Review: Louise Hearman at Tolarno Galleries

Louise Hearman at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne October 2007


It was a sunny October morning but in the reverential gloom of Tolarno Galleries the only light seemed to be emanating from the paintings themselves. An ethereal light reflected from who knows whence revealing a myriad of mysterious manifestations. Aeroplanes, cloudscapes, heads (lots of heads), children and animals, rotting fruit, light and everywhere darkness.
Louise Hearman exhibitions are a Baroque experience. Her moody, painterly depictions of uncertain fields of vision are like camera obscura projections from her subconscience. Shadowy vignettes envelop her dreamy images like the darkness at the periphery of vision.
Andy Warhol was on the money when he said that what makes a painting beautiful is the way the paint is put on. That is precisely where Hearman?s work succeeds. It?s the articulate and unexpected application of paint that is so satisfying, sometimes even thrilling to see. Her paint surfaces range from lush virtuosic passages that are more evocation than description through to thin and sparse coatings that expose and utilise the warm flecked brown of the masonite support.
Jorge Luis Borges knew that a story could be ten pages long or it could be three sentences, and importantly that a three sentence story is still one worth telling. The varying degrees of finish in Louise Hearman?s paintings remind me of this principle. Her capacity to paint richly with detail does not preclude her right to be loose and sketchy.
Ultimately one can have no idea what the narrative content is. The events depicted can be recognised as episodes, moments in real or imagined time. Some are plainly hallucinatory (see the giant baby?s head on the horizon), others like mirages, are momentary delusions. A sense of ambiguity saturates her paintings. You may ask yourself, what am I looking at here? (The answer is a hippopotamus? head.) Or you may not care to know. Beauty is strange that way.

By Tony Lloyd

Tony Lloyd

Tony Lloyd has worked variously as an apprentice printer, a bank teller, a designer of blackjack mats for illegal casinos, a gardener, a barman, a telemarketer, a photocopyist, a research assistant’s assistant, a teacher and an actor in Thai music videos. He is currently an Artist and shows regularly in Melbourne, Sydney and Amsterdam. He has work in public and private collections in Australia, Europe, Japan and the U.S. Tony Lloyd lives and works in Melbourne.