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Jennifer Nieuwland

My practice explores physical and psychological experiences rooted in bodily memory. It seeks to reflect a visceral encounter with the world and to evoke intense, non-verbal affects, to capture that which cannot be contained by language. Meaning is manifested through metaphor, symbolism and the paint itself.


I investigate notions of trauma and catharsis, presenting the female body as a site of ambivalent tensions; of fragility and strength, violence and resilience, balance and chaos. Ultimately, a microcosm of universal truths.


The ‘body’ in the work, is an ambiguous form that acts as a signifier for affective states. It stretches, drips, contorts, flattens, swells, reacts; potentially both architect and victim of the world it inhabits. Bodily forms sit host-less and isolated yet centre-stage, in ‘landscapes’ that reflect internal psychic and sensory states. Felt experiences reverberate spatially in the work, suggesting an interplay between our embodied selves and external forces. As a whole each painting becomes a physical and psychological site, layered with different emotional and symbolic registers.


The apparent simplicity of this visual language belies subtle complexities in formal and material play. I am interested in the potential of paint to channel the intangible, to encode and activate sensation. This reverberates in the marks, sheens, colours and textures laid in the paint. The material is variously scratched, scumbled, flicked, thinned, roughened, pulled and so on. By encouraging the formal incidents in the work to morph and cultivate my imagery, the logic of the narrative is disrupted, enabling new meanings to emerge.


A child-like cartoony aesthetic injects the work with a humorous aspect that offsets the potentially disturbing elements within. Ultimately, the inextricable connections and tensions between beauty and the abject, pain and creation are negotiated in an attempt to achieve a charged and ambiguous encounter.


Courtesy of the artist’s website.