ArtLyst reviews Lee Maelzer’s first solo show at Poppy Sebire
The Hypnosis of Error is Lee Maelzer’s first solo exhibition and takes place, quite appropriately, in a hidden converted Victorian church hall, AKA ‘Poppy Sebire’. I say ‘appropriately’, since it is the idea of the ‘hidden’ that fascinates Maelzer, her work bringing to our attention that we would not normally notice, exploring the interrelationship between matter/object and scenery/context amongst cityscapes, forests, beaches and unidentified rooms.
At first, her work appears to consist merely of a collection of photographs. But this impression is quickly reversed; Maelzer plays with the thresholds between painted and printed, for example corrupting the surfaces of her photographs by exposure to acidic chemicals. By manipulating and creatively sabotaging everyday vistas, Maelzer endows her work with an air of darkness. But there is an ambiguity: perhaps the artist alludes to corruption and decay within life itself; or she maybe her interest lies in how an image can be deconstructed – how its weight can be changed. Maelzer speaks of how, as she paints, she often softens or changes her view of the photograph, and this adds a further layer of complexity, with the final images being generated through an interaction between the photographic image and the mental.
Maelzer’s work confuses the eye as it attempts to identify and distinguish between the dimensions and autofocuses of a camera, and the painter’s second-hand depiction of that focus. There is something in Maelzer’s drab colour palette that has the surprising effect of adding perspective rather than flatness. Hard shadows and lighting draw our eyes to a focal point, or tempt them to search the subject’s corners and crevices. Maelzer’s autumnal forest painting is a particular highlight: the painting uses the same rushed brushstrokes common to her catalogue, but it here creates a near-angelic impressionistic light that entices the viewer into the mystery of the piece; where does the path through the foliage lead to? What is within, and who else knows about this secret world?
Maelzer’s work, however, is not wholly successful: if the point is to change our outlook on what we ignore, surely the work should make the subject more appealing than it is in reality, but the dingy palette occasionally undermines this objective. Some of Maelzer’s paintings are certainly captivating, but others are less so: the documentation of the ordinary is sometimes just too ordinary. Words: Beatrix-Blaise Jacot de Boinod © 2011 ArtLyst
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