– by Stephanie Lyon
The Others is a edgy and thought provoking exhibition, by Melbourne-born multi disciplinary artist Emma Margetts, challenging the perception of self through distortion, exaggeration, and improbability. Margetts’ utilises the circus as a cultural metaphor for ‘the other’ with all twenty paintings bringing to life another member in Margetts’ family of displaced others; each one representing another dislocation of self. Every character mimics the effort we put into being the people we aren’t and hiding our true selves; through their emotionless expressions and hidden faces. The madame in ‘Terra Nullius’ has her face concealed by full shadow, there’s the masked violinist in ‘The Spectre of Paganini’, and a clown has his head on backwards in ‘The Fool’ and that’s just to name a few.
The work is autobiographical, most evident in ‘The Ventriloquist and His Dolls’ which features Emma’s older brother as the ventriloquist and her father in the background, both having passed away in Emma’s childhood, while a young Emma sits on the ventriloquists lap. The artwork investigates grief and challenges death because while we can’t talk to the dead, ventriloquists can and will continue to bring inanimate characters to life.
I admired Margetts’ use of mixed media with many of the acrylic paintings incorporating graphite pencil, collage, and stencils. All of them playing a part in a vivid battle between the light and the dark with splashes of bright vibrant colours toned down or painted over with black paint which is representative of the conflict inside us all. I felt like I was on a strange and wonderful journey through the subconscious as I walked through the rooms in chronological order.
From the beginning there is an element of childhood nostalgia in ‘La Belle Rhinoceros’ with its strong lines, subtle splashes of pink and blue, and is unlike any other of the paintings on show. It has a dream like quality invoking feelings of happiness and content. The nostalgia continues further on with ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ and ‘Anastasia Von Starbutton’ both sitting on rocking horses. Darkness settles with the crows in ‘Crow I’ and ‘Crow II’ which are true beauties in the dark showcasing Margetts’ shading techniques and attention to detail. We are guided once more into the light as doves appear in ‘L’Enfant Terrible’ and ‘Dove’ which symbolises finding inner peace.
The exhibition struck a chord with me on an emotional level as I reflected on my own life, and left with a new appreciation for everything that makes me who I am, both the good and the bad. If you like your art a little dark or like me you’re a fan of Tim Burton this exhibition is a ‘must’.
LOCATION: Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, 46 Henry Street, Fremantle
OPENING TIMES: Open daily 10am – 4pm
Photo credit: The Others