From Sharne Wolff…
Recognising the psychological power of the mask when he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Pablo Picasso nominated it his first ‘exorcism painting’. Nicole Toms‘ first solo show Cast Your Mind similarly explores ‘psychological and emotional states filtered through the identity of the mask’. Toms has a telling day job as a mental heath carer and often makes use of related themes in her regular painting practice. The idea for this exhibition, the National Art School Graduate’s first solo show, sprang from a single work completed for Mils Gallery’s annual mask exhibition.
Triggered by images she finds provocative in magazines or other media, plaster casts of the artist’s own face are layered with wax, found objects, cloth and paint. Eyes (if they’re present at all) are painted in with oil. The resulting piece bears little resemblance to the original image, although that’s left for the viewer to ponder. Toms’ masks play with a range of descriptions from grotesque, macabre and disturbing to the carnival, witty or just plain weird. Hiding behind the mask, Toms has given herself the freedom to be bound to alternative personalities. The viewer is also able to encounter each work individually. How should I read this face? How would I perform behind it?
Until April 12
Mils Gallery, Surry Hills
Pic: Nicole Toms The Fantasist, Plaster, wax, cloth Fimo, 23 x 19 x 22cm.
Courtesy the artist and Mils Gallery.