announce Emma Bennett’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery.
Bennett is well known for her sumptuous paintings that set figurative elements against black, monochromatic grounds. Potentially incongruous elements might be included in any singular piece including flowers; fruit; fire; water; fabric; or game; and more recently interior objects and details including lamps, table tops, curtains, stairs, alcoves and mirrors. Any indication of dissonance, however, is assuaged by fundamental, underlying interpretation and superlative compositional awareness. Bennett’s use of memento mori is well documented, as she intelligently navigates traditional motifs in combination with alternative, contemporary imagery derived from film and photography.
The ephemeral and intangible are relentlessly depicted, and now in combination with notions of place, as well as time. There is a foreground and background; and movement through, from or within a tangible space is suggested by stairs or mirrors that lead the eye around the picture plane. Presence, or rather absence, is effortlessly evidenced. These more spatial paintings suggest film settings and Bennett’s love of cinema is palpable within this collection. Referencing Laura Mulvey’s discourse on film in ‘Death 24x a Second’, where she suggests film ‘combines, perhaps more perfectly than any other medium, two human fascinations: one with the boundary between life and death and the other with the mechanical animation of the inanimate’ , we come to appreciate how creators throughout history have continued to meditate on the fundamentals of existence.
Bennett takes this interrelation between painting and film further:
‘I am looking at film stills, not so much because of the subject matter or narrative of the film, but rather because of their likeness to the places that exist within my memories. And now, my black void like spaces are reminiscent of the cinema auditorium.’
Questions about what might be, or have been, intonate dream or reverie, where reality and imagination coalesce to suggest misremembered places that were once populated by loved ones, now departed in one manner or another. Absence might denote an end, but Bennett would rather assert a continuum, where people, places, relationships, and memories evolve and endure.