Emily Wolfe’s new series of paintings sees fragmented or discarded objects set against backdrops of old master styled landscape paintings, which themselves have the appearance of having been salvaged from certain ill fate.
Wolfe’s paintings are characteristically enigmatic; her disarming domestic interiors heavy with absence and a pervasive sense of melancholy. The artist perfectly captures the fall of light and shadow, while expertly layering different elements and visual planes to complicate and compound our engagement with the image. Wolfe is highly attuned to the exquisite minutiae of the ordinary. She finds beauty and grace in the worn edges and chipped surfaces of everyday objects; or rather it is through her eyes that these things become anew, freshly endowed with those virtuous qualities.
The paintings in this exhibition were made during long periods of isolation, with the artist working away in her home studio, inside an old Victorian house in Oxford, England. Wolfe’s country of residence has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with much of the population repeatedly thrown back into lockdown. Vanishing Point, the title for this exhibition, seems to refer not only to that point of perspective convergence within the image, but also to a feeling that many of us can relate to; that sense of reality or purpose or even self that we feel slowly slipping away, as we stay cloistered inside, guarding ourselves against the new dangers of the outside world. Wolfe’s careful mise-en-scène buttresses the past and present against one another. Here, time is rendered at once remarkable and inconsequential, its conventions collapsed in upon itself.