Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Art and Empathy

This week I visited the Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2D at Caloundra Regional Gallery (in Queensland, Australia).

SCAP 2D 2013 at Caloundra Regional Gallery

More than in other un-themed exhibitions I was struck by the wide range of art on show: from wildly gestural abstraction to minutely detailed realism, from pattern to politics. Such shows demand a lot of the viewer, not least the capacity to re-imagine each work within the context of it’s own genre. This is why I'm usually a slow-viewer, lingering in galleries for hours, if not whole days. To my surprise this time I found myself by-passing some works as déja-trop-vu while unexpectedly gravitating towards others.

Celeste Chandler, Lee Lombardi and L.M Noonan suggestively question and subvert links between (self) portraiture and identity. Donna Malone poignantly evokes the ephemeral nature of human presence through absence. Mitch Lang creates a memorable image of the increasingly common feeling of being “at sea” in our world. And Ray Coffey’s portrait becomes near-devotional through it’s unsentimental clarity and directness.

different approaches to conveying empathy: Ray Coffey and Celeste Chandler

Half an hour later I left the gallery still mystified but determined to shine some light on just what was resonating for me in certain works. So I decided to resurrect this blog as a place to articulate my experiences of Art...and through writing this, my question has answered itself: the common link between these works for me is their ability to evoke empathy for our humanity.