During the lead-up to making Threshold a farcically melodramatic sequence of circumstances steamrollered my life. This onslaught brought intense experiences of pain, death, new life, risk, wonder, grief, love, extreme medical emergencies - including very near death, gruelling recovery, fear, fury, weakness, passion, compassion, vulnerability, betrayal and strength.
Even had I tried, it would be impossible for this turmoil not to imbue my work. Through my practice I have consistently conceptually grappled with how we navigate complexity and contradictions, and my work has become increasingly personal. But Threshold is the most intimate work I have made thus far.
Seventeen ‘slices’ of Perspex construct Threshold, each supporting oil paint applied in fragments, combined to create a contorted woman, her pose a consequence of a diabolical blow, or of her powerful summonsing of inner strength to reassert her push back. The images disappear and re-emerge dependent on vantage point; splintered, volatile, evasive. Acrylic sheet’s unstable light-bearing properties enact improbable refractions and reflections as further appearances and disappearances.
Threshold exploits the ability to be not only ‘both’, but ‘many’ simultaneously, with one perceived image knocked adroitly out of place by another, and another, and another, in intriguingly constructive destruction.
Threshold viscerally, aesthetically and experientially embodies both the intense fragility and humble, immense power and vigour of life force.
Courtesy of Artereal Gallery
Jess MacNeil lives and works in London and is a multi-disciplinary artist using art to investigate personal and universal human issues and experiences. MacNeil has exhibited widely on the international stage and in Australia including Griffith University Art Gallery (2017); Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (2015); CASS Arts Gallery, London (2014); Queensland Festival for Photography (2014); Grafton Regional Gallery (2014); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2013); 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore (2011); Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010); Athens Video Art Festival (2010); Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2009); Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2008); and Samstag Museum (2008).
MacNeil received her Bachelor of Visual Arts with honours (1998) and Masters of Visual Arts (2004) from the Sydney College of the Arts and completed a Graduate Research Programme at the Slade School of Fine Art in London (2008).
oil paint on Perspex
26 x 23 x 29 cm
Viewers' Choice Award; Finalist
Judges of the 2018 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize: Michael Lynch AO CBE (Australian Arts administrator, former Director of Sydney Opera House and former CEO of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong) and Amanda Love (Director Loveart, independent Art Advisory).
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