Sarah CrowEST

In ‘SOFT EYES DUB WISE’ – the new body of work by Melbourne-based artist Sarah crowEST – a pendulum swings between firmness and transience, loudness and silence.

‘I first learnt the term ‘soft eyes’ from the HBO television series, The Wire, explains CrowEST, reflecting on a term that describes the way a detective should use their eyes to scan an entire crime scene without staring at particularities. She continues, ‘It involves seeing with awareness and using peripheral vision to see the whole with an open mind’. CrowEST describes her relaxed, open approach to assembling fragments of text and image as a form of doodling – a kind of improvisation that seeks to use ‘soft eyes’ and discern the accidental or incidental. In the paintings, areas reverberating with graphic beats and diagrammatic forms are cushioned by moments of erasure and evanescence. This optical push and pull begets an aural interplay between noise and whisper, crescendo and diminuendo – prompting the viewer to also see through ‘soft eyes’ to notice the nuance of the orchestra.

Parts of the paintings are muffled, faded or redacted; formless backdrops for CrowEST’s loud interventions of word and shape, which appear and disappear like an unsystematic backbeat. Working with linen, gesso, acrylic paint, wool and thread, the artist concocts multilayered compositions that are subtle as much as they are bold and tactile. Her distilled geometric language rendered in charcoal and crimson mimics musical notation, with staves and staffs floating around the canvas alongside abstracted soundwaves, forming a baseline that gestures towards a score of noise yet to come. ‘As a lifelong fan of sparse, glitchy sounds and dub music, I have only lately understood the persistent influence it has on the way I think and develop painted surfaces,’ reflects the artist.

30 January – 24 February 2019
Gallery 9, Sydney


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