The Drawers - Susan Low-Beer Commentary by Julie Oakes

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Figuration - 2009, Headbones Gallery

Looking back on childhood, there is a vague haziness that perfects remembered images, crystallizing the body into a more miraculous, realized holistic substance. As a child, distracted by the exertion of growing up and hindered by self absorption, the freedom of a leap into the air is taken for granted, gauged against the difficulty, accomplished as one is able and then it is let go to be relegated in importance to the back burner of things done, time past. The age-old saying that “youth is wasted on the young” has elements of truth that art can grasp when life cannot as in Susan Low-Beer's ceramic installation State of Grace.  Low-Beer slows down the disintegration of dissemblance that is created as time changes the present into the past. The continuous layering of experience upon experience, age upon age, day upon day would be lost to the individuality of memory if it were not for the consolation of art.

Low-Beer was inspired by a photograph of a child jumping, the abandonment of the serious pull of gravity overcome by the joy of a jump in the air. To decide to capture this leap of faith that defied the call of the earth in clay - the metaphorical material from which the Creator built and to which man metaphorically returns - and from this to build lightness, necessitated overcoming the inherent rigour of the medium. Like alchemy, the material becomes more precious as it opens worlds other than the physical.

The figure is acknowledged as home of the spirit (body as temple). The sculptures become more than the sum of their physical parts so that the resulting sensation is solely of The Jump. The group of children are oblivious of anything other than themselves. Even their fellow leapers are of no consequence to them and yet their silent partners, all engaged in the same boisterous act, strengthen the feeling of insularity as if they are engaged in a self absorbed ritual of concentration.

 This dichotomy between the unsophisticated freedom of the jump and the quiet immobility of the ceramic sculptures makes for a spooky, yet thrilling disconnect. State of Grace is an installation that makes good use of awe.

There's something about the honesty of one's circumstance that sets the scene for powerful images. We are all involved through our physicality in a conversation with figuration but the personal range of specific experience is varied. As Mahmoud Meraji harkens to his Iranian roots with the use of symbols framing portraits of his family, self and friends; his son, Mehrad, aggrandises friends and family with a positivism born of the undaunted belief that talent lends to a fresh artistic career. Zachari Logan's triplet nude self portraits radically poise the mundane while Susan Low-Beer's ceramic children leap in trance-like suspended animation. Each artist, 'figuring' it out, brings to bear the authenticity of personal practice and life orientations.

Copyright © 2009,  Julie Oakes