Michaye Boulter & Jon Eiseman: Cusp

1 - 19 December 2020
Exhibition Text

Having spent her life on the sea, Michaye Boulter explores the reciprocity between landscapes and the human psyche. Devoid of human imprint, Boulter’s virginal vistas engage with the traditions of colonial painting to critically question the idea(l) of discovery. These pristine unpeopled scenes appear as revenant visions from a time long ago, precipitating the urgency of environmental conservation. Pulsing through each beguiling seascape is the distant horizon, like a void of receding recollection or emerging consciousness, conjuring a rare unfolding moment of synergy between us and the land. Boulter’s new series explores what is contained in the silence of evening when consciousness loosens and the world becomes a little quieter. ‘They reflect my experience of form dissolving’ says the artist, ‘In the half-light, what sustains and what depletes us? In the darkness, what forgotten aspects of self are restored, reawakened and realised?’. In her brooding compositions, she captures the emotional resonances that emerge in the space between light and dark, subtlety and strength, intimacy and distance.


Just as Boulter taps into these existential chasms, Jon Eiseman explores man’s search for meaning in the netherworld between rationality and the subconscious. With a career spanning over three decades, Eiseman has developed a fascinating private mythology that sees solitary figures embark on strange voyages through surreal landscapes, as if distilled directly from a dream. Masterfully cast in bronze, these characters – stand-ins, perhaps, for the artist himself – drift toward the unknown in a vast subconscious sea of possibilities. They are tropes for the future of mankind, as we too drift towards an indistinct horizon. Within Eiseman’s enigmatic iconography of bird masks, suitcases, nests and boats, we catch glimpses of the finite self-striving against the continuum of existence. The tactility and weight of bronze anchors them to the earth or buoys them in ocean, and yet there is the sense that these mystical personae might take flight or sail into oblivion the second you turn away.


In the complex merging of opposites – day and night, dreams and reality – Boulter and Eiseman together contemplate the environmental and cultural timbres of the present landscape. A subtle, shadowy consideration in these works is the colonial ingestion of the natural world. In their shared focus on the voyage – personal and historical – both artists look towards the darkness, opening up dialogues about what our journey forward into uncharted waters might look like. Positioning us on the cusp of new beginnings, there is an offering of hope in these psychological landscapes as we confront the nexus at which dark and light meet, where one can take flight towards the light or penetrate deeper into the shadows.

Installation Views