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Joni Brenner at the Still Point


Joni Brenner’s latest solo exhibition ran at London Gallery, Art First between 8 October – 14 November 2015

Joni Brenner’s latest solo exhibition ran at London Gallery, Art First between 8 October – 14 November 2015.

Extracted from public address given at the exhibition, ‘At the still point’:

The account below gives some insight to the process of making, and to the intellectual concerns to do with likeness and portraiture, transience, mortality and time, that have been part of my creative work for decades, and that continue to inform new iterations in my practice.

I think the portraits, individually and collectively have that calm stillness that has come from the intensive looking and from the attempts to know or understand.

The stillness – which gave rise to the title of the show – results from several things, perhaps most notably it is there, because, unlike Wilson and Fred who followed, Scott does not engage in conversation in the studio.

The stillness is also there, acquired or accrued through the hours of looking, through the layers of paint on the surface, built up, scraped away, portraits reinvented over and over again, investing the surface with time accumulated.

And the quiet of the portraits is there too in the limited range of bony off-whites that have been used to make them, and in the tight parameters: all smallish, oils on canvas, mostly frontal poses.

A sense of this model, and of me, this painter, I think emerges across the group of portraits, and the overarching project is there in the serial attempts to capture or hold the moment of being before it slips into the past.

That balance in time between past and future and the awareness of time passing is also very much there in the skulls ­– the watercolours and the one new bronze. The combination of portraits and skulls embodies, perhaps in an obvious way, the passing of time, and the need to record it.

Additional insights to this new body of work, and to the ways in which it reflects a deep concern with the affordances of making, as a means to knowing or understanding, are captured in the catalogue essay which was written by the author Elizabeth Burroughs after a long studio discussion between the two of us in front of the new works.

Joni Brenner exhibition London GalleryJoni Brenner London Gallery