It’s nice to look at bodies. Sometimes it’s a grotesque experience. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes they experience moments that are lovely. Either way, they are unavoidable. These are some thoughts that I mused upon when I visited The Breathing Rooms, an exhibition by Briana Jamieson and Jake Fairweather. They are maybe not the most revolutionary of thoughts, maybe they don’t sound very interesting or exciting, but they are nice things to ruminate on, in a warm space, enfolded into a crowd of people with a bit of red wine in your belly.
Bookending the room is Fairweather’s work. Enormous, earthy, yet ethereal figures hover at your sides, floating between your navel and your shoulders. Fairweather’s delicate linework, his careful placement of every brushstroke, give the bodies a realistic sense of mass yet the overall composition (tangles of limbs floating untethered upon the canvas) give them a sense of otherworldliness. The colour palettes speak of the elements, as Fairweather brings shades of leaves and mud and sea into the skin of his figures. He is consciously encouraging us to stare into a very real darkness - “Think of muddy apricots and how you are very slowly dying”. Yet there is a feeling of wholeness here. As I stare into the depths of his work it occurs to me that is it entirely natural to be lost in the dark.
Dotted along the wall between Fairweather’s works sit Jamieson’s series Gherkins. Aesthetically, they seem worlds away. Somehow serenely chipper, thanks to an uplifting palette of pale lemons, creams and oranges, Jamieson’s work captures the ghosts of moments. Bodies are washed and lost in space, her figures seeming to be cut-out of their environment as opposed to disrupting it. The result is harmony, a celebration of the one-beat perfection and sense of rightness with ourselves and with the space around us, before we exhale, and it is lost. Consulting the titles of the pieces brings extra life force to the paintings as they become engulfed in story - with names such as “At night we made pikelets and ate them by the table downstairs”, Jamieson finds the magic in specificity.
An exhibition called The Breathing Rooms can’t help but encourage a meditative experience. It is an opportunity to be in the here and now and reflect on the body. To reflect on your own body and celebrate, both as the pure, objective, external flesh and the suit of our mental and emotional experiences. So pop along this week, breathe in, reflect, and let it all go on the exhale. You’ll feel better for it.
The Breathing Rooms is showing until May 28th at Across the Road Gallery, 26 Wallace St, Mt Cook.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 4pm - 6:30pm
Saturday: 11am - 4pm