Not A Surrealist - Just A Tasmanian!

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portrait - E.M. Christensen

Christensen has frequently been called a Surrealist, a description with which she is uncomfortable. Her paintings are playful and charming, but beneath the fantasy and Gothic imagination is a sharp and ironic sense of reality.

Figurative painting has always been a powerful means of illuminating and commenting on contemporary experience. I use traditional academic techniques and clear, glowing colours to paint complex pictures influenced by Medieval tapestries, Durer, Breughel, Romanticism, German Expressionism and modern technology, including video and computer imagery.

Add to this a childhood in the bush, which imprinted indelible patterns on my visual consciousness: writhing black shapes in silhouette against a red, golden, silver-grey or achingly blue sky; spiky clumps of sag-grass; the deep crimson glow of sunlight through smoke haze; spacial intervals between randomly-spaced rounded forms and vertical lines; deep shadows outlined in vivid green.

I like paintings you can walk around in, and am interested not in a literal representation of the natural world but in a poetic commentary on our place in it.
Although I see my world as linear, I have rejected the flattened pictorial space and simplified colour of New Realism to explore the spaces between and behind lines, as defined by objects drifting in space. I integrate the human figure into a fragile, poetic environment within an intricate tracery of flowing lines and arabesques.

By employing subtle tonal variations and classical perspective I create an ambiguous world of twisted, rhythmic plant forms, picturesquely-lit rocks and flowers, jagged pinnacles and the illusion of mysterious depths, all drawn from direct observations of nature and the country around me.

Living in Tasmania, it is difficult not to be interested in the interaction between people and nature. As a visiting friend declared upon seeing my working surroundings - You’re not a Surrealist at all - you’re a Tasmanian! I guess that says it all.

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© Copyright E. M. Christensen;     photographs of E.M. Christensen: Robina Seefluth