Sarah Biggs’ sophomore solo exhibition, Waiting for Rain, sees a complex dance play out between two enduring partners. Chaos confronts and converses with its ancient mirror: the joyful and relentless belief in meaning and logic, in patterns and explanations. It is a conversation simmering in the medium itself – surfaces which are constantly moving, forming, becoming; pigments which seep and meet each other, expand like gases or explode like gunpowder. It is a terrible cliché in art writing to describe “fevered brushstrokes” – far better to say that Biggs’ brushstrokes are in fever, the lucid oils sweating out – and breathing in – visions of dreams and disaster.
This conversation between confusion and epiphany is also apparent in the figures Biggs represents. In a significant shift from her debut exhibition, Further Afield (2015), Biggs now zooms in and focuses on the human figure rather than presenting it as a humble constituent within an overwhelming, precipitous landscape. The impasse of chaos and meaning, of weariness and faith, plays out on the faces of her subjects, in their searching, upturned gazes, their hands which clasp anxiously or hold out instruments of science. It is the very human need for explanation, for exposition and exegesis that Biggs reminds us of here, in a fierce – and fiercely loving – combat with the chaos of both her medium and of her context. It is both a surrender to its enormity, its inevitability, and a quiet yet stern modelling, a breaking in, a pull to some direction, to some material manifestation, some tangible tautening in hue and viscosity.