Erin Lawlor: Pure Drama
Painting has forever been Erin’s medium. Her childhood home was filled to the brim with artworks, many by extended family members. “I enjoyed painting and drawing from my earliest years, and being close to London meant easy access to museums and exhibitions!” says the artist.
Cutting her teeth as a young painter in France, Erin was never strapped for artistic inspiration. But interestingly, this inspiration worked in reverse. “Paris was actually very anti-painting in the 1990s. In a sense, it was a fabulous incubator in that it was a fairly hostile territory. It made me more stubbornly aware of my own path as a pure painter.”
It seems natural that Erin’s practice has been founded in and secured by the act of painting itself. Through gorgeous gestural brushwork and a rich, opulent colour palette, she creates a world where painting need not be justified. The very act of painting becomes an act of resistance, against the idea of painting as a marginal artefact and to more contemporary modes of image making.
Erin works exclusively in oil on pre-stretched canvas that she lays on the floor. Working horizontally came about gradually, as she began to work with larger brushes and more liquid paint. She lets the first few layers of a new work dry, forming a base upon which to work “alla prima” (wet-on-wet), painting over and over and with what has gone before.
“In later layers, I work back through the colours with thick-bristled brushes, so the initial tones are sometimes visible and have their importance,” says Erin. “I aspire to a coherence – so often beautiful moments that occur during the process end up being sacrificed in favour of the whole. Just as line and form need to come together so do matter and subject, however inexplicit that subject may be. It’s a constant tightrope walk!”
Erin’s latest show at Fox Jensen gallery presents a body of her dramatic, immersive paintings that were recently shown at the Mark Rothko Centre for Art in Latvia, alongside a selection of new paintings created in her London studio. Some of the new works are smaller than usual, and in a sense more gentle and self-contained.
“The mood or tone of my paintings is extremely variable, and depends on many things, including light and season,” says Erin. “It is winter still in Europe, so I hope the works don’t seem too cold in the Southern hemisphere!”
This will be Erin’s first trip to Australia, and she’s pretty sure the new surroundings will be of great inspiration to her. “I am really looking forward to discovering the space, colours, and landscape, which are by all accounts extraordinary,” she says.
She’s already hoping Aussie adventures will become a regular occurrence. “I would love to travel to Hobart, and into the Northern Territory. I have everything to discover.”
Erin Lawlor’s exhibition will be running at Fox Jensen Gallery, Sydney from 22nd February to 31st March 2018.