February 2 - March 2, 2024
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 2, 5:30-7:30 PM
Dolby Chadwick Gallery is thrilled to present Thresholds, an exhibition of recent work by Gwen Hardie.
While training as a figurative painter, Hardie became interested in existential questions about the self and other - what divides and connects us. Attempting to evoke atmosphere and body as interchangeable, she honed in on one unifying link: color. “Color reverberates and creates the illusion of life and living.” Distilled to this essential element and devoid of expositional titles, Hardie’s paintings are stripped of any narrative of experience and instead invite the viewer to engage in an experience.
Hardie’s paintings pulsate with life, simultaneously pushing and pulling the viewer. This tension emerges from the artist’s masterful manipulation of the relationship between light and color, as soft gradations of warm and cool tones create spatial illusions and vivid atmospheric effects. The seamless progression of temperatures at the canvases’ “transitional walls” produces the ethereal aura of a floating foreground. In 02.09.23, reddish black on phthalo green, the ominous warmth of the reddish black lures one into its abyss, whilst the phthalo green’s incandescence emanates beyond the canvas’ borders. At once absorbant and reflective, the piece appears to glow from its own internal light source.
For Hardie, painting is an alchemic process. As she transforms flat surfaces into three-dimensional mirages, Hardie explores both the physical and non-physical effects of color. Her practice is the culmination of methods spanning the history of color theory, from the Renaissant sfumato technique to the Impressionists’ emotive use of color to depict light’s ephemerality. Further indebted to the modern discoveries of Albers and Rothko, she purposefully blends colors and tones to render varying densities and depths of field. Temperature and tonality of background and foreground are continually adjusted until the piece awakens with reverberating energy.
Mirroring the artist’s approach, the viewer’s communion with the work is firmly tethered to the present. One forgoes attempts to decode some elusive subject matter and instead experiences each piece as a happening. As stimulating colors extend into our space, they arouse profound emotional responses, revealing the power of color to connect us both perceptibly and metaphysically. The canvas acts as a meditative liminal space.
Hardie’s pieces provide a rare opportunity: for one to have a true aesthetic experience. The hypnotic hum of color draws the viewer into the canvas’ seemingly infinite world, wherein time is suspended and the senses are heightened. To Hardie, the “transitional walls” are key: “It’s here in the interstices between grounds that the transformation between dimensions can be realized.” Past their threshold awaits a chance encounter with the sublime.
Born and educated in Scotland, Gwen Hardie earned her B.A. and post-graduate diploma from the Edinburgh College of Art. For over two decades, she has lived and worked in New York City and exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Her work can be found in numerous permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, British Museum, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and Manchester Art Gallery. This is her first solo exhibition at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.