Kerry Brewer at Unity Gallery: wowzers

Kerry Brewer, Beehive

The wall blurb for the latest Kerry Brewer exhibition at Unity Gallery says her paintings need to be stood in front of; they need to be watched. And that's not arty-bullshit (honest). Like any good painting, these are not just snapshots of scenes. In fact, you see both less and more than that in each painting. 

Stay with me, I know it sounds like I'm venturing into the realms of arty-bullshit-speak here.

Kerry Brewer, Birds and Fishes II

You see less because the picture is like a photograph that is so out of focus that you strain to see what it actually is. And you see more because the composition seems to move in and out of focus as you move closer to and further from the painting. I guess that's something to do with the layers and layers of glaze she puts on each canvas. I hear each work takes between three and eight months to complete, but it's worth it to get an effect that doesn't just break space by appearing three-dimensional, but breaks time by becoming a mini-movie on canvas (ok, maybe that was vaguely arty-bullshit).

Kerry Brewer, Garret

I mentioned that you can't really see what the paintings are of. My partner in crime, Alex Price (check his stuff out here) and I were saying that it's interesting to briefly glance at these paintings. I saw two men having a night-time altercation on a beach; Alex saw a donkey on the sand (he's a much nicer person that me). I said each of the figures are painted as if they are white-hot flames; Alex said it is as if you were seeing the scene underwater. We later spoke to the artist, who seemed to take a lot of joy in the fact that we didn't know what the scenes actually depict. By her own admission, why would she go to such great lengths to make them ambiguous and give away her secrets just like that? I realised that just as the subjects are secrets locked beneath layers of paint and glaze, they are equally personal to the viewer. Everyone sees something different, and I reckon none of us see what Brewer sees.

Kerry Brewer, The Start

Of art in general, I always say you're not seeing reality, but an artist's depiction of reality. Of Brewer's art, the artist won't give you that; but gives you a lot more. She gives you the freedom to make up your own mind as to what you're seeing (an offering she uses to distract us from the fact that these paintings will remain a personal secret of hers). 


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