Melissa Wraxall, Exhibiting Artist
Melissa Wraxall’s oil painting ‘Fade’ will be displayed at Nature Morte, I have included here an image of a pastel drawing of the same name. To see the impressive painting at 150x120cm come visit us during the festival.
"This painting of a peony, starting to brown and droop, is in the tradition of memento mori,recalling the genre of Dutch 17th century still life, and Van Gogh’s series of fading Sunflowers. The large size and unstretched canvas, however, is intended as a subversion of the usual “domestic” proportions and ornate gilded frames. Throughout art history, since female artists were as a rule, prevented from attending life drawing classes, still life was regarded as an uncontroversial subject for women, leaving the large history paintings (the serious stuff) to the men. One hundred years since some women got the vote in Britain,female artists are still under-represented in the gallery system despite vastly outnumbering male students in Art Schools. Therefore, this oversized pink peony can be seen as symbolic of the way that half the population, across all walks of life around the world, are actively ignored, underpaid and undervalued by those that hold the power.
Central to my painting practice is the materiality of the oil paint itself; choosing when to control the behaviour of the medium and when to allow gravity to exert its force, producing drips and runs. I am exploring different ways to apply and remove the paint and expanding the kinds of gestures or marks that can be made, using brushes and solvent-soaked rags. “Fade”, like most of my drawings and paintings, is also an investigation of the notions of ephemerality and transience. I usually address this theme using found historical photographs of people, some taken decades before I was born; this painting however, takes as its starting point, some photographs that I have taken recently of peonies at different stages of growth and decay." Melissa Wraxall, 2018.
Wraxall’s paintings have a sumptuous quality that is created by working in layers. She suggests in her statement that this mirrors the subject matter; the paint drips naturally and she works, painting, in an intuitive controlled manner. The creation of ‘Fade’ mimics the peony it depicts; the flowers raise their heavy heads then droop in demise. Reminiscent of a Seventeenth Century Dutch Still Life.