Chloe Early, a leader of the new contemporary painting movement, latest body of work is a collection of oil paintings whose colours radiate forth from the aluminium panels they are painted upon. The pieces are inspired by Bernini’s infamous mid-1700s sculpture. The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. A century beforehand Theresa, a nun, wrote vividly of her visitation by an angel: “The pain was so great, that it made me moan: and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.”
It is the state of ecstasy, both spiritual and otherwise, that Chloe examines in Suspended. Painting the pieces, the artist was compelled by “the role of wonder and rapture in art,” and equally a lack of it in contemporary society: “In Renaissance times wonder and rapture were expressed through the worship of God and depicting religious imagery,” she says, “What do we worship these days? I decided that in these works I want to transcend all the background noise and elevate my figures out of the mundane and into a more celestial space, suspending them there for the viewer and for myself.”
GRAVITY & WEIGHTLESSNESS
In the piece Something Shiny Slips Away, the starkness at the core of our society is represented by the subjects in thrall to helium balloons in primary colours – symbols of excess, celebration, and, ultimately, transience – frivolous, yet temporary. In direct contrast other pictures such as Queen of the Wild Frontier show their subjects in pursuit of an owl, traditionally a symbol of the timeless, everlasting power of nature. Loose feathers flutter in the composition suggesting struggle and perhaps the fall of angels.
Besides religious art, Suspended also alludes to the Romantic movement – itself a reaction to an increasingly mechanised, secular era and a consistent influence upon the artist. In either sense, the figures strive for a higher purpose: “They are caught in a moment of weightlessness, between a rise and fall, ‘suspended’ in their endeavours,” says the artist, “will they achieve Theresa’s ecstatic state or die trying?”
Want to see it yourself? Check The Outsiders London from friday 4th of April 2014 to Saturday 3rd of May 2014