Featured artist profile by Nikita Holcombe Big Ink magazine Issue #12 December 2014

Image of Big Ink Issue #12

Image of Big Ink Issue #12

I would like to thank Andrea for inviting me into her studio where I learned more about the work in her exhibition, Gestureality. As is implied by the title, Andrea is concerned primarily with gesture. In this context, gesture can be understood as a movement that is expressive or that communicates ideas or emotions.  If you look at the work, you can see this articulated by brush stokes in painterly movement across the surface of her canvasses. Gesture becomes trace through the agency of the painter and the medium of paint.

Andrea’s painting has many of the hallmarks of performance, though it is a solitary meditative activity that is enacted without an audience. She contemplates the composition and prepares the ground. She mixes her mediums to achieve the desired hue, intensity, fluidity and translucency. She rehearses in her mind the composition of colour that she will lay down. And the movements that she will execute in, what she prefers to call “enactment” of the work. This is much as a choreographer would design movements and compose dancers to create ephemeral interactions, aesthetic and emotional expressions within the performance space.  Or as a dancer would contemplate a forthcoming performance; remembering the feel of the movements and the sequence in which they are to be executed.

Andrea may even rehearse physical movements as part of her preparation. Imagine if you will, how she would breathe, relax and focus her mind on the coming performance. To borrow from sporting parlance, she would be getting into the zone – that place where mind and body feel to be in perfect synchronicity, which is accompanied by absolute certainty that intentions will be achieved. This is a place of the spirit, where self consciousness retreats and the performer embodies the action. This is a liminal space, where a door to divine inspiration is open – spirit takes over responses that are in tune with the moment and marvelous, joyful, spontaneous and transcendent outpourings result.

Andrea paints gesturally; each work is completed with a single pass of the brush. As time lapse photography would trace the movement of dancers over a period of time; the passage of Andrea’s brushes are similarly recorded in paint.

Once her work is enacted it is up to the viewer to respond. I find these new works meditative, calming and uplifting. This might seem odd given the obvious vigour with which they are painted. I attribute this effect to Andreas very judicious use of colour, which is vivid, but never strident. She is a wonderful colourist. It is also a result of the movement in the works, which is graceful and rhythmically harmonious. Quiet areas are balanced by activity. These works are rewarding to patient viewers.

This is also true of Andrea’s structured black and white series, which hark back to an epiphany, which occurred while she was experimenting with ink, simply moving it across a paper surface with a ruler. From this beginning, her ideas have progressed to these new enacted works. We see in these paintings the beginning of Andrea’s Journey towards a Phd. I look forward to seeing where this path will take her..

Ann McMahon © 2014

Andrea McCuaig Prelude to zen III 2014 Acrylic on canvas 150 x 100cm

Andrea McCuaig Prelude to zen III 2014 Acrylic on canvas 150 x 100cm

Sensing gesture

The sense of the body approaching the metaphysical through its very corporeality is also evident in Andrea McCuaig’s work. McCuaig’s whirling forms relate directly to the gestures of the body. Constructing great, sweeping brushes by joining several conventional brushes into one, McCuaig amplifies the movement of the human hand, extending it beyond the typical borders of the body. Her paintings have an overwhelming sense of speed and velocity, but it’s a velocity released from the limits of human time, entering something like the speed of light or sound, something extra-terrestrial, bending and bouncing beyond, as well as within us. McCuaig’s work evokes the body itself as a force for the greater apprehension of reality, movement made weightless and elemental. It is little wonder her paintings seek unboundedness and light. As Susan Sontag wrote, all interpretations of dance reflect “some larger rhetoric about human possibility”. For me, dance is also a visceral reaction against the mundane measurement of time, challenging it, and changing it.

Claire Capel-Stanley
Snapshot Collective
August 23, 2014
Canberra Times, Panorama


View works from this exhibition: Gestureality

M16 show review 2014 by Claire Capel-Stanley

M16’s home in Griffith supports an industrious hive of creativity, writes Claire Capel-Stanley. Page 16 – PANORAMA – The Canberra Times, Saturday, August 23, 2014