IN THE GALLERY: Thunderheads

Abbey McCulloch

1 - 25 Jun 2011

Thunderheads is the latest body of work by Abbey McCulloch, two-time Archibald finalist and recently identified as one of Australia’s ‘50 Most Collectable Artists’ for the third year in a row by Australian Art Collector magazine.

In Thunderheads McCulloch continues her exploration of women, focusing in on the complexities of what it means to be a woman in current times. Now in her thirties, her vibrant paintings address familiar concerns about relationships, ageing and the possibility of motherhood, merging themes of social and societal norms with personal experience to convey a unique perspective on these issues.

As the show’s title suggests, there’s a sense of anticipation underpinning this body of work. Thunderheads are the clouds that form before a storm, signalling it’s coming. So too, the pressures of growing up and growing older build, gaining momentum before some form of resolution is achieved.

‘This slowly mounting pressure I feel reminds me of a looming thunderstorm, the temper of bad weather building up and unleashing. The drama of a nearing thunderstorm feels both aggressive and invigorating. The Thunderheads series reflects elements of this sort of impetuous anticipation.’ (Abbey McCulloch, 2011)

‘Her subjects are at once brave and vulnerable, glamorous and self-conscious, ostentatious and self-controlled offering a version of beauty tainted by the unsettling and strange. The beauty of McCulloch’s women is in the way they are rendered, for they are raw and unconstrained.’ (Jess Berry Flying Colours Catalogue Essay, 2010)

The figures are uninterrupted by background, positioned against a single colour field. Stripped of identifiable information we have little sense of context forcing us as viewers to bring our own information to bear on the works.