Feint sets up an encounter with six small scale framed watercolour paintings within a spacious, yet enclosed white room.
I am interested in the multiplicity of meanings of the word feint - feints are deceptive or feigned attacks/maneuvers designed to distract or mislead - a misleading action or appearance - a false show. Within the world of printing feint denotes the narrowest rule used in the production of ruled paper. The homophone of feint - faint - means both a lack in clarity/strength or the physical act of falling into a faint/loss of consciousness.
The exhibition is a continuation of my interest in pattern, and the ways in which it has been employed and viewed historically, its potential psychological impact and the way it functions as protective colouration in the natural world. This includes ideas revolving around the value of decoration/ornamentation, and in the way it has been feminized and at times vilified - in particular its rejection by the modernist movement, most vehemently by Adolf Loos in his lecture entitled 'Ornament and Crime' in Vienna 1910. These ideas extend to my long held interest in the psychology of interior space - the ways in which we construct boundaries, protect and contain, gather together objects, display and create illusions, express ourselves and ways of living through our intimate, domestic spaces. I have been researching the life and work of modernist architect and designer Eileen Gray, and in three of these paintings I juxtapose pieces of her furniture design against those of other more prominent designers of the era. Gray was a pioneer of the modern movement, but for many decades was not recognised for her contribution, rendered almost invisible, until more recent years in which her work has begun to be reevaluated and celebrated.
Georgie Hill, Back to back (Eileen Gray ‘Nonconformist’ chair with Ruhlmann ‘Defenses’ chair), 2013. Watercolour and graphite on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Ivan Anthony Gallery, Auckland.
I predominantly work in watercolour and graphite on paper - materials that make sense in the context of my ideas. Im interested in setting up a shifting sense of recognition in terms of the imagery, patterns and shapes, a certain ambiguity or overlap of meaning. The paintings employ the use of ideas associated with protective colouration in the natural world and camouflage developed for military use, to create perceptual uncertainty - perplexing the eye and requiring the viewer to visually untangle or decipher the furniture and other objects depicted in the paintings. Watercolour seems well suited to these explorations, I see it as quite an evocative medium.
Georgie Hill, Boudoir/studio (Eileen Gray stool with Ruhlmann vanity seat), detail, 2013, watercolour and graphite on paper, courtesy of the artist and Ivan Anthony Gallery, Auckland.
In terms of what inspires and informs my work, an interest in less-known facets of history and connections between different figures. For example, Eileen Gray took summer painting courses in Normandy under Frances Hodgkins from around 1902, a connection which I find fascinating in relation to her future work. Also the relationship between Gray and Le Corbusier and the conflict of sorts that developed around her house E.1027. Built in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Cote d’Azur, between 1926 -29, E.1027 was a collaboration between Gray and Jean Badovici - though much of the design responsibility was delegated to Gray. Le Corbusier very much admired the house, and with Badovici’s permission (after Gray had vacated to build her next house), painted a series of large bright murals on the walls of E.1027, which were completely at odds with Gray’s architectural intentions. Gray considered the murals “an act of vandalism”, and was also aggrieved by the nature of his published remarks about the role of the murals in the architecture.
I think that people who are willing to move very close to the paintings, and look very closely, are surprised at the different levels of detail that slowly reveal themselves in the work. The paintings function differently at certain distances, from several meters away the objects depicted dissolve and merge into the dominating surface pattern, but as the viewer moves closer the eye can begin to decipher key objects and structures.