A Sum of its Parts
The domestic arena is the site of décor, material culture, and sentiment.
The home is a surrogate for domestic feeling: a dwelling place, a container of our most vulnerable parts.
The human body as home is a concept of self, one that speaks to the holistic and authentic habitation of one’s own body.
Lena Brazin’s ‘Coincidental Encounters’ encourages me to think of these relations in their various components. There is a detachment that haunts, without malice, the paintings in this exhibition. Ethereal spirits populate the canvases, indicating concealment and delicate sensation, stripped of what one recognises as a body. Such feelings are often found within the vessel of a home, whether physical or metaphorical. The aforementioned spirits inhabit, somewhat fleetingly, Brazin’s haphazard frames that awkwardly extend beyond the canvas. Aptly, the artists’ intention was to depict the unseen: “Crossed wooden bars were giving my first spirit paintings an icon-like, omnipresent feel with a contemporary and raw twist.” The bones and very physical structure of the paintings are exposed, giving the ghostly pictures balance and weight. We are confronted with an image as a sum of its parts, the body (canvas, stretcher) and its contents (painterly subject) dispersed in space.
It is hard to comprehend the potent tug-of-war between tangible surface and the immaterial. Artworks are, and have always been embedded in conversations that address such dichotomies both in opposition and harmony, particularly when they take 3-dimensional form. ‘Materiality’ is a loaded term in the space of sculpture.
Especially within the context of the home or a domestic space, the ‘stuff’ of objects somewhat transmit the psychological, emotional and memorial. Brazin’s spirits act as hovering reminder’s of this acute relation between object and meaning. The cottages, seemingly absent of their inhabitants, hold narratives. They speak to the complex nature of identity and undoubtedly contain items that stand in for the lives they only intend to adorn. It is a strange desire to want to build chronicles around unknown identities, however when in relation to one another, objects construct stories for us.
Lena Brazin’s ‘Cottage 15’ and ‘Cottage 16’ both from 2021, depict cartoon-like cottages that appear under the surveillance of metaphysical beings. The homes look isolated, concealed and lonesome, and perform an inside versus outside dynamic. Spirits seem stubbornly attached to the cottages, and surround the homes with a ghostly aura. It is as though the two components belong as one in some form. There has been a disembodiment; the spirits appear to have transcended some prior physical condition.