Corrie Chiswell: Remembrance/Er Cof @ Off the Wall Gallery
Words: Madlen Davies
‘Remembrance/ Er Cof’ both confronts and blurs the line between fantasy and reality, as is often the case with memories. This is apparent technically in the way that Chiswell paints her models. The forms are simultaneously highly life-like yet very stylised. She juxtaposes the detailed focal points of the paintings, whether human models or still life objects, against stark, monotone backgrounds in the same way that the mind remembers only dominant details.
The collection is vibrant, mythical and with references to the Grimm brothers’ fairytales. She has cleverly utilised characters such as Pinocchio and Little Red Riding Hood. These characters are usually associated with children’s literature, yet in Chiswell’s vision, they are metamorphosized into commonplace characters in a dark and adult world. The pieces were created in remembrance of the artist’s late grandmother, and so for me one of the most interesting features of the work is that the Chiswell has inserted a fishing float that once belonged to her grandmother into the collection. It is a symbolic addition to the portraits, inviting us to investigate its physical and metaphorical presence. Practically it is a flotation device; a decoration; a beautiful object depicted in gloriously accurate photorealism. Yet it is also a prop heavily vested with emotion. A sentimental object and totem of the artist’s loved one, an object with which the characters in the paintings are inextricably associated. It becomes anthropomorphic, its identity as either sinister or comforting (or both) never quite made clear. In this way, Chiswell thoroughly probes the process of remembering, making her latest collection complex, mature and definitely worth a visit.
In Remembrance is at Off The Wall Gallery, Landaff, Cardiff until 12 Oct. Admission: Free. Info: 029 2055 4469/ www.galleryoffthewall.com.