1/65 Murray St, Hobart Ends today
Price range: $9500 — $11,000
Prudence Flint paints women. It’s an interesting tactic. In many traditions of painting, it’s permissible to have a male figure that stands in for all humanity, whereas Flint is painting a world that is solely feminine.
Her ladies are striking. Working in oils, she depicts large, strong people with distinctive, even sharp features who seem potentially powerful and certainly very capable. In previous works, she portrays the figures doing something, sometimes a traditional women’s pastime such as sewing. Flint celebrates women and their world.
She paints in a distinctive fashion, using a palette of colour that has its origins in the faded, muted tones we might encounter in neat, small motel rooms, or at the country home of an older relative who has never lived in the city. The style of her work suggests that it exists more in a mental landscape than anywhere real.
In this new series of images, Flint goes somewhere else. It’s called The Wake, and there’s a particular emotional heaviness that seeps from the work. What happens when someone close to you dies?
Well, along with the rush of emotions and the overwhelming loss, we get on with it. There are things to be done, and life is relentless, and death is a very big event. The Wake describes this strange, challenging and weighty mental space by showing what it is to be inside it. Flint takes us to an emotional country of mourning where the devastation of personal loss is immediate. A wake usually occurs soon after someone has died, and the new status quo of the person’s absence is balanced out by the overwhelming weight of their presence in one’s thoughts. Yes, they are gone, but we cannot stop thinking about them. Across all the works, Flint’s women appear arrested in contemplation, possibly overwhelmed and we can feel them wondering how to proceed with their nowaltered existence. Some figures are by themselves, while others lie on blankets with someone, their eyes never meeting, the awkwardness of communication in difficult circumstances expertly suggested.
It seems obvious that the artist herself has been through a significant period of mourning and these works emerged from it. They’re intense because of what they portray, and how deeply palpable that is. The works exude very complex emotion. Somehow Flint captures an important sensibility, not simply mourning but acceptance and the realisation that life itself continues.