City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

Painted Faces

26 May–25 June 2006

ARTISTS Louise Clifton, Sarah Jane Parton, Seraphine Pick, Marnie Slater

Portraiture continues to be an area of investigation for women artists teasing out issues surrounding the roles of women in society and art. Painted Faces is titled after a 2005 series of paintings by Seraphine Pick. The title suggests disguise and deceit, fabrication and embellishment—make believe. The show presents Pick alongside three other Wellington women artists who explore portraiture.

Pick produces psychologically charged portraits of imagined women. A hirsute woman in green velvet stands before a backdrop of exotic flowers. A masked woman carries a masked, long-eared lap dog.

Marnie Slater installs a bright-yellow, faux-satin curtain at the gallery entrance. In front of it, there’s a photo of a young woman—local artist Jessica Reid—who beckons the visitor to enter the space. Her image reappears inside through the show, like a gallery guide.

Sarah Jane Parton plays the ingénue, often referencing her childhood and adolescence. In her video Madison’s Lament (2006), she emerges as a mermaid from a plastic clam shell (a children's paddling pool) to an instrumental cover of Belinda Carlisle’s hit song ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ (1980). The work conflates Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (c.1484–6), the movie Splash (1984)—in which Daryl Hannah played the mermaid ‘Madison’—and Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989).

Photographer Louise Clifton places disembodied heads in unexpected domestic contexts: a microwave alcove, a mantelpiece, alongside a stereo, alongside a TV. The faces are cosmetically enhanced, with whitened skin, painted eyebrows, and full red lips. Gothic black humour.