oil on board
Mori Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney
Nocturne: Images of night and darkness from colonial to contemporary, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Melbourne 23 April – 16 June 2002; Geelong Gallery, Victoria, 5 July – 1 September 2002
Louise Hearman is Australia’s leading practitioner of the uncanny. Her paintings invite the viewer in with a beautiful and familiar point of reference – a landscape; an animal; a portrait – only to have this initial illusion broken by a startling, at times sinister point of contrast – a legless figure floating above a moor; or the face of a child emerging from the anthers of a flower. It is this irrational and inexplicable characteristic that gives Hearman’s work its seductive quality.
Stemming from a school of artists out of Melbourne who deal with the darker side of life – Albert Tucker, Peter Booth, Bill Henson to name a few – Hearman since her first exhibitions has created a unique, almost gothic style with a vocabulary of potent symbols, bold, painterly brushstrokes and a masterful control of light. Taking after the surrealists, Hearman is candid about the automatic nature of her process saying that often while painting “You wake up half-way through and wonder what you’ve been doing.” That surreal tendency, and especially the pairing of nature with young girls, is reminiscent of Dorothea Tanning, with whom Hearman shares a fascination with the disquieting and the bizarre.
Born in Melbourne in 1963, Louise Hearman studied at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, and began exhibiting in 1987. Most recently, a major solo exhibition Louise Hearman: Against the Grain was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2016. In 2016, Hearman received the Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales; and in 2014 she received the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.