The Theatre of the Self: A Play of Parts

Dates: 5 May, 2011 - 18 June, 2011
Reception: 5 May, -
Location: PA Gallery: Trongate 103
Admission: Free

The Theatre of the Self: A Play of Parts

The Theatre of the Self: A Play of Parts

Project Ability and Pum Dunbar are pleased to present an exhibition of mobiles, collage and paintings in progress created from a year-long Project Ability Residency funded by Creative Scotland’s Career Development Fund. Pum is an artist whose creative practice is driven by creative research, philosophy and informed by psychoanalysis and a comprehensive understanding of psychotherapy.

I believe the art making process is the product of our human organic intelligence, it is therefore both emotional and imaginative and most essentially it is communicative. Art presents us with encoded symbols, visual metaphors and forms of perceptual thinking that can evoke responses deep in the psyche. An image or object can simultaneously hold and communicate different meanings on various levels of consciousness, offering a flexible and fluid interchange of ideas, with the constant potential for movement of meanings and interpretation.

Pum is driven by the notion that art embodies a sensory and perceptual process and her engagement in understanding one’s own experiences exists within a singular artistic self. The preoccupation with the self manifests in a number of ways; a return to early life, an exploration of gender politics and relationships representative of the idea that no one becomes a self alone. Collage is used to piece together cognitive perceptions with details arranged to create compositions that reflect the experience of an individual striving to make sense of her own reality. The works have verbal and anatomical references carefully constructed from unrelated corporeal bits and bobs and her use of multiple images simultaneously depicts more than one subject in a single form. This method allows the artist to communicate with herself and to appeal to the outside world a deeply complex inner language; initiating and instigating a dialogue between ‘self’ and ‘other’, art object and viewer. The collage works are filled with startling juxtapositions playing on sophisticated critiques of the modern female as a monumental and powerful force constructed with superimposed body parts; a column for a head, a rope for a body. Pum’s visual depictions of the role of women in society are twisting the rope of gender expectations in order to satirise their perceived limitations. In her paintings, stylized constructions of domestic contexts are surrounded by suggestive bowls and masks against mountain backdrops, harlequin print with seeds, leaves and tribal masks building a stock of rich imagery where rounded, hollow forms are juxtaposed with hard edges and tools. The puppets displayed in mobiles are fragmentary pieces, dangling and moving in circular motions representing a ‘self’ that is not rigid or whole, existing in orbit – a molar, a lock of hair, a teacup, spectacles, gloves, hammers and scissors. Some of these objects are used to establish a sense of ‘self’ as tools to obtain a second sense. These marionettes spring up and down and the artist-puppeteer manipulates the being as it hangs elegantly on a trapeze. Dunbar’s skills of dismantling and re-articulation, impel her on a deeply personal self-reflexive art journey and the impact of this passage is connected to the universality of self presented from the artist’s self initiated dialogue of received ideas, narratives, myths and rituals; all connected to femininity and reflecting the evolution of an artist whose work has become more rich and descriptive as she has come to understand herself. The Play of Parts raises the curtain on an unfolding story of eloquent narratives continually developing, in progress and not entirely recognised as me but reiterated as mine.

Image: ‘The Art Lovers’ 2011.

Click here to see a slideshow of the exhibition.