Michelle Ussher: Yellow Eyes Burn and Return
Yellow Eyes Burn and Return presents a series of new works on paper, recent oil paintings and a sculpture in glazed ceramic by Michelle Ussher. United by an emphasis on the handmade, and finished in luminous colours, these highly evocative works range between abstract images representative of the eye and depictions of imaginary characters. Their fraught surfaces and half-materialised forms produce a sense of history entangled with the workings of imagination and memory.
Ussher’s paintings speak dually of their own physical vulnerability and fallibility, and consider how images narrate personal and social space via their anachronistic survival throughout history. The surfaces have been painted, wiped away, sanded and repainted to suggest the effects of age and time, whereby the presence of the past is seen through traces and vestiges of earlier layers and marks. This process of visual wayfaring results from a consideration of the way final choices, economic, political and personal are settled upon through trial and error.
Several of the new oil paintings draw from imagery found while researching painted ceramic Greek burial vases and figurines dating from 350–450 BC. These images provide a rich source of human expression and potential narratives, to explore the ways in which people are shaped by their complex, often fraught, relationships with society and each other. By foregrounding the inexplicable actions of her figures, combined with the indeterminate nature of revising the surfaces in which they inhabit, Ussher’s works undermine any fixed or stable definition. Instead they offer fugitive visions of the mutable, elusive and, perhaps ultimately, unfathomable nature of human relations.