Last week emerging artist Katie Young launched an exhibition titled Magnum Linea at the Dome Gallery, Melbourne.
This series of oil and watercolour paintings are largely based on the artist’s friends and contemporaries, and in the tradition of portraiture they bear a strong physical likeness to their subjects. Yet through the introduction of symbols and designs that traverse the Sirens’ skin and often emanate into the inky blackness beyond, the works become emblematic of a reality beyond the immediate and tangible. A pervasive sense of fantasy exists, as Young’s fey subjects seem to inhabit a twilight universe between worlds. Vivid colour defines facial features and flesh is painted with a luminous translucency, yet the models also appear very much of the here and now, and reflect the creative sub-culture of body adornment and tattooing as a means of self-expression.
The motifs that frequently appear in Young’s imagery are drawn from sources as diverse as mysticism, nature, mythology, astrology, and pop-culture. In branding them upon the bodies of her Sirens, Young draws our attention to the unseen and inexplicable side of human experience that occult practices have long explored. In doing so she elevates her subjects to an archetypal realm where ordinary people take on mythic proportions.
While still in the early stages of developing her visual language and skills in rendering anatomical detail, these works provide an exciting glimpse at the practice of an artist with huge promise, and her own distinct vision.
© Marguerite Brown 2013