Charlotte Handy’s art captures instances of time at the threshold between worlds. Her images, with their reduced palette and patchwork-like construction, are like the moments half-captured when waking at the end of a dream, hypnopompic figures which, though fleeting and only half seen, resonate and remain in the memory.
Such subconscious evocations always carry with them an air of mystery - as the dream dissipates we are left without a narrative for their presence, but with a nagging feeling that we should know them and their lives. The artist refers to a metaphorical “long moment” in these works, an ephemeral instant that captures the viewer yet which seems to linger long after its occurrence, like a mental reverberation or echo.
The works draw heavily from deep artistic memory; they are imbued with influences ranging from the flat, haunting perspectives of early Russian church icons to the brittle, zen-like tranquillity and beauty of Giorgio Morandi’s still lifes. It is also possible to see the influence of other artists such as Rita Angus in these works. Handy’s portraits are possessed with feelings of a strange double-edged voyeurism. We feel that privacy is somehow being breached as we look at these pieces - but is it the privacy of the subject that we are breaching, or our privacy which is being encroached on by the stares of these calm, self-possessed figures?
Handy has incorporated new subjects into this latest exhibition, notably in her dynamic, semi-abstracted bird figures. The artist cites twentieth century artist Natalia Goncharova as an influence for these mythic figures. Landscapes also return to Handy's repertoire with this exhibition, and it is easy to see the people and birds as being resident in this strange, twilight land of Handy’s imagination.