This September Artereal Gallery is pleased to present Half-Memories, a solo exhibition of cryptic and enigmatic new paintings by Melbourne-based emerging artist Chelsea Arnott.
Utilising mixed media she creates bright fields of colour which play host to text based one-liners; many drawn from her personal diary and iPhone notes, delving into the realms of heartbreak, missed connection and grand romantic gestures. The works weave together to talk about all the ways we can love (and not love) someone.
I am lying under a glass table, I am sitting across from U on a curb taking Ur picture, U are walking into the pub in the middle of the country yellow light glowing on your face, I am at a party doing a bad job meeting Ur friends, I pass out an wake up screaming, I am sitting on my front porch and I am sorry, We are walking in a comfortable silence, I see a car crash as I am driving over to collect my beers from Ur fridge, I am sitting across from U on the lawn and we are both wondering when We might kiss. All my stories are tangling up into each other.
Fragments of ‘U’ combine to create a collective character. An assemblage of different moments coming together, intersecting thoughts that contradict and conflate one another. They are not the same person, and yet they are. This work is as much about the moments mentioned as it is about the moments not mentioned. The spaces in between, both real and imagined, have a presence within the work.
My practice feels like an ongoing process of transformation, often without any clear start or end point. Often my paintings begin with different writing processes – ie. a stream of consciousness, looking back on experiences and reflecting, journaling, sifting through iPhone notes, and more recently engaging in a songwriting practice which allows a sense of rhythm to exist in the work.
These texts are then pulled apart and fragmented. Pulling phrases and words out of their original context I paint them, placing them within fields of colour. Artworks are then strung together within series’, creating networks of feelings, sentiments and colours that interact, affirm and contradict one another. These associations can shift depending on the configurations, mediums, viewers interaction & personal associations within the texts.
My process is in its simplest form, a cycle of fragmentation and assemblage. It begins primarily by writing through an experience in a layered way (reflecting on the initial experience, the emotional reaction to the experience, letting time pass and re-reflecting on the memory). But it is hard to reflect on one experience without having it informed by other past and ongoing experiences and often this wider personal history also hovers within the work.
I’m interested in using cliches around love and relationships as an entry point into my work. In particular, I am interested in elevating pop-cultural ways of both thinking and talking about love into the space of art.
Obviously you can never say with complete certainty how people are going to engage with your work – everyone is going to bring their own subjective experiences into the work, but I guess I like my work best when it allows people to bring those subjective experiences in and reflect on their own heartbreak and desire – maybe taking them into their own space of daydreaming and reminiscing. Or alternatively, a place of speculation, navigating the texts and the associations between works, building up (often fictive) narratives.
I often think of my work as a conversation, in that the personal invites the personal.
Contractedly though, there is often a sense of the presence of something personal, but it is always hinted at in a way that is slightly concealed and slightly inaccessible. In this way my work is also interested in the conflicting ‘truth-telling’ process involved in making art which is partly personal and auto-biographical, and the impossibility of ever truly conveying ‘truth’.
Artist Statement, 2020