JO HUMMEL: LOOKING OUT
BARNARD CAPE TOWN
Using her native coastline as a starting point, Jo Hummel's work is characterised by a painted and paper collaged surface on which she employs spontaneous variations of space, colour and form. At first glance her work appears to be a physically-engaged, formal practice that is materially driven, however the context is purposefully anthropological. Many of Hummel’s works are informed by human habits and behaviour, with a particular interest in the overlap between human consciousness and imagination.
The nature of collage is that each work is in constant flux. The artist must negotiate the canvas by rearranging, choosing and adjusting, often over long periods of time. Working within the dependable environment of ritualistic systems and repetition, Hummel explores the unpredictable nature of intuition and spontaneity. The artist describes her practice as ‘a simulation of decision making experiences, governed by internal sensations such as anxiety or serenity. What is comfortable? What is satisfying? What is unpleasant? The social structures we exist in, guide and interfere with our daily choices. Our social class, religion, gender and ethnicity all play a part in what we deem pleasant or unpleasant. We turn towards pre-determined structures around us for guidance.
Speaking about the making of the work, Hummel describes her chosen material (paper) as domestic and ephemeral. An everyday surface which is manipulated with urgency using household tools such as scissors and knives. Her paintings are built up in layers and with joinery, often revealing fault lines and scars. For her the action of making is an essential ritual used to make sense of, and fuse her internal and external environments.
With their suggestion of windows and portals the resultant paintings tell a story of longing and searching. One must always be looking out from an island. The hard edged dividing lines, colours and motifs which make up her new exhibition Looking Out are borrowed from the geography and seaside paraphernalia which she documents at the coastline near her studio on the Isle of Wight in the UK.