Bartley & Company Art is delighted to present our first exhibition with Wellington based artist Emily Hartley-Skudder.
Hartley-Skudder’s art mixes highly-refined, detailed and elegant oil paintings with kitsch surrounds to examine issues of consumer culture and taste. This strange juxtaposition of the high-brow and the banal everyday disrupts expectations and creates a sense that everything is not as it seems.
The resulting indeterminacy of these ‘paintings’ with their found vanity frames generates a Twin Peakian alternate reality, boundary-crossing sensibility which defies ready categorisation.
The exhibition title Vanity Factory is drawn from a song by Elvis Costello describing the Elizabeth Arden makeup factory where he once worked. A vanity is also a piece of furniture and Vanitas a genre of still life painting. With the bathroom a site for cleaning and preening, Hartley-Skudder's ambiguous objects contain multi-layered references to issues related to the body, the presentation of the body and art, recycling and collecting. Amy Weng has written: If still lives are often about the transience of life and pleasure, Hartley-Skudder's are a vision of plastic immortality, where the female body is trapped within the machine of resplendent consumption.
Underlying these often amusing interplays is also a concern with the gendered nature of both the domestic realm and art history itself. Kate Powell has observed: Within the realms of Emily Hartley-Skudder’s artwork, there is power in pastel and fortitude in femininity.
Hartley-Skudder has been exhibiting consistently around the country and in China, Australia and the US since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (First Class Honours) from the University of Canterbury in 2012.