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Timelessness (a response to work by Serena Curmi)

Text for artist website.

Fragments, captured-caught, still fleeting and floating, half-fixed. A photograph, a thought, a memory… mountain upon mountain.


Mountains fade, half-lit, disintegrating into the distance. Smudged at the edges, watery landslides of pigment are wiped away to form ledges. Shades of pink, purple and midnight blue seep between the grain of rock and canvas, caught in the creases and crags; colours found somewhere between nature and our imagination. 


Framed against skies that weep the same dry tears, they hover above and below the surface. Marks scratched out and ingrained only to be covered over again. Landscapes form fleetingly beneath towering peaks, leaving behind traces and shadows. The specifics of place are redundant here, these are All mountains, not a, or the. Yet small concessions are made to locale, a hint of treetops emerges from the mist, a glacial lake littered with ice floes lingers for a second – an accident or a figment of our imagination?


Whether caught within weft and weave, or layered between resin, Curmi’s mountains feel familiar yet faraway. Held from grasp, we are distanced, as if staring back at a glimmer of shoreline from the sea. These aren’t places to be reached, they are something (and somewhere) else: fragments, traces, vestiges, woven within and without time. 


Like memories, their pink and purpled hues sit like bruises, impressed upon the surface and then remembered to mottle and mark the layers below. In some, water clogs the surface, in others it is stripped away – the effect is the same; searching, we are only ever able to bring fragments into focus. Imperfections indent glassy layers, aging each image, buried beneath mist’s muzzle.


Old photographs spring to mind as we forage for reference lost within Curmi’s own wilderness. Memories amassed from multiple histories create their own time, whilst nostalgia lingers throughout, whispering. Loss, or loneliness clings to the surface. 


With this nostalgia comes a sense of loss, or loneliness, perhaps the pervading force behind Curmi’s work. Whether disappearing mountaintops, wistful figures (as in her previous body of work), or the lonely faces of asylum patients in her portraits’ series, we are always on the outside. 


Outside, looking in, lost amidst the mountain tops, thumbing through yellowed photographs, searching, wiping away the dust and stains. The mist settles and shadows linger, works whisper: we can’t be reached… 

Image: At the Mouth by Serena Curmi. Photograph © Serena Curmi

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