Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gympie Regional Gallery - Artists of the Atelier

If identity is found through desire then the work of artist Charmaine Lyons, a self taught fine art photographer, explores this journey to the letter.  ‘Artists of the Atelier’ is Lyons first solo show, marking a pinnacle in her professional career.  This exhibition presents her most recent body of work undertaken over the period of the past twelve months.  Her work for Artists of the Atelier is testament to the integrity of her project.  Lyons views the world through the lens of the female photographer. Meticulous in her attention to detail she seeks to understand and embrace her own identity as an artist through the observation and immersion in the processes of her peers.

Lyons has specifically chosen the word ‘atelier’ over ‘studio’ for its allusion to a sense of mystery and the intrigue we hold for the artists’ work space; the inner sanctum.  The experience of viewing an artists work, particularly those we are moved by often inspires awe and fascination… the wish to know more. This artist’s intrigue for other artists has led to her invitation to enter the private space of the studio of each of her muses to document their inner worlds.  The collage components of the work portray the individual artist’s unique approach to their practice.  It is the uniqueness and difference of each artist and their atelier which is the focus of Lyons' work.

As a photographer Lyons struggles with day-to-day portraiture and emphasises there must be an underlying, gutsy reason to take a photograph.  She looks for a message behind everything she does, to take the work beyond the personal to the universal.  Her focus on the process allows for the evolution in the work to show itself, rather than fixating on the outcome.  It is most apparent this project has been undertaken with the utmost care and respect for her fellow artists.  The honour for her subject, which this artist holds, is evident in the open countenance of each of her subjects.  Be assured the artists involved would never have opened their doors as widely if this had not been the case.  There is a special unspoken language between artists; much is communicated between them with just a glance. We as viewers are invited to enter this private domain.

At the outset of the project twenty-two artists were approached and photographed, Lyons’ criteria being artists who are based in the region.  This artist’s intensely undertaken dedication to producing a body of work of the level of excellence presented here, has been developed via a long period of engagement. Lyons' expertise allows her to transform gruelling technical skills for editing and selecting purposes. Her use of light and attention to the formal constructs of her images at times lends an almost painterly element to the work.

Her process has resulted in the paring down of material and the honing of her concept.  The language of which has been revealed to her only through her absolute surrender to her investigation.  As we come face to face with the artists presented in ‘Artists of the Atelier’, intrigue leads us to wonder at the intimacy and immediacy portrayed here.  Perhaps it is the artist herself made visible through her own desire for identity?

Meaghan Shelton
Guest Reviewer

17th November 2015 - 2nd January 2016

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