Henny Acloque: A Dressing
3 July – 8 August 2009
Ceri Hand Gallery is delighted to announce Henny Acloque’s first solo show in the UK. London based Acloque’s new series of narrative paintings reference old masters such as Bosch, Bruegel and Dürer and explore the fragility of life and the self.
Acloque’s part time job as a restorer is reflected in both her technique and restrained colour palette – burnt umbers, ghostly golds and shell greys provide a sinister backdrop for dripping blood reds and dense coal blacks. Layers of paint and reflective varnish create timeless, evanescent landscapes that encapsulate curious creatures and symbolic, recurring motifs drawn from memories and myths, such as trees, animals, plants, eggs and arches.
Seemingly caught between worlds, monkeys wait by open or shut doors that hover in space, Truman Show like, offering an entry point both into the painting and to another plane. Steps leading to it are too high or far away to climb, the monkey is tempted or tormented by a bell pull to announce his arrival (or departure). What the door leads to we are never privy to, but the melancholic tone of the painting indicates the grass may not be greener on the other side.
The majority of paintings are seductively small, which heightens the sinister frisson in the work. Archways with talons or medusa-esque vines brandishing a decapitated bird’s head go further to belie the initial desire the paintings evoke in the viewer.
Titles such as St. Paula (the patron saint of Widows) confirm that death is an ever present companion in these paintings, but with a monkey taking central stage, we are also reminded that we are the fool and should question our motives and horizons.
Spectral space within all of the paintings provides a contemplative portal for considering self in relation to other.
The trio of large paintings feature unstable islands, looming moons, precarious mountains and dinosaur sized broken eggshells, wedged into trees. Well mined historical iconography, such as smoking candles and smiling skulls undermine these eccentric worlds, where paradise is in the balance.