Le coeur encore brings together a group of new paintings by London based artists Stefania Batoeva, Pam Evelyn and Francesca Mollett. Drawing broadly on inspiration taken from hydrofeminism, psychoanalysis or the metaphysical (and metaphorical) essence of weather and the natural environment, the works included in this show ultimately find synchronicity through their expressiveness, where form and meaning is loose and ambivalent. The title, taking its name from a painting by Batoeva, perhaps suggests trusting in one’s intuition, staying with the abstract and allowing oneself to return again and again to a place of feeling and imagination unencumbered by self-consciousness. ‘Le coeur encore’ also speaks of the core, the centre or meeting point of body and mind.
Using a process where the outcome is dependent on physical application rather than aesthetic decision making, Pam Evelyn’s focus is to paint acting from impulse, chance or frustration creating different tensions across the canvas surface that enable her to produce a kind of organised chaos in paint. Her drips, streaks and smudges form a palimpsestic surface where the marks have the capacity to evoke material sensations without lingering on a particular name or fixed meaning. Evelyn maintains a sensitivity to the structures and hidden gestures that may reveal themselves in the work through a process that she likens to “a mist rising”. These marks may appear as non-representational forms as well as become visible as more recognisable suggestions of figuration and landscape.
In Stefania Batoeva’s paintings, boundaries collapse: dreamlike, half-figures seemingly caught in suspended animation merge with their surrounding landscape whilst symbols and shapes appear and dissolve on the canvas surface. Drawing from autobiographical experience and an exploration of the subconscious, Batoeva’s paintings can be interpreted as psychoanalytic exorcisms or a purging of that which might lay concealed or suppressed deep within the artist’s psyche. She describes her experience of painting as though she were in a relationship with a living being: “I am on equal terms with the painting. It speaks, I speak back, it can be silent or in a deadlock for months, meanwhile I have changed, read something new, found a new set of tools to respond. The painting itself has also changed in that time. I see it differently. It is a love affair and fight.” For Batoeva, her paintings become proxies for the relationships/struggles she experiences with loved ones (both people and things) beyond the studio in the outside world.
Influenced by material feminism, Francesca Mollett uses paint as a way to connect bodies with bodies of water, asking: “how can I destabilise the boundary between body, water and landscape, begin to 'think with water' as I think with painting?” In her paintings thresholds collapse and fold in on themselves, the material body dissolves and structures liquefy. With oceanic energy, Mollett moves paint across the canvas surface like water; waves of paint chaotically rise and crash whilst elsewhere smooth whirlpools swell and still.
Describing her paintings as “abstract interior landscapes” merging bodies of water with underground worlds, Mollett’s images appear to drift inwards, connecting deeply with the emotional – mystical, even – and that which is secret or hidden. Light bleeds through the cracks of seemingly subterranean environments, pockets of the canvas glow amid dark shadows and seeping from cavernous depths.