Across Thea Quiachon’s landscapes, the figure of a woman looms, ghostlike, nondescript. She is barely there, her presence made perceptible only by tiny figures milling about, walking, diving, swimming, painting — perhaps just as lost in the indefinite terrain of her existence.
An artist with a markedly limited palette, Quiachon pares down her recent series, Unlearning, even further to blues and whites that call the delicacy of fine china to mind. However, the weight and opacity of the artist’s distinctive impasto layers shatters the illusive porcelain. In deluges of cobalt and expanses of ivory that swallow the figures, big and small, one can locate the artist’s yearning to retrieve and raise one’s soul — that which has been concealed, congealed by the layers ideas and expectations that have built up on and around it through time. So begins the artist’s process of peeling the paint of a second skin.
Customs and beliefs, habits and ways. They drive and consume the figures, make up the very stuff of their being. Quiachon, however, asks: how do we begin to rid ourselves of these things we never even realized we were picking up, accumulating, bearing along the way? When did we decide they were good or bad?
‘To Raise A Soul’ is the question and quest that preoccupies the artist in and out of her practice, perhaps not unlike many others who come to realize the need to unlearn to grow up.
notes by Gabrielle Gonzales