Mountain Pony Face
Wellington St Projects, Sydney
Influenced by a love for the natural landscape and her formative years spent
in regional Victoria, Anthea Kemp’s work explores familiar landscapes, memories and reflections of the beauty found in nature. Using the process of painting as nostalgic relief of a significant place, she connects geological motifs and organic forms with personal experiences. Through her process of painting the terrain of hills
and lowlands are re-imagined and abstracted, though a landscape scene is always present. In her most recent body of work, Mountain Pony Face, Anthea presents
a panoramic display of reflective paintings responding to her desire to maintain
a connection with the landscape of her home. Nicknamed her ‘Pony Paintings’, these portraits of ponies embedded into idyllic landscapes mark a shift in Anthea’s practice, extending her exploration of landscapes of personal significance
to a figure most important to her, the pony.
The paintings in this exhibition serve as both a response to, and the creation
of, Anthea’s personal narrative for these ponies. They also convey her desire
to be reunited with her first and most treasured pets; Fantasy, Daisy and Hokey Pokey. She affectionately recalls days spent leading paddock ponies around
the garden, riding along fence lines of the bush, wishing that one day they would
be free to roam where they pleased. Anthea reclaims the iconography
of a childhood pony crush, drawing on precious photographs and adored images found in books never read. Her practice involves working on many paintings at once before completion, she allows them to inform one another, creating one coherent feeling of nostalgia and imagination. In this series, the actions of the artist’s hand are unmistakably clear, the textural surface and visible brush marks work
to maintain a connection between artist and these landscapes. Anthea’s works bounce between story telling and depictions of the landscape, creating a playful dialogue with the viewer. Sitting somewhere between the natural and artificial, Anthea has created a blissful new world for her ponies, they graze happily through dreamy terrains of yellow hills, sweeping mountain plains, grey skies and wild ocean seas. The scenes are ambiguous and disorientating, you are invited to decipher where these ponies roam free.
Dancing between abstraction and representation Anthea’s paintings in Mountain Pony Face are a testament to her talent for exploring familiar environments
and depicting their beauty. There is a rare and honest sensitivity in Anthea’s practice, less concerned with accurate illustration but with paintings ability
to play with our sense of reality and awaken our imagination.
By Ashlee Baldwin