Joanna Kirk’s exhibition at Blain|Southern London includes new large-scale works in pastel. Kirk is one of the few contemporary artists working solely with pastel, attracted by the pure pigment and ability to manipulate colour and texture directly with the fingers.
Her works are expansive yet enveloping in their detail. Rather than depicting physical space, she creates psychological landscapes that explore ideas of isolation, motherhood, the human condition and our complex relationship with nature. Kirk addresses such intangible concepts by turning physical natural objects into almost abstract and unearthly manifestations. Recent works draw from the ever evolving topography of Iceland and the isolated valleys and woodlands of North Wales. Through layer upon layer of pastel pigment she builds scenes of tangled roots, interlaced branches and rugged rock formations. Hidden within these compositionally rich and complex landscapes are figures whose presence and position lead the narrative and mood of the piece.