Camille Hannah’s seductive and illusory paintings with their alluring brush strokes in rich, viscous oil encapsulated within shallow domes of convex Perspex, at once tantalise and distance the viewer at that ‘push me pull you’ threshold of vision and touch. Blooming fulgently, but nonetheless contained, like specimens under glass, the Heroine paintings convey an enigmatic “come hither” sensuality yet with an underlying intimation of remove; of ‘”…touch me, touch me not”.
Feminine, beautiful, powerful, erotic and audacious as the series title ‘Heroine’ suggests, Camille Hannah’s luxuriant, visceral paintings also harbour a subversive dark, ‘toxic’ complex base note, like that of exotic perfumes, or sonorous musical score. They are romantic, operatic, densely layered both visually and conceptually, and at the same time, condensed, held and contained, readily inviting Feminist readings.
Camille Hannah’s works encompass a raft of art-historical references. The Heroine paintings acknowledge the sensibility, palette and form of Dutch still lifes, combine the swirling voluptuous style and format of a Baroque tondo, can conjure Carravagio or Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait as departures, yet are embedded in twenty- first century gestural abstraction while conceptually vested in digital and screen technologies.
The artist paints in reverse onto the back of convex, shallow domed circles of Perspex, working with hand-made brushes, a skill she acquired during an earlier artist residency in China and which facilitate her lush mark-making, The sweep of the hand, the sway of the body is implicit in each expressive passage of paint and swathe of rich glorious colour.
The Heroine paintings are intense sensual, celebratory, with a sense of flowering, of fullness, of darkness, unease and tumult; a fugue, a paean, yet corporeal and contemporary. They are testament to the research, technical rigour, understanding of materials and the pushing of artistic boundaries that distinguish Camille Hannah’s practice.
Camille Hannah lives and works in Melbourne. She is the recipient of major awards and commissions, a finalist in prestigious prizes and exhibits throughout Australia and internationally. Her work is held in significant corporate and public collections in Australia and Europe.
Barbara Dowse, Curator