Disused interior spaces with dubious décor are rendered from Jessie Cunningham-Reid’s memory, a process of abstraction by which the artist acts as a conduit.
Cunningham-Reid has always doffed her cap to Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and the German Expressionist style, aligning herself with their use of pure colour, strong mark making with broken contours that have an almost palpable energy, seeming to pulsate on the canvas. His work - other notables include: Max Beckmann, Emil Nolde and a refreshing amount of prominent female artists like Käthe Kollwitz and Gabriele Münter - sought to refute and resist the industrialisation and mobilisation of a pre-National Socialist Germany, which is not entirely at odds with our current anti-Trump, anti-Brexit consciousness.
One exterior of a building sees a flattening of the picture plane, a conflation of space one get’s when looking at a photograph. One solitary winking window against a plane of process yellow becomes a recurring leitmotif appears as a visual anchor in a work derived from a old sagging bar discovered on travels in the Balkans. A stained glass window is rendered in candy stick pink and sunny glade greens, in what Cunningham-Reid described as a rather flamboyant gesture in a rather banal and largely forgettable doctor’s waiting room in Sydney.
Later works in the series see a full envelopment in abstraction. Recalling the Bay Area artist’s, most notably Richard Diebenkorn and late de Kooning, colours are still acidic but begin to muddy, shapes become viscous, like the dissipation of a memory.
This elevation of the oft-overlooked; the transient or decommissioned space through confident choice of colour; variation in intensity of line and stroke draws attention to how we interact with our environs and inherently questions the authenticity of things in a world where simulacrum and representation are the new reality.
Words by Carwyn McIntyre.