Feast your eyes on nerves and passion

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JODY HEWITT says being human is a dance of duality.

The 28-year-old, who explores the concept in her paintings, says dance must move back and forth between uncertainty and joy for humanity to move forward in a positive direction.

“There are dualistic traits in the work,” she tells the Herald. “Nervousness and passion is an unconventional duo, like boldness and fragility but that’s my experience of life and the personality that the work has taken on.”

In Heads and Sex, which runs at the Feast Your Eyes Gallery in Fremantle till April 16, Hewitt looks at the vulnerable and precious qualities in us all.

The Claremont local also examines the themes of lust, eroticism and isolation. She says despite the ambiguity of the title the work is “quite obvious and direct” once viewed.

“One side of the gallery is a series of big lone semi-abstract heads and facing them on the other side are pictures of multiple heads or couples engaged in passionate sexual moments,” she says.

“I prefer something unpretentious and strong to overly descriptive or poetic language. Because it’s simple it doesn’t allude to anything interpretation-wise and that lets people have a reaction or feel something that’s not dictated.”

Using illustrative dark lines, Hewitt’s embrace of figural distortion is reminiscent of Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele, although Hewitt confesses to knowing little of Schiele’s work before picking up the paintbrush.

“Quite a few people to compare me to Schiele, who I didn’t know of at the time,” she says.

“I do love his work and also artists who were inspired by primitive art, and the abstract expressionist painters.

“There is no one idol but some of my favourites are Asger Jorn, Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Ian Fairweather, Cy Twombly, Basquiat, Tony Tuckson.”

The Melbourne-born artist developed a freer and instinctive style after meeting local visual artist Camilla Loveridge. She’d found many of the art classes in her hometown technically dry and uninspiring.

“The work I did in this way, things like using your non-dominant hand, not looking at the page, concentrating on feeling/physical response etc, felt true and powerful,” she says.

“I’ve found myself using this analogy about Zen calligraphy and how what I try to do is more in that vein of taking a deep breath and stepping up to the page to make a mark.

“I don’t achieve that purity or simplicity but there is honesty and beauty in the battle between intellect and instinct.

“I think people are creating themselves everyday, so we are never complete and always changing. If I could describe everything I would be bored, things would be too complete and final.”

Hewitt, who’s just left the indie-outfit Winterpark, says writing songs and painting are creatively intertwined.

“I think it’s the same circus, different tent,” she says.

“The magic moment when you lose yourself to the outside world, to thought and time, is the prize—whether it’s on stage or in the studio.”

by BRENDAN FOSTER

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