Emma Aspeling ‘Because ‘just mind’ is a coping mechanism. Hulle is almal vreeslik slim maar hul hart is dom.’ 2018. Courtesy of 99 Loop Gallery.
Visual artist Emma Aspeling had an exhibition at the 99 Loop Gallery, which was an exhibition that featured the artist’s latest body of work. It was a show characterised by pieces brimming with a contemporary voice, with paintings finished with bold and sweeping brush strokes. The haphazard effect of the works belies an emotional and cathartic exhibition about painting as emotional release and the realisation of affect as representable and palpable. A strategy that allowed the artist to create works that express the ambiguity of boundlesness and contained emotional release.
This could be discerned through the long sentence titles that the works are given, and the measure in the piece that induces contemplation about the life of the painting than contemplation about the impact of the painting.
The piece titled ‘Ecstasy’ is an example of achieved emotional expression. Characterised by abstract forms, with light colours like sepia, grey and the white background speaks about a piece whose entoptic forms articulate a burst of emotional and colour. The circular strokes are also indicative of what is self referential and release as a light and emancipatory experience. ‘Look at the mess you made’ is comprised of the same colour motifs as ‘Ecstasy’, finished with the same circular and sweeping strokes. The title speaks of a realisation of frustration that is also contained. With the inclusion of a dark colour the work articulates the measure of emotional oscillation the exhibition discourses, the piece discoursing a sense of release that is tangible.
The value of abstraction is that it imbues the lack of form the works are finished with, with a measure of emotional delicacy. The achieved ambiguity between what is frail and tangible in this exhibition becomes discerned for its disruption of what is linear and related to form. It is also the measure in the exhibition that seek to articulate what is all encompassing between painting and the existential impact of emotional release. This is realised by the piece titled ‘If you feel it, its yours’, a work in which the colour dominates the paper with a combination of sepia and a subtle grey and red. The piece with its inundation of the working surface through abstraction articulates what can be boundless about emotional release. The use of a warm colour like sepia and the cold connotations of grey, speaks to the emotional oscillation between what cannot be represented and what colour can give voice to.
In the pieces with deep and bold colours, this drama between what can be represented and cannot be represented becomes overtly imbued with the emotional visual language of colour. This could be discerned in the piece titled ‘Sometimes the bigger picture does not matter’. The measure of emotional ambivelance in the piece speaks to a frustrated releases recognition of how intellectual issues are also formless and not succeptible to representation like emotional ones as well. Maroon and another dark colour, black or navy dominate this piece, without representation and form the piece assumes a boldness and palpability. Without representation strategies, abstraction allows the facility for colour to be boundless while being contained. It is a strategy that concretises the aspect in emotional release that accepts that what can be peripheral can be palpable and imbued with a palpable burst. In that bold colours articulate the measure of emotional walls that can be comprised of the intellectual as emotional.
For Aspeling it is the emotional that is paramount this could be discerned by the use of abstraction and its logic that does not espouse what is linear and imbued with form. The presence of works that are not inundated with colour also speaks to a sense of temporaneity, the brush strokes are not curt and elliptical. Rather their boldness and abstraction allow the artist the facility for a burst of colour to release the particular feeling. In a strategy that allows a measure of retrospect and contemplation as part of the experience of seeing this exhibition.
The oscillation of emotion also features some dark aspects. There is nothing morbid about this release it is just on the periphery of what is light. The piece titled ‘The news generally bores me. Tell me a heartfelt story instead’ is an example of how pieces inundated with colour are imbued with a boundlessness. In order to express the measure in emotional release that is about carthartic experiences being light and delicate like the frail use of colour in the exhibition.
The artist statement is filled with words instead of sentences that expression the ambiguity between curt intellectual experience and the protracted experience of executing the work. The writer is not stating that there is a correlation between the two. Rather a single word can help relate the moment of release and realisation. The use of words like ‘Worry’ and ‘laughter’ to name a few, express the non linear aspect in abstraction that does not rely on the linear logic of narrative to express itself. The statement is also in two languages, English and Afrikaans, meaning Aspeling is an artist interested in the moment of realisation and the moment of execution as symbiotic and that they are characterised by what is earnest.
Aspeling is an artist who is interested in giving her audience an experience rather than reproducing the moments that inspired her. This way her expression is imbued with the ambiguity of the moment of execution as emotional confluence and artistic release. The exhibition was an experience characterised by my desire to connect these emotional stories, at the heart of it I realised that is an attempt to impose a form on the works. Their reliance on abstraction and the symbolic function of colour combine to create an exhibition invested in existential experiences as protracted when expressed and artistic expression as boundless when contained in the frame of a canvas or paper.