Pick of the Week: 'Permission to Climb' by Sharen Watson
In her guided art history tour at our Whangamata gallery earlier this month, Lynne Robinson referenced this painting in her discussion to illustrate the movement of expressionism: where the emotions and subjective perspective of the artist are translated, or 'expressed' through the work.
'Permission to Climb' in its very title suggests there is an obstacle that must be overcome. In the bottom right corner, we notice the delicate, graceful figure of a ballerina standing en pointe, looking upwards at the hill in front of her. The way the land mass dominates almost the entire composition suggests the figure's perceived magnitude of the climb ahead: a significant, almost overwhelming task. Sharen Watson's unusual approach to composition in this piece is directly conceptual, and her play with scale works to express a subjective visual interpretation of a great challenge.
Always one to push the boundaries with colour, Sharen's use of vivid, kaleidescopic tones give the piece a highly charged energy. Electric blues melt into firey reds and fluorescent limes, and the creation of negative space in the sky enables the hill to really 'pop'. Sharen's choice of palette works to enhance a feeling of readiness, of anticipation: with the most vibrant mix of colours at the top of the hill, we understand that this is where the rewards lie.
Though Sharen plays with the idea of wrestling with an obstacle, the overall mood of this piece is one of optimism. We sense that the anonymous ballerina is arriving at a resolution: having accepted the challenge ahead, she is now ready to 'climb'. See her now at our Whangamata gallery!
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