Jenepher Duncan - remix wa contemporary art

remix wa contemporary art
Art Gallery of Western Australia

Siné MacPherson

In this age of instantaneous visual language Siné MacPherson looks to systems of description of natural phenomena as a platform for her exploration of serial sequencing and visual equivalence in her paintings. MacPherson has long been interested in weather forecasts and in developing a strategy to organize her perceptions and research as paintings. In a previous painting series, Panorama (2007) she created an encyclopededic visual order for classifying the Four-Day Forecasts for the eight capital cities drawn from the weather pages of the Australian newspaper from 2004 to 2007. In her work in remix, MacPherson uses navigation handbooks from 1832 and 1927 to track the way text-based scaling systems for weather management can be progressed in canvas units to a holistic perceptual outcome.

The four paintings of Windforce (2009), which reference the Beaufort Wind Force Scale, are based on observation for communication of information about nautical sail settings. The visual narrative of these sail configurations converse with a second series of thirteen abstract paintings, State of the Sea (2009), which visualizes what sea conditions require a certain response. So a metaphorical dialogue unfolds between the sail paintings and their companion sea paintings, one charting decreasing white, the other an increasing scale of white, both progressing to a dramatic climax of extremes. These two groups of paintings, titled the Beaufort Series, whose creative impulses are both abstract and pictoral, play out a complex process of equation and equivalence - of word and image, text and painting, noumenon and phenomenon. MacPherson seems to enjoy the capacity of a restricted colour palette to create a kind of structured abstract expressionism whose orchestrated sequencing of parts towards a dramatic finale or whole draws on the dynamic conceptual configuration of Cy Twomblly's 'Blackboard paintings'.

Her most recent Rainbow (2011) paintings provide a phenomenological display of how the colours of the rainbow and the purity of the colours are affected by the size of the raindrops. 'Large drops give bright rainbows with well defined colors; small droplets produce a rainbow of overlapping colors that appear nearly white.'¹ Each of the three paintings offers a different scenario of colour sequences, from big drops with more red to small drops with less red and brighter blue, paling out to white when a mist prevails. MacPherson meticulously tracks the sumptuous perceptual effects of what happens when the precise angle between sun, raindrop and eye meets and creates the dazzling sequence of colours that is a rainbow. As ever, her paintings are extensively referenced from art history, literature and physical science texts, and these inform her excursions into abstraction that is guided by systems of natural phenomena and intense engagement with her subject, to articulate a compatible visual vocabulary.

¹ Cf http:/www.atopics.co.uk/rainbows

Jenepher Duncan
Curator of Contemporary Art
Art Gallery of Western Australia