Exhibition of paintings April 29 to May 25 at Martin Batchelor Gallery
OUR BODIES BEHAVE SO DIFFERENTLY when they are submerged in water. Gravity is counteracted by the liquid support; reflection and refraction of light distort our shape; and a kind of languid, alternate-reality ensues. Victoria-based artist Lisa Hebden captures the other-worldly qualities of the underwater figure in her exhibition entitled “Swimmers.”
The paintings are oil on canvas, featuring brilliant colours and nearly-life-size or larger figures, creating a sense of intimacy and immediacy of experience—and immersion. “When people swim, there’s often a return to playful, child-like behaviour,” explains Hebden. “Of course, there’s posturing and strutting too, but also an abandonment of the restraints of land. We shed a bit of our ego when we are neck-deep in water. I’m interested in who we become when we are weightless.”
Hebden’s application of the paint mimics a certain type of “jumping into the water,” beginning with underpainting and building up layers. “This technique is also a way into the canvas,” she explains. “I basically attack the big white square with colour, then I don’t feel as precious with it. That initial, intuitive mark-making frees my hand.”
Hebden won national recognition in 2003, receiving an award from the Canadian Federation of Artists, and has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout BC. Her work has been featured in International Artist Magazine, the Vancouver Sun, and Victoria News. Her paintings can be found in private and corporate collections in Canada, the United States, Germany, and Australia.
“Swimmers” opens with a reception April 29, 7-9pm at Martin Bachelor Gallery, 712 Cormorant St. See www.lisahebden.com.
Mollie Kaye is a Victoria writer and musician.