Belle Bassin

In her first show at a commercial space in eight years, Belle Bassin imagines the gallery as an expanded picture plane, inviting audiences into deep, contingent relationships with her multi-media forms and forces.

In a thoughtful, peripatetic catalogue essay for Belle Bassin’s ‘A Form Arriving,’ Jasmine Proust reflects on the feminism adhering to art by women, even when it is not overtly feminist in its subject matter: making art, she claims, is ‘a miracle, no less than bringing life into the world, and it is met with the same derision unless it satisfies certain criteria of the patriarchy and capitalism.’ Proust draws a parallel – an unexpected one – between the act of giving birth, and the act of artistic creation for women. In her analysis, ‘a first pregnancy is an unavoidable sort of initiation, as with your first childbirth. Mothers know they cane destroyed by being in deep relation with another, it is so commonplace for them.’

These reflections on the profound contingency of the self on others – whether that self be an artist, a member of the audience, or even some artistic object – and our meaningful dependence for definition on our social spatial, and emotional surrounds, are a useful way into Bassin’s show. Bassin’s moving-image work,  form 8, 2019, follows a pod of three bodies as they shift through public spaces, choreographed into a slow, viscous continuum of limbs. These dancers become indistinct each from the other, and perhaps the open hips of many of their poses do echo the intersubjective blending-up of birth – or what  Dana Densmore has called an ‘obliteration of self’ – as well.

‘A Form Arriving’ works across media, and abstracted paintings play with repeated line and colour. There isn a non-obvious feminism in these works, too, building as they do on the vocabularies of early women artists working in abstraction. Moreover, these paintings call us to experience our own contingency, or the way we are moved by, and move with, the ethereal essences that these abstracted forms bring into the gallery in which they sit. We are invited to experience the gallery as a pictorial space, and ourselves as mutable forms within it. The continuous present tense of the show’s title is apposite: we, alongside these forms and the forces they instantiate, are always arriving, never yet – fully, concretely, irreversibly – arrived.

This will be a unique opportunity to see this experimental, inter-media work in a commercial space. Bassin bas recently shown at the TarraWarra Biennial, and with the Bendigo Art Gallery as part of the Paul Guest Prize 2021. In this show, as across Bassin’s practice, physical forms and immaterial forces are held loosely in dynamic relationships with each other, as the artist works always towards modes of expression and connection which at once tap into the sensory and exceed it.

A Form Arriving
27 April – 23 May 2021
MARS Gallery, Victoria


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