Jodie Wells

Growing Wild

April 3 to April17 2021

Once upon a time everything in the natural world was growing wild.  Over the eons, certain animals, birds and flowers became domesticated or cultivated by humans for practical or aesthetic purposes.  Jodie Wells' new body of work expresses a desire for a more natural state of being; a return to tactility and away from an electronic, virtual reality.  The paintings' surfaces are palpable.  We encounter nature in all its wild, textural vividness through the gestural freedom of her palette knife markings.  Rather than realist depictions of flora and fauna, her works aim to convey the 'spirit and energy' of her subjects.

Based in the northern Gold Coast, Jodie's locale is one teeming with all manner of wild life.  She delights in depicting the antics of birds observed from the windows of her home studio.  Their colours, warbling songs and the ability to soar into the sky away from the constrictions of everyday concerns are an inspiration.  Apart from streaking owls, her birds are usually portrayed as perched upon a branch in an inquisitive attitude.  'Whether they are wild birds, or even birds in captivity, they all appear to display a distinctive personality,' says Jodie.  Standing Strong Magpie and Questioning Barn Owl are prime examples of such.

Jodie's robust fillies are in marked contrast to the diminutive bearing of her feathered creatures.  'I have always enjoyed painting horses. Because of their size they can appear somewhat intimidating but their intelligence, power, speed and for the most part, gentle temperaments, lead to endless painting possibilities,' she imparts.  The equines in the Stormy Canter, Stubborn Stride and Hasty Dash works gallop through monochrome turbulence with impasto zeal.  It is as if these steads would break free from their pictorial confinement.  A touch of humour invests the more sedate horse ‘portraits', as the titles Confidential Discussion, Brown Horse and Perfect Poise, Brown Horse suggest.

The Jumping Hound painting references a dog agility competition that Jodie recently witnessed.  This particular canine caught her attention for its colour and unusually large-sized ears.  'The dog looked like it was flying as it jumped obstacles in its race around the course,' she recollects.

As with her other imagery, Jodie's bouquets and vases of flowers are rendered with gusto - still lifes they are not!  The small circular panel communicates her wonderment at the fleeting majesty of a tree's magnolia blossoms.  However, any semblance of fragility in these floral works has been subordinated to an almost abstract orchestration of shape, luscious colour and sensuous surface treatment.

Unconcerned with symbolic import or socio-historic context, Jodie's paintings simply present a dynamic linking with the environment.  Jodie tells that the pink-hued backgrounds in several works may suggest Australia's glowing sunsets or the colour of skies laden with dust storm particles that have blown to the coast from the outback.  Her works manifest the natural world's nuances in the plasticity of oil medium.  They encourages us to experience our own habitats with an enlivened sensibility and to perchance grow a wilder, less constrained outlook.

JACQUELINE HOUGHTON


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