Sunday, March 24, 2013

" can almost taste her paintings " a review by Stephanie Webb BA, BFA (Hons), MA

Tenants to the heart

As expressions of illuminated thoughts, the subject of Nancyanne Cowell's work is life and energy. Using the natural world as a source of inspiration, her paintings capture momentary glimpses of the cyclical nature of our existence.

Steeped in the tradition of European Romanticism, Cowell paints with contemporary materials -- such as acrylic resins, pastes and gels -- as she responds directly and intuitively to the energy of free-form expression. Profoundly interested in the innate qualities of the paint itself, the surfaces are sensuous yet robust. Created using an array of unusual tools, these multi-layered surfaces extend the boundaries of traditional painting. Throughout the creative process, Cowell relies heavily upon the written word and this importance of the word is paralleled in her work by the calligraphic quality of the mark-making. Mind-maps, journal entries and lines of poetry that document personal responses to situations and experiences are all grist for the mill, providing inspiration for series and often becoming titles for individual paintings.

Kneeling by time's kiss
Layering memories and pulling paint as “people's thoughts”, the surfaces, for Cowell, are a “snap shot of the soul [...]”. Focusing on transformation and positive change -- making, unmaking and remaking -- the work speaks to the fragility of the world as we know it. Tenderly stroked passages are juxtaposed with areas of intense brushwork; lights sparkle against more sombre darks; saturated and paler colours are placed in opposition; and, flat areas -- where the paint has been applied in thin veils -- seem to confront those where it is so thick and juicy you can almost taste her paintings. These qualities are brought into balance through deft handling and, despite this tense union of oppositions, her paintings remain ever hopeful. Full of joy, her work is never mournful but celebrates a certain lightness of being and the transient nature of life; contemplative yet vibrant, her work begs reflection on your own story.
Tango Trance
Blushing Ballad
Blushing Ballad

Nancyanne Cowell
Featured Artist
The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm
November-December, 2012
Breaking the Box: The Alternative, Libertarian Exhibition, Spaces Created by Rothko & Judd. Photos courtesy of artist -

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