Through inquiring into the intersection of painting and installation, geetha thurairajah considers and unsettles conventions around how histories are recoded or inverted. An incongruous, effervescent palette pervades her canvases: porous ocher, blue Monday and ultraviolet gather in a layered, ambiguous pictorial space to describe irreconcilable forms from within interiors that are the surface and location for the uninvited. The title of this work takes from Francis Picabia’s Le Salaire est la raison du travail (Salary Is the Reason for Work) from 1949.
In thurairajah's paintings, the surface of the cave wall conflates with the screen, becoming a liminal surface where seemingly disparate referents connect through atemporal narrative. How are origin stories authored and who is left dis/possessed of power once they are written? This is the kind of question that thurairajah asks when examining how language can influence hierarchical representations within culture at large. The potentiality of “alien” shadows become placeholders for misguided perceptions.
There is an equally tenuous balance at play in this series of paintings, which features a multitude of languid shapes, with a quasi-humanoid head and trailing tendrils. The figure floats on one side of the canvas, drawing the eye alternately up and down. With the quadrupeds arranged thusly, a sense of equilibrium is conjured and eerily intensified by the painting’s bright, inorganic palette. Gleaming orbs float throughout We Work to Pay Bill’s centre figure while shimmering blues, pinks, and violets glow around the ghostly outline, whose multi-tendrilled kin reappear in thurairajah’s other works from this series, Convergence (2019), Neophyte (2019), and Subtle Exchanges (2019). thurairajah’s paintings favour abstraction and graphic lines commonly consider respite within cacophonous atmospheres, a challenge facing all mere mortals. The works offer paths away from, and back to, the earth; it’s oddly comforting to discover there’s no guarantee of where we’ll stabilize or rest any more easily.
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