Paul Stolper Gallery is proud to present ‘Jam Rock’, a series of paintings and works on paper by Georgia Hayes. Her subject matter is extensive, spanning both the globe and history, “vectoring through history and myth” and ranging from biblical themes, Adam and Eve, “turning the expulsion from the garden into a two-frame strip out of which the pair skulk, toting dangerous knowledge” ‘Leaving the Garden’ 2015, to images gleaned from her travels, from the Red Light District of Amsterdam ‘Women in Amsterdam ‘Saints, Sinners and Martyrs’ 2015, to archaeological sites in Sicily, ‘Saved by Drowning (Sicilian Fountain)’ 1, 2 and 3, 2013.
None of which though are faithful renderings. “Hayes’s paintings are propositional. They take something many tourists have glimpsed, gift it with close imaginative responsiveness, and upgrade all its registers via what painting’s transformative passagework can accomplish. That is, heat the colours, liquefy physiognomy so that from one image to the next, as in a comic strip, ambiguous but lively feelings blow across faces, make fixed figures cavort by framing them at shifting angles, turn a classical composition into an equivocal living drama that conflates humour, anxiety, suspense, collapses then and now.”
And all painted against an immersive backdrop of a vibrant single colour, a bubble- gum pink, a turquoise, or an acid yellow for example. And on these expanses of colour, figures appear to hover above, or some sit within the field of colour, while angular lines punctuate the canvas, delineating the overall composition, although at times these marks are seemingly deliberate attempts to disrupt any easy reading of her paintings, painted as dotted ‘cut here’ lines.
This play between the colourfield background and foreground, where the story is visually laid out, is clearly displayed in a pair of paintings based on a trip to the West Indies. An essay could be written on the interplays within the Fish Shed paintings, 1 and 2, 2016, that point to human relations, racial relations and man’s dominion over nature; it’d be your essay, though, cued by the open-ended nature of the expressions and dynamics Hayes has limned, her confident, sociable, neo-modernist-plus-South Park composing.
“These are not rhetorical paintings but multileveled confections, playful if edged with tension on top; demonstrating, further down, the reanimating possibilities of vision even where meaning feels most fixed and staged; and, deeper still, considering our relationship, as living humans, to those with which we share the planet.”
(all quotes: Martin Herbert, ‘Caution Horses’, Jam Rock 2016)
A catalogue to accompany the exhibition, with a text by Martin Herbert, is available for sale.