Since our first encounter with Prudence Flint’s work at her presentation with Mother’s Tankstation at Art Basel in Basel last year, we’ve been obsessing over the intimate, interior scenes. Painted in subdued tones and flat planes, they wordlessly speak of potential and dignity. And after having the privilege to include her work in ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture we co-presented with Sugarlift in NYC in January, we are excited to see her solo exhibition opening with Fine Arts, Sydney, on May 13th.
“The Wish is another word for desire,” the Melbourne-based painter explains about the title of this intimate showcase that will include five new, big scale works. “But I prefer the word “wish” because it has associations to my childhood, connected to fairy tales and stories, the wishing tree, a final wish, wishing wands, death wishes, themes of loss, violence, and entering into new landscapes.” Back in Sydney after 3 years, this exhibition will mark her debut with the gallery and will reveal new works that the artist has been concentrating on the past year. “These five new paintings are pretty much one year’s work,” she told us about the thread connecting these particular pieces. “There are certain intensities, preoccupations, and compulsions that have carried the work in this particular year.”
Through her work, Flint fervently reflects on a history of misrepresentation as she creates space for burgeoning empowerment. “I am fascinated by how women have been represented historically in art and in the media,” the artist told us in our Winter 2020 interview. “I think, all through time, women have been up against the limitations of their representation. They have been written out of history, their reality “unnamed” and denied meaning. We are so accustomed to this, and it is ingrained in our culture everywhere we look. It is as if women are unrecognizable if unrelated to male desire. Women are always in relation to lack, constantly up against unconscious bias. I wish for women to be at the center of things… to be all things, whole, boundless, perverse, and representative of humanity. I want to give voice to this experience of being alive, now, in this culture, as a woman.”
In order to construct the timeless settings of her work, she approaches her creative process with dedication, and incrementally progresses from loose pencil drawings to refined renderings that employ the techniques and traditions of figurative painting. “I let the paintings go where they need to go,” Flint explains of her creative process, revealing the deep connection she develops with each of her works. “I sit with them and give each one a lot of time. I surrender to a process. It is rarely a decision. I like it when a sense of excitement, agitation, and subversion leads me on. If I feel myself getting restless or bored, I move on, put a painting away until I feel differently.”
The manner in which the body of work is installed at Fine Arts’ new space in Sydney is a fitting presentation for this moment in time. Hung in a “socially distant” display amid the timeless imagery within the Victorian venue, thespan and stillness invite contemplation and the suggestion of a hopeful future. “No opening for me is OK,” Flint finally tells us about the global scenario in which her exhibition is taking place. “I plan to cross the state border and see the show at some stage. I’m curious of this being a different kind of show. I still feel the work will be seen. It’s a sparse show in a new space. I’m looking forward to seeing that.” Quietly complementing each other with their afternoon color palette, geometric composition, and cast of strong female subjects, the quiet images continue the artist’s committed pursuit to capture the power in the unspoken. —Sasha Bogojev
All photos courtesy the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney