Time out London

Time out London – 5.1.1996

Art: Preview

Gwen Hardie


The body has long held a fascination for artist, whether as a metaphor for an idealized humanity or as an ideological battleground. Scottish painter Gwen Hardie takes a psychoanalytic approach, using the body’s interior to explore sexuality.’

They are about regeneration, and the desire to go beyond the self,
” she says of her paintings. The best canvases come in muted shades of grey and their surfaces have the smooth, greenish sheen of corpses. (‘Win Me Over’, painted on a poppy-red ground, is frighteningly close to a Habitat cushion design-so we’ll gloss over that one quickly.)

Each painting bears semi-abstract motifs, painted in fleshy pinks and blood reds, thatare clearly inspired by flowers and female genitalia.While the visual pun between flowers and families is not new- think Georgia O’Keeffe and Helen Chadwick – Hardie mines a more sinister vein; the dark voids at the center of her ‘blossoms’ resemble gaping wounds or hungry mouths.They arouse pain rather than pleasure, trepidation rather than lust. Am I experiencing Freudian castration fears? Would my reaction differ were I a man or of a different sexual persuasion? By seducing viewers into an unknown and sexually ambiguous terrain, Hardie’s paintings will, I suspect, strike a raw nerve in everyone. Like good sex, the experience is both terrifying and sublime.

Tania Guha

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