Submitted Review

Amber Wallis ‘Summoned Paintings’

  • Nicholas Thompson Gallery • Collingwood

  • 07 July—25 July 2020

  • Donald Holt • Published 16 July 2020

I had to go a long way around to get into this exhibition. I resisted the confidence of the artists reflected gaze. The assured sexuality and variety is refreshing but I was reading these paintings against an expectation of biographic notes and I was wrong to do so.

The nude sits absurdly in Manet’s “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe” , introspectively in the bath with Bonnard, violently thrusting with Titian, politicized conjoining with Michael Armitage, sweetly diaristic with Louis Fratino or Salman Toor, powerful like Tamara de Lemika’s women or the unphased and abundant like those of Lisa Yuskavage: we see not acts as noted in the titles of these paintings by Amber Wallis but positionings, not postures.

‘Littered with flirtations through daub & scumble’

That’s the breakthrough in these aqueous layered abstractions, littered with flirtations through daub and scumble. I was fooled by the suggestion of potential figuration but instead we have been shown a space where the action in the painting is either portent and past (or indeed post coital). These are not scenes; they are notes on sensations and projections: not totally carnal but leading to a self-knowing. The confidence demonstrated in these paintings lays here.

The scale of the paintings allows further immersion reinforced but the enclosing volume in the gallery and paced installation. My wish is the exhibition duration was longer, so as to revisit this work after savouring their layering, textures and gestures.

The long way around was further extended by a set of accompanying texts by artists and writers each devoted to a work in the show. These literary shadows provide insights & misdirection that insist that you front up to each work entering them after shedding your preconceptions.

Donald Holt

Online until July 26 in line with COVID protocols.