Lashings of Ginger Beer

July 9, 2013 § 3 Comments

Tomboy, Emma Beer, 2013, Acrylic on Linen, 60cm x 50cm

Tomboy, Emma Beer, 2013, Acrylic on Linen, 60cm x 50cm

Emma Beer is a painter’s painter. The formal qualities of her work are front and centre, in a tradition that harks back to Modernism. And like some infamous Modernist painters, Beer has a big personality. Her latest exhibition, Lashings of Ginger Beer, like her previous solo exhibition The Informalities of Shit Miracle, refers to a nickname she is sometimes called by, inextricably and unashamedly linking Emma Beer as Artist to her paintings.

It’s really refreshing to see a woman doing this, as it’s something that is (and certainly has been) mostly engaged with by male artists. And before anyone accuses me (like former PM Julia Gillard) of ‘playing the gender card’, I’d like to draw your attention back to the problem as I’ve described it before, and remind you of the valuable work of CoUNTesses in Australia, and Guerilla Girls in the USA. Work that still needs to continue.

I will say again and again that I think women artists in general need to have more confidence in themselves and their work. And- it sounds cheesy, but it’s true- to work on their ‘brand’, their public, professional persona. I don’t know if Emma Beer thinks about this, but regardless, it is working for her.

Beer has presented a very bold and experimental body of work, building on the style of painting that she has been developing since art school. Her use of colour, texture, and layering has always been magnificent, but Lashings of Ginger Beer pushes all three to a new extreme. The colours she uses reverberate from deep black to intense colour right back to chalky white. Scraped, transparent streaks of paint and translucent linear brushstrokes give a sense of depth, while thickly smeared oil paint occasionally brings you back on top of the surface. Each layer, each colour, and each composition demands to be enjoyed, and it would be very hard not to give in.

Jacqueline Chlanda puts it best in the exhibition catalogue- Beer’s paintings “take – and give – great joy in painting”. They become the medium for transmitting the painterly joy of Emma Beer to the viewer. They are not separate from, but rather an extension of the artist- and that is a really powerful thing.

Lashings of Ginger Beer continues at PhotoSpace Gallery at the ANU School of Art until the 14th. Weekends by appointment with the artist.You can see the works at Jas Hugonnet‘s online gallery but don’t miss the real thing.

§ 3 Responses to Lashings of Ginger Beer

  • Having confidence in your work is important and is a quality that should be praised regardless of gender.

    While at art school I was constantly being told that being an egotistical (making work referencing yourself) and confident male artist makes your work less valid. That by taking on these strategies of identity you’ll just be seen as an artist interested in money and power. All the whole having to hear female artist of a similar nature be praised as brave.

    It’s not just female artist that should be engaged to feel good about themselves (what confidences is) and it’s dangerous to do so. It’s all artists that should feel this way.

    Always happy to have these discussions

    – JL

    p.s – good emmy…we should talk about it soon.

  • Hi James,
    Yeah, I agree it’s important for all artists to be confident in their work, and I don’t agree with whoever at art school said those things. I don’t think that making work that references yourself as a male artist makes your work less valid at all- unless you’re purely pushing the ego and don’t have the substance to back it up (which obviously wouldn’t be the case with you). I reckon in either case (male artist or female artist) you just have to have a good reason to be doing whatever you do, and because so many (white) male artists have made egotistical work in the past- and often to the exclusion of other voices, female and otherwise- it can be more difficult to justify.

    But all artists can do is develop work that they want to make, make it with conviction, and take care to position themselves and their work in the context of the history and theory that people will understand it in. And it helps when peers support each other’s great work, which luckily happens a lot in Canberra and especially amongst the graduates that come out of the art school.

    P.S. Your recent collaborative show with Kate (This is Graphics) is a great example of confidence that isn’t tied to gender or (a singular) ego… Interesting!

  • John Acquilina says:

    Just make good art, fuck yo’self

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