Gabrielle Courtenay: TRACES

‘Traces’ by Sydney-based artist Gabrielle Courtenay reflects an ongoing exploration of aesthetics, pictorial space and symbolism of sculpture and painting. Following the tradition of vanitas painting, and incorporating abstraction, surrealism, Courtenay’s works depict the perpetuity of spiritual landscapes.

Gabrielle Courtenay, Smoke and Mirrors, 2017, acrylic, vinyl, pencil, pastel on plywood, 60 x 60cm. Courtesy the artist and ARO Gallery, Sydney

Courtenay moves away from her monochromatic palette and returns to colour in a liberating blend of charcoal and pencils – drawing directly onto on the stained timber panels, carving and molding the surface. Most striking is the use of burnt timber, or ash as a material, connecting the work to the theme of transformation, in particular religion, love, birth, death, creation and renewal in association with many religions and cultures. In ancient and modern ceremonial practices, the powdery residue represents what remains, an outline or ‘trace’ of what came before. Secularly, the use of ash hints at climate change, deforestation, urban renewal and connections to the ancient past when charcoal was first used to draw on cave walls.

Gabrielle Courtenay, Infinity and the Finite, 2015, vinyl, pigment and synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen. Courtesy the artist and ARO Gallery, Sydney

This body of work speaks a universal visual language that is beautifully captivating and soulful in expression.

ARO Gallery
16 to 27 May, 2018