Veronica Cay

reflections from the rabbit hole

September 29 - October 13 2018

The term 'rabbit hole' is a metaphor for an entry into the unknown. Stemming from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it refers to a journey through nonsensical situations that become increasingly surreal and disorienting. To view Sunshine Coast-based Veronica Cay's new series of works is to plummet into such a realm. Cay describes the exhibition's title as suddenly manifesting when contemplating a particular painting in her studio. 'The head up in the left hand corner brought to mind a Charles Blackman work and I was instantly transported to the rabbit hole - those shifting planes of the unfamiliar where nothing is straightforward.'

Although Cay's paintings, drawings and ceramic sculptures transmute intensely personal substance and experience, she intends them as vehicles to encourage reflection on the human condition. The symbolism is therefore oblique and indirect. Behind the visible appearance of things lurks its caricature. In several paintings there appear figures truncated at the waist and duplicated as if reflected in a murky pond. An avid collector of vintage toys, it was a folkloric, Topsy-Turvy doll that inspired Cay's rendition of inverted reality. Made of cloth and fused at the hips, the doll's double countenances represent opposing attitudes: asleep/awake; black/white; above/below. For Cay the configuration of such dolls became emblematic of the topsy-turvy nature of certain episodes that leave one 'spinning and never really knowing which way is up!'

Cay's paintings embrace the figurative expressionist mode. Both painted surface and human document they have an extraordinary psychological presence. The figures occupy an indeterminate space. Realistic portrayal is not her concern but rather the arousal of a subliminal, emotional response. Direct brushwork and the distortion of form create pictorial tension, colour and size relationships heightening the drama.

A number of large mixed media works on paper have been included in the exhibition. Their impact is again on a sensory level. The drawings all commenced during life drawing sessions that Cay describes as 'conversations in line and texture with the pose of the model.' These sketches were later developed in the studio to evince a variety of poignant, ironic or whimsical situations. Guided by impulse, her mark making is intuitive, constantly swapping hands and often using both at once! In translating what is happening below surface appearances 'real or imagined ' Cay remains open to chance, allowing line to follow its own energy. The kinetic power of her linear orchestration is visceral. Cay's allegro furioso technique erodes any personal specificity in a communication of essence.

The creative impetus for Cay's curious ceramic sculptures also arose from recall of bewildering events, the eccentricity of forms and features eternalising the attendant conundrums. The malleability of the white clay medium colluded in the necessarily abstracted and contorted shapes that give physical presence to elusive memory. Effigy-like, the sculptures' bizarre appearances play with the viewer's frame of reference, kindling unexpected insights into rabbit hole encounters.


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