From Carrie Miller…
Memory, identity, the body – these are the concepts which have preoccupied contemporary art. The result has been a lot of art with artists as the subject of their own work. What’s so interesting about the practice of Halinka Orszulok is that it deals with the very same conceptual tropes but she’s nowhere in sight. In fact, it’s the very absence of the human figure that makes us so present to ourselves.
In her latest series of paintings, she’s continued her long-standing practice of taking photos at night then painting the scenes photo-realistically in oil on canvas. Orszulok often chooses to paint public spaces like parks where the line between the natural and built environment is a shifting one; she’s especially intrigued by the surreal effect on nature when lit by artificial light. Through technical virtuosity, a remarkable eye for composition, and an exquisite sensitivity for contrast, her images illuminate the darker recesses of the unconscious by invoking an ambiguous psychological reaction in the viewer. She does this by drawing our attention to the conventional nature of the binary division between nature and culture, the wild and the tamed, the known and the unknown. The spaces she depicts are both beautiful and threatening – places that draw you in and look like ones you might need to escape. They are spaces which symbolise the ambiguous, shifting and sometimes malignant relationship between the conscious and the unconscious which is ultimately the very personal subject matter of this artist’s work.
Until December 8
Flinders Street Gallery, Surry Hills.
Pic: Halinka Orszulok, False Sun, 2012. 105x75cm, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Flinders Street Gallery, Sydney.