Delicacy in art is rare, and if used well, it can frame bold ideas within a subtle architecture. Erika Jane Stephens-Moore’s current exhibition, Inference, contains insights which will sneak up on the viewer, allowing for concurrent interpretation and introspection.
At first appearance Stephens-Moore’s interesting palette choices blanket over the whole, with colour combinations both loud and subdued, contoured together such that one is equally as necessary as the other. The balance of the palette is strengthened by Stephens-Moore’s acute sense of composition, proving in this case that the physical placement of colour is as important as colour choice.
Tethered to these deliberate compositions are very striking drawings which hold a sense of spontaneity akin to a graffiti artist. These drawings are scattered and isolated; a spatial tension in regard to the whole. These depictions are formed with varying degrees of tangibility; a mere hint of an object or a brazen shape taking precedence by an immediate and undeniable presence. In all cases, these elements work harmoniously together, which leaves one to ponder how this could be. Such is the nature of abstraction, whereby the images appear to work as both the positive and the negative, within and outside of context, and serenity is then felt on uneven ground.
Stephens-Moore’s Inference addresses the phenomena of memory. In particular, it illustrates the question: why do we remember the things we do? It seems that perception lies at the core of experience, such that nothing is experienced that lies outside our senses. However, one could argue that imagination is a perceptive state as well. When we remember entire experiences, we are encountered with groups of memories, some of which are sense-driven and others which are nameless aspects that simply exist. The phenomenal importance of memories lies in their quality. Some of these memories are clear and discrete forms appearing unhinged from a collage of associations, this being the physical environment that has allowed for these memories in the first place. And during the act of remembering, this environment has a way of becoming fleeting and inconsequential (remembering the tiny sailboat over the bottle that surrounds it for instance.). Considering that our emotions are captured within memories as well, and it can be argued that our clearest memories are the ones which we ‘feel’ the most.
Stephens-Moore’s paintings illustrate this phenomena by allowing specific patterns and images to be captured negatively, as if they are being pushed forward from an underlying situation; a mental landscape which was derived from the outside world, but altered upon revisit. Memory, then, is not as simple as one may believe. The strongest images are carried through by our feelings towards it, by proxy of the situation that presented it to us.
Stephens-Moore’s Inference opened at the Christina Parker Gallery on Friday September 12th.