Poetics of Shape by Sheena Mathieson is an online exhibition of fifty-two mono prints, fifty by seventy centimeters. The works are joyous, light, playful, colourful and expertly executed.
Poetics of Shape plays with Poetics of Space by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s. Poetics of Space explores our relationship to the physical building of home. A famous extract of Bachelard’s “… better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality…” Artist Sheena Mathieson has keenly felt the restrictions and impact of COVID 19 living and working in inner Melbourne, teetering on the edge of the CBD. Melbourne has experienced one of the longest COVID19 lockdowns in the world to date.
Mathieson’s fifty-two mono prints stand on their own in uniqueness. Mono printing in the west dates to the sixteenth century re-emerging with Edgar Degas placing them into the modern art movement. Mono prints are not print runs of multiples rather one offs. Contemporary mono prints have a story of simple shapes often with the use of one or two colours.
Artwork No.50. appears simple, light, and joyful belies the precision. Her use of colour is lightly applied giving way to the transparency of other colour. Mathieson’s work has a 1970’s flavour in shape however without the use of heavy blocks of colour such as Berenice Sydney’s work nor does it reflect the 1990’s blurred line like Mark Francis when both decades saw a re invigoration in mono prints. There are a least ten markings (print pressings) using four different colours expertly executed. The works are simple yet controlled each mark is cross hatched, giving a light textural feel of cloth. The work encapsulates movement, references the figurative, the landscape and is abstract. Its like a cloud, we can imagine into it.
These intriguing works are familiar yet original, comforting yet stark, homely yet precise. Mathieson has had fun playing with the Gaston Bachelard’s philosophy shedding light within the home during this dark historical moment of COVID19.
Go have a peek at her online exhibition https://www.woman-made.biz/poetics-of-shape-2020/
Review by Fern Smith