Bennett introduces an entirely new and dominant motif to her still life, game and interior paintings set against monochromatic black grounds: volcanoes.
CHARLIE SMITH LONDON presents Emma Bennett's 'Volcano Lovers'. Known for her exquisite paintings where she sets still life, game, interior and other elements against monochromatic black grounds, Bennett introduces us to an entirely new and dominant motif in this exhibition.
Bennett's work has increasingly explored the uncanny by juxtaposing seemingly incongruous elements within a black void. Leading on from Susan Sontag's novel 'The Volcano Lover', Bennett inexplicably interweaves the volcano as motif alongside her traditional elements, amplifying the sense of cognitive dissonance further.
There is, however, a defiant internal logic within these paintings. Fruit, flowers, game, burning fires are of course memento mori. They are fulsome and life affirming but are fleeting, reminding us of the ephemeral nature of life. Bennett adopts the volcano as memento mori, but also acknowledges its threat which is, again, life affirming:
'I'm interested in volcanoes as both givers and takers of life. Life evolves out of volcanoes and it enriches the earth...it provides fertile abundance and so people set up their homes within close proximity. In Naples, Mount Vesuvius looms over the city as a constant reminder of what might happen. Yet people live here and Naples buzzes with the excitement of that danger.'
Bennett's paintings shift emphasis from still life to landscape and the volcanic harbinger takes its place as a contemporary symbol of the sublime. Its overwhelming physicality and menace induce awe and wonder. By combining the volcano with her ongoing motifs Bennett utilizes it as a 'visible metaphor for uncontrollable forces - of love, violence, of burgeoning revolution' (Sontag). We might justifiably add beauty, brutality, fear and desire.
The event will take place at CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, 336 Old Street, Shoreditch, London EC1V 9DR. Open from 11am-6pm Wed to Sat. Please contact the gallery for further information on 020 7739 4055. Follow us @CHARLIESMITHIdn