Submitted Review

Emma Fielden ‘Approaching Zero’

  • Dominik Mersch Gallery • New South Wales

  • 22 October—07 November 2020

  • Eloise Hastings • Published 02 November 2020

  • Commissioned Article

Just as we may feel impelled to lean forward and focus more intensely when a speaker’s voice is exceptionally soft, equally Emma Fielden’s current show, with her precision and fixation on minute details, beckons us to look all the more closely.

In the beautifully subtle series ‘Almost Nothing, Almost Everything’, through a synthesis of emptiness and fullness Fielden again shares her exploration into infinite and infinitesimal phenomena. This time on paper with dense repetitive fields of hand-drawn zeros or conversely minuscule threads of zeros, all with a fate positioned around a decimal point or a singular 1. Perfectly scaled pieces that unavoidably at a distance hint at Malevich’s black square, or even up close, Agnes Martin’s adoration to lines. So elegant and minimal.

Across the space, in possibly an equally challenging gesture of drawing 800,000 zeros, we can view the seven-hour durational and performative video piece ‘Dialogue’. Two fellow artists offering a hypnotic chipping away with titanic effort on a Lee Ufan-esque limestone boulder. In a transformative attempt to convert it into a pile of rubble.

‘…delectable deep-fried and perfectly crinkled papadums’

With the ‘Confluence’ diptychs we see pools of Japanese Sumi ink, more familiar in its diluted form as the tool of calligraphers. Yet for Fielden her delicate pouring of the undiluted resin-heavy ink transforms sheets of paper into sculptural forms. As though delectable deep-fried and perfectly crinkled papadums. Complete with dollops of Ad Reinhardt syrup almost connecting the pair across a gorge.

Whilst the individual works may all appear as single acts they are in fact coherent transformative acts that reveal the rich thinking and expression of inwardness in Fielden’s work. All offering conscious and concrete representations of the notion of transition, just like that elusive and contemplative state between zero and beyond that keeps us all wondering.