Collezione Maramotti presents Field, the first solo exhibition in Italy by English artist Phoebe Unwin, featuring a series of new drawings and paintings made specifically for its Pattern Room.
The title of the show holds many different connotations. The “field” could be a landscape, but also a color field, or the field of vision. It is an in-between place, a traditional subject in painting, which allows the artist to hover between figuration and abstraction, to investigate the formal aspects of her medium. Investigating the concept of landscape and how the human figure interacts with its surroundings, Unwin uses painting to construct a delicate alternation of horizons, whose varying distances elicit different paces of observation. The layered, porous surface of her works and hazy depiction of her subjects also generate a dynamic kind of vision within each painting, and an intimate link between the works.
The starting point for the entire project is a painting from 2017, Approach, which shows a suspended encounter between two people; here and there, their outlines blur into the landscape, which is thus moulded by perception. Alongside her interest in exploring perception through color, form, and combinations of the two, and in studying visual paths and emotional reactions, Unwin investigates how different tempos and rhythms can operate inside a work. Through a process that moves from abstraction to figuration, where matter becomes sign and figures swim up out of color, Unwin creates images that seem to float within an indeterminate space and time. The artist herself has said that looking at paintings is “a physical, felt experience, and, in some sense, always in the present.”
Influences from art, literature, film, and private life are freely reworked here, becoming open-ended images that Unwin incorporates into her exploration of painting as a process and action. Her paintings are visual places whose possibilities are infinite; the intrinsic story of the works is neither defined nor definitive and new versions of it are constantly revealed, emerging through the viewer’s active gaze.
Exploring how abstraction and figuration can blend together and overlap, Unwin invites us to reflect on the complexity of small, seemingly trivial moments, while she probes and pushes the boundaries of painting as a means of expression. Rather than drawing inspiration from photographs, or from the sea of images that flow through the web, the artists works from personal memories or from the drawing pads where she sketches her everyday life. The Collezione Maramotti already holds one of her works from 2015, the same year that Unwin was shortlisted for the sixth Max Mara Art Prize for Women, organized in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery.