Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is Earthly Beings, featuring new work by Australian artist Bec Winnel. An accomplished illustrator, Winnel’s portraiture combines the illustrative precision of a graphic artist with the sophistication and emotiveness of a painter. The ethereal quality of the artist’s work is the result of carefully accreted layers of color and pencil. These portraits capture the soft tactility and warmth of flesh with nothing less than alchemy. Executed with graduated washes of watercolor paint, pastel, and pencil, the portraits seem to transcend the very materiality of their execution and subjects. Winnel’s work is delicate and otherworldly, and seems to border on the immaterial. Like a chimeric mirage, the imagery emerges from the surface like a dream state: soft, plush, and seemingly on the brink of dissolving into thin air. The artist’s subject’s are beautiful, and her highly stylized portraits explore the haunting of femininity with a genuine enjoyment and sensuality that captures its lovely vicissitudes.
Winnel’s work, while indisputably contemporary, is informed by a stylized penchant for the romantic and a tendency towards aesthetic nostalgia. Her pieces are rendered in a palette of candy pastel hues, with a gossamer like delicacy that seems to defy their two-dimensional surfaces. Hyperreal and uncannily executed, the seduction of the imagery is rooted in its combination of hyperrealistic portraiture and hyper-stylization. The portraits are ultimately contemporary odes to feminine beauty that combine nostalgia with timeliness, hyperrealism with stylistic license – and that successfully defy the confines of the two-dimensional plane by hovering seductively in the realm of dream.