14th – 31st August 2019
Within a framework of Old Master’s Portraits, Messiter’s paintings underscore the complexity of familial relationships all the while using dolls as the protagonists.
There can be found themes of nurturing, love, rivalry, jealousy and coercion, and maybe more.
Toni Messiter is a painter who began her practice over 20 years ago. Her father, a painter himself, taught Messiter the fundamentals of colour and composition, instilling a deep and enduring adoration for the medium. The theme of adoration is a recurrent in Messiter’s practice to which we see the complexity and sometimes conflicting reality of this emotion in her recent solo exhibition, Beloved.
There is a nurturing intimacy within one’s interaction with dolls that calls to mind notions of childhood and family. To Messiter, the notion of the doll allows for an uncanny re-enactment, where one might objectify and thereby reconcile their emotions. Drawing from the aesthetics of 17th Century portraiture and in particular, portraits of the family, Messiter engages with this subject matter by animating the cherub-like figures in expressions and interactions familiar to us. In this way, there is a stylistic affinity for theatrics which dramatically unfold as ruminations on the human condition; presenting subjects that boarder upon absurdity and delight, provocation and enchantment.
In depicting her Beloved, Messiter acknowledges that she possesses the dolls in the same way that we feel ownership over the relationships that we forge: connections that through their nurturance are able to teach us not only of love and compassion but also of manipulation and power.