In recent years new media technologies and digital networks have enabled the extraordinary expansion of mass communication and the rise of social media. As a number of commentators have observed, this cultural shift towards constant connectivity has had profound implications on how we define the social, how we communicate with each other, and even how we construct our identities. Some critics contend that it has dramatically altered our appreciation of and propensity for solitude, limiting not only the opportunity but also our capacity for being alone. On the other hand, others argue that the social in social media is merely an empty vessel and that, in the wake of its increasing ubiquity across all aspects of life, a new kind of human isolation is emerging, characterised by the lonely individual in the connected crowd.
In this age of the networked multitude, it is a timely opportunity to consider the condition of solitude as explored by artists over the past several decades. Drawing predominantly from the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection with selected loans, Solitaire reflects on aspects of solitude through the depiction of the singular human figure in modern and contemporary Australian art. Represented in manifold guises and divergent contexts, the lone figure recurs throughout the exhibition within vast landscapes, enclosed urban and domestic environments, involved in everyday activities, and caught up in isolated moments of introspection and self-reflection. These works prompt us to contemplate the nature of aloneness and the various psychological and emotional states which it can engender.