ART RE­VIEWS

THE WAKE

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - UPFRONT -

Pru­dence Flint

Bett Gallery

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.

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