The bodies we must exist in affect every aspect of our lives. The societal norms around them–how they should look, feel, eat, have sex, move, age–are some of the most deeply entrenched we navigate.
The six artists I have gathered for No End In Sight all work with the idea of the body: how the physical affects identity, how chronic illness and disability affect creative practice, exploring interactions with their own or other bodies. They are an incredibly talented cohort of marginalised people creating beautiful, provocative art.
Frustrated with chronic pain flares stealing yet another slice of time from her art, Fiona Chinkan began a new practice of creating work during them. In exploring how she could create while in physical distress, Fiona has moved away from the recognisable visual vocabulary she built up for over a decade. The result is a chaotic while purposeful melding of abstraction with tantalising suggestions of the otherworldly.
Laura Fedorowicz also makes work during pain episodes and creates otherworlds through mark making. Laura offers up the emotional experience of living in her body, painting her hopes and asking us to share them. I really enjoy juxtaposing Laura’s dreamy, spiritual optimism with Fiona’s tough, stripped back aesthetic.
Susan Carr’s approach to the body is abstract and anamorphic, invoking the feral and frenzied beast alongside Jungian archetypes. I find Susan’s relationship with her materials fascinating; her artist statement invokes paint itself as having its own life force. The realist element of her work is also delightful. In the context of the exhibition, I have positioned her work as the bridge between the abstract figure painting. She glues it all together.
Emotionally driven and deliberately made, Jessica Ashburn’s work struck me with its nuanced understanding of color and the subtleties of bodies. By positioning our gaze so close to her subjects, the images verge on the grotesque while retaining a tender beauty. Her hyperfocus shows every crease of skin and explores the body’s has edges–lips, nipples, nails–where the insides touch the outside world.
Sylvie McClelland works with a more subdued but still colorful palette to create portraits of people they know. They treat their subjects with care and sensitivity, gently drawing things out of them. I find their work reminiscent of Frida Kahlo in its light surreality and its symbolism deeply connected to nature.
Exploring gay culture and identity is front and center in Ian Stone’s work. While a step further removed from the personalness of the other figure painters, his portraits show a desire to connect with the whole world of his subjects. They are tenderly voyeuristic, paying detailed attention to the domestic details of people’s lives to be found around the edges of home selfies.
The initial decision to present No End In Site entirely in the virtual realm came from a need to keep people safe, but it had the added benefit of making the show more accessible. I and the team are all so satisfied to be able to share these works with people all over the world, from homes and schools and on buses and trains.
There is no end in sight, but we are still here, as we always have been.
About the curator: A multi-award-winning American artist and curator of figurative abstraction and portraiture, Charlie’s work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions in the USA and internationally. He paints in his work-live studio in Philadelphia.
In the past five years, Charlie’s work has toured with the Montreal Arts Council throughout Quebec in public and private galleries and been exhibited in spaces throughout Montreal including the Parisian Laundry, Donald Browne Gallery, Lilian Rodriguez Gallery, Joyce Yahouda Gallery, and Gallery B312; as well as at Penn State University, Sanger Gallery, Amos Eno Gallery in New York, Key West FL, and London UK.
Charlie is curating a portion of Vantage Art Projects’ Fourth Quarter Exhibition, which is being presented entirely online in response to the COVID19 pandemic and to accommodate the artists and team members who live with chronic illnesses.
Grants and awards Charlie has received include the Vermont Studio Residency Grant, Helene Couture Award for Excellence in Painting, and the Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts Fellowship. In 2017, he was a visiting artist lecturer at the Sherwin B. Nuland Institute in Bioethics at Yale University. In 2020, he was awarded an Artist Relief Grant, an initiative organized by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, United States Artists, and Creative Capital.
He currently manages the production and assembly of haute couture clutch handbags in Ardmore, PA, which are sold through Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Net-A-Porter, and other high-end boutiques.
About the writer: Sarah Jansen is an Australian fiction and nonfiction writer. Her work is informed by her fascination with the seemingly limitless ways humans can find to live, and an endless curiosity about how small banalities and macro social and economic structures interact to create our experiences of everyday life.
She has been published in Gravel, Lip, We Matter Media, Writers Bloc, Vibewire.net, in Vignette Press’s Mini Shots series and Sex Mook anthology, Filter magazine, the Zahmoo blog, The Edge, and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman. In 2013, Sarah received a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship to support a four-week residency in Johnson, VT, USA.
From November 2018 to February 2019, she created all content for and published Neuroticarium, a zine exploring everyday psychology. The last three issues are themed: Objects, Memory, Love.
From 2002 to 2017, Sarah worked in fundraising and partnerships and as a board member with arts organisations including the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Freeplay, the Small Press Network, The Edge, Pozible, Brisbane International Film Festival, Straight Out Of Brisbane, This Is Not Art, and Vibewire.
She is from Logan City, Australia, spent 10 years in Brisbane, and has lived in Melbourne since 2011.