Sarah Harvey loves painting portraits of people in water. Who would have thought that something so ordinary could be captured so extraordinarily. From the textural detail of every ripple, to the uncanny clarity of the submerged figures, Harvey manages to evoke a sense of comforting retreat while exploring the sexual and fantastical nature of her subject matter. Quiet World exhibits 18 of the award-winning artist’s paintings, which take viewers on a journey through the underwater world and away from the sanctuary of the familiar. At first glance, her works seem filled with soft colors and blurred images, but on closer inspection you might notice the differences between the figures. In Cubist Water, her interests in cubism materialize in a depiction of the face from a multitude of viewpoints. Shattered Triptych focuses on the figure becoming one with its surroundings, with the water marks and the figure appearing to merge into one shape. The closer you are, the more you’ll see. “My Inspiration comes from many places, and often it is my subconscious that tends to pick it up,” she says. “It is a feeling I get when I see something that tells me if that object, view, color or other visual excites me.” Influenced by Francis Bacons’ Carcass and crucifixion paintings and works from Jenny Saville, Harvey invents her own world. “The paintings Ripples of Light and Abyss are much calmer at first look and really concentrate on the beauty of the female form,” she says. “The vulnerability of the girls’ open bodies can be seen by the viewers. But if you read deeper into them, one will begin to question if there are darker sub-tones to the aesthetic beauty seen.” Harvey’s work will be exhibited at Collectors Contemporary, a local art gallery run by Dr. Alvin Koh, who shares similar sentiments to Harvey. “Her paintings are visually arresting, transporting the viewer into her world. The paintings evoke a multitude of emotions that vary from serenity to uneasiness. However, the beauty of each painting is undeniable.” If you haven’t gotten enough of Harvey’s work, expect more from the British artist as she experiments with other elements and techniques. “I have recently become quite interested in video, so perhaps this could be something you might see more of in the future. I am also currently using imagery that I took the last time I was in Singapore of chickens submerged in water and exploring other subjects as well.” Chickens submerged in water. Watch this space.
Quiet World is on Mar 10-Apr 23 at Collectors Contemporary, #01-03 Petro Centre, 5 Jalan Kilang Barat, 6878-0103. Free.