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In Ecstatic Motion with Featured Artist Gabrielle Lord

From the 28th February our window space at Chalk Gallery will be dedicated to the work of Lewes painter, Gabrielle Lord. Her latest collection of paintings is entitled "In Ecstatic Motion" inspired by the following quote by the poet Rumi;

"Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion", Rumi.

Capturing the figure in motion is not for the faint-hearted among artists, and Gabrielle has worked hard at this impressive ability over several years. She draws regularly from observation, using models from a wide rang of sources. The paintings are then developed through a process of loosely layering the colour, line and mark-making. Working in acrylic on gessoed board, canvas or wood panels, often embellished with further charcoal drawing, and finally fixed with an acrylic matt or gel medium. The process of layering and building the image over time is clearly integral to the work and reflects the time spent with the figure, who will be moving, breathing, changing while their image is recorded. The end result is a work which is suggestive of that state of flux, a captured moment, as if in a minute everything could be moving once again.

Gabrielle regularly draws from live figures in her practice; traditional life models, but also dancers, skaters, and more recently circus performers. She seeks out energy and movement. In her own words she explains, "For a while now I have been striving to capture bodies in motion and the passage of time. My work has centred around dancers and skaters occupying their physical bodies in a heightened state of awareness. But now I am intrigued by the magic and spectacle of circus, the colour and excitement, spit and sawdust, the suspension of disbelief and the wonder, the whole sensory experience".

With the beautifully muted palette one could be forgiven for thinking of Picasso's Rose Period paintings in which he also painted the Saltimbanque - traditional circus people, with haunting resonance. It is true that there is something fragile and transitory about a circus performer's lifestyle and relationship to the world, which Picasso emphasised heavily. Looking again at Gabrielle's work however. it is clear that this is a much more celebratory and enlivened response to the subject. Her figures are strong and impressively in command of their bodies, performing and moving with confidence and vigour. Gabrielle sums this up in her own words; "these women performers are extraordinary individuals, not only for their artistry but also their incredible grit, resilience and strength."

In my opinion, the subjects of Gabrielle's artworks have certainly embraced Rumi's advice; not 'acting small' but commanding the space of the canvas with expressive confidence. Spending time with these paintings can maybe allow us to dream a little bigger too.

Don't miss Gabrielle Lord's featured artist exhibition at Chalk Gallery from 28th February to 21st march.

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