HALF FULL / HALF EMPTY
“Great images have both a history and a prehistory; they are always a blend of memory and legend, with the result that we never experience an image directly. Indeed, every great image has an unfathomable oneiric depth to which the personal past adds special color…Primal images, simple engravings are but so many invitations to start imagining again.”
Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space (Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1994), 33
Absence in Amber Koroluk-Stephenson’s body of work Half Full / Half Empty is set as an invitation. In row upon row of Koroluk-Stephenson’s suite of images from suburbia the central subject of the house has disappeared. Literally taking on the exhibition’s title each painting has a house physically cut out of the image making it half full or half empty. After setting the stage, Koroluk-Stephenson has stepped out and allowed the viewer to fill in the void with our own images, stories and memories. And it is an easy space to fill. The image of the suburban house is a familiar one no matter which country we spent our childhood. So much so that the empty space in Koroluk Stephenson’s work retains an implication of history. Leaving the viewer’s process of interpreting the image to be part recollection and part quest, as if through our memories and projected fantasies into the space we could start to access some of the real histories behind these homes.
Half Full / Half Empty follows on from a body of work responding to the suburban environment. Throughout her practice Koroluk-Stephenson maintains an adept hand at balancing the possibilities of the nostalgic, the banal and the strange found in suburbia. Despite having the markings of picture postcards or hotel art Koroluk-Stephenson’s work never falls into the blandness of the picturesque. Her paintings have a surprisingly meaty texture, with the neatly trimmed and blooming foliage of her garden’s often sitting heavily on the painting’s surface. Aiding her escape from pure sentimentality is her compositional ability to suggest the rich potential of narrative present in these residential neighborhoods. In her works there is the sense of untold stories hidden behind the façade of the suburban home. Each image possessing individuality based on a backdrop known for its homogeny.
In this exhibition we go beyond the simplicity between optimism and pessimism as the title points to deeper questions of perception, interpretation and the imagination. In these images that seem to be simultaneously full of ghosts and clear vessels longing to be filled, our thoughts become the sole occupants of the empty homes.
-by Jess Bradford