Amy Dynan

In Artist Profile 57, Emma-Kate Wilson wrote on Amy Dynan's upcoming show, "Sky Talk," which opens tonight, 18 November, at Stanley Street Gallery. The pair discussed the artist's time at the Hill End Artist in Residency program in 2020, the place of gesture and expression in her work, and the enduring influence of her teacher Lindy Lee.

Sydney-based artist Amy Dynan uses a harmony of figuration and abstraction within her gestural skyscape artworks, revealing her approach of maximum expressivity.

Dynan has been painting professionally since 2012, first capturing the likeness of her peers in hyperreal drawings. By 2017 she completed a Master of Fine Arts at the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, under the supervision of Lindy Lee, who had a profound effect on the trajectory of her practice.

“[Lee] encouraged me to investigate why I was drawn to hyperreal portraiture . . . and to do so, she encouraged me to look into abstract expressionism,” says Dynan. “We experimented with flung ink work and different philosophies and methodologies that would be, as I understood it, more freeing for me to play with in order for me to come back to portraiture with a deeper understanding.”

Following this, Dynan discovered she wanted to incorporate gestural, expressive movements into her practice. After several residencies and travel in France, Scotland, Norway and Iceland, the artist found herself surrounded by water and waterfalls — drawn to them as a symbol and motif in a “freeing move” to landscapes.

Dynan’s recent connection to the skyscapes developed through the Hill End Artist in Residence 2020 program at Haefliger’s Cottage, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery. Here, Dynan decided to sit still and focus on her surroundings, finding herself observing the sky’s colours.

This investigation is reflected in her upcoming exhibition, Sky Talk, with a series of large-scale pastel cloudscapes measuring over one metre high and wide. “I decided to use the sky as the motif to invite conversations that focus on our relationship to nature and the consequences of climate change,” says Dynan.

Creating during Sydney’s most recent lockdown, the works reveal a yearning for the landscapes beyond the cityscape the artist works and lives within. “The dramatic skyscape, particularly in the countryside, represents that wide-eyed expansive wonder that comes with the desire that I have to reconnect to myself, others, and nature,” says Dynan.

Working on hot press paper with its velvety finish, Dynan uses soft pastels applied with a sponge in sweeping gestural movements. The big block-like sponges allow the artist to apply layers and layers of pastel. “I’ve noticed that the way I’m creating the works is much more physical,” says Dynan. “I enjoy that feeling, and I feel they’re imbued with far more emotion.”

The transition into new mediums offers an experimental step for the artist, capturing the ever-moving sky with a slight glitch — perhaps a reminder of our heavily digitised worlds through lockdown. And ultimately, Sky Talk presents a methodology that allows us to reconnect with the landscape and environment in a time of disconnect.

This essay was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 57, 2021.

Sky Talk
18 November – 11 December 2021
Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney

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