Painting the Sublime focuses on images that offer uncanny and emotionally disorienting glimpses into the human psyche. This type of work speaks to our subconscious desires and fears, of the grotesque and beautiful rooted often in a sensual and haunting stylistic approach to form and medium. Such tensions and anxieties, fuel the mystery of painting that continues to allure and seduce audiences into ambiguous and alternative realities. Selecting artists whose practice embraces such sentiments, the exhibition attempts to produce a multifaceted conversation on the theatre of human intellect, emotion and the possibilities of painting itself.
As a type of psychological liberation of the mind, the sublime as defined by Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) focuses on such terms as darkness, obscurity, privation, vastness, magnificence, loudness and suddenness, and that our reaction is defined by a kind of pleasurable terror. The strength of painting, of its continuing dominance over other mimetic art forms such as photography is its ability to trigger these psychologically loaded sensations that dialogue with the familiar whilst simultaneously provoking subliminal or unconscious reactions to subject, space and surface. Inferring a type of danger or disorientating beauty of epic proportions, these transcendental states of being, speak of human longing, questioning and curiosity. Often intuitive and emotionally driven by the erotic physicality of paint and the movement of brushstrokes, artists provide entry points into bizarre and poetic visions that oscillate between pain and pleasure, reality and oblivion.
Found across multiple subject matter and style, the underlying current necessary in this curatorial endeavour is to confront a type of psychological darkness and light to reveal the depth of human experience as well as the fringes of the minds’ understanding to go beyond ourselves and search for the sublime itself.