Taking a break from art school in France, text and image based artist Maddie Tait-Jamieson explores 'Art Talk' in her new solo exhibition in Wellington.
Montpellier’s École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts is holding a place in their Master’s programme for Maddie Tait-Jamieson. She’s currently home in Wellington, taking a break from her studies to focus on her comic work. It’s something she struggles to do at art school in France because she finds it ‘hard to justify’ the often overlooked medium, especially in a second language. Her teachers in France are ‘quite brutal’. Crying daily is considered normal. ‘It’s humbling and that’s good,’ she says, ‘they’re critical in a valuable way.’
Maddie’s drawn to the directness of image and text based work and says it’s the simplicity that makes it powerful. All her art is hand drawn – she says she’s quite ‘anti-digital’ – and her writing is raw, honest and confessional. ‘I just start writing and drawing and don’t plan too much. They are thoughts that manifest themselves physically.’
She often uses fantasy creatures to parallel human issues in a comical and palatable way. ‘It displaces the viewer. They feel like it’s not them, but actually it is them.’ Werewolves feature regularly. ‘They’re a masculine fairy-tale creature and represent fear, but they’re so silly,’ she says. ‘I like emasculating them, making them cute and emotional. Humanizing them.’
Two creatures, Wolf and Unicorn, feature in Maddie’s new solo exhibition, 'Art Talk With Art Friends' at Bartley and Company Art, as a vehicle for communicating ideas in a fantastical sense. These characters appear across a different range of media and visitors to the exhibition are invited to enter Wolf and Unicorn's fictional world and 'eavesdrop' on their conversations.
For 'Art Talk With Art Friends' Maddie uses her signature graphic drawings, text, video, sculpture and wall drawings to explore the culture of the art gallery. The exhibition questions our human approach to making sense of something as enigmatic as art, in a philosophical and playful manner.
'I have become increasingly perplexed by the ways in which people talk about art,' she says. 'For example, the vocabulary art students adopt to explain their work, the need for interpretation, the dismissal of "lower" forms of art (street art, comics, "decorative" arts), the overuse of the "isms" and pseudo intellectualism in art dialogue.'
Maddie's aim is to make the art gallery a quirky and inclusive environment. A place that's relatable to those outside of art niches as well as inside. 'I want to express my work in a casual manner, playing on the formalities and sublimity often experienced in the contemporary art world.'
In her write up Alison Bartley, Director of Bartley and Company Art, describes the exhibition as 'a warm, whimsical and light-hearted examination of the anxieties confronting a young artist and the language and operations of the art world.'
Art Talk With Art Friends
Bartley + Co Gallery, Wellington
Until 22 December
First published Art Zone #75