João Ferreira

Louise Linder

07 - 31 Oct 2009

© Louise Linder
The Lost Weekend, 2009
oil on canvas
120 X 92 cm
"From Here to Eternity II"

7 October - 31 October 2009
Opening reception: Wednesday, 7 October at 6pm

My paintings have always used snapshots as source. Encounters (2000) referenced photographs taken from my childhood in Mozambique and represented aspects of growing up in a colonial period. It touched upon the voyeuristic act of entering unfamiliar villages on our travels in Mozambique, and the open curiosity at such encounters, were, supposedly, transferred to the viewer.

The Family Laagers exhibition (2004) depicted family dynamics – the hidden stories and secrets within an intimate unit, and the notion of families as clans within tribes. Some of the paintings are set in South Africa and one of them, for example, entitled Family Laager – With Their Backs to the World shows the subjects sitting in garden chairs looking over their shoulders at the photographer. The act of looking over the shoulder embodies the insecurity isolation of the white South African family, wary of and closed to impending change. The wall implied by the structure of the garden furniture between themselves and the dark surroundings echoes this act of closing oneself off from the world. The title Laager refers to the notion of family clan as an insular circle. There is ambivalence between the lush setting and rich colours of dusk and an impending event. The idyllic environment bellies a strange disquiet, or unease. Light sources in these paintings are multiple and internal rather than natural. It is a psychological light, ambiguous and suggestive, within which figures dissolve or become strongly defined.

In 2006 I exhibited a group of works entitled The Settlers, My Family, Home Series which featured figures trudging in apocalyptic landscapes, apparently destined to a perpetual walking and search, as though in Hades. There is a tension or incertitude of belonging in their alienation (self or imposed) from the environment.

Last year’s show titled From Here to Eternity (2008) drew mostly from an album found in a junk shop and set in the 1950s with snapshots of young women, in their carefree moments before marriage and the responsibilities of families, in the prime of innocent youth. They seem ostensibly disconnected from the broader historical picture, inconsequential, just young South African girls unaware of much else. Here I decontextualised the figures from their physical space, floating them in an expansive ground reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s colour-fields. The contrast of realism within abstraction appeared to distill the starkness or intensity of presence, the present moment and being locked within eternity (the frozen moment that has irrevocably passed). Despite their celebratory nature, there is also a sense of mourning the passing of time and death.

The paintings for this year’s exhibition follow from the above but differ in some respects. Intense colour predominates and they are more theatrical or staged. Despite being titled after movies and popular songs from the 1940-1950s there is no narrative connection between them. I have found it difficult to write about these works because they are so reduced, intentionally, to the subject posing for the camera and the painterly ground. The narrative is not allowed to extend beyond these two factors in order to intensify the sense of presence and the notion of time and memory.

- Louise Linder

Tags: Linder, Mark Rothko