Doggerfisher, Edinburgh, until Sat 7 Jul
Belgian-born, Glasgow-based artist Hanneline Visnes’ paintings record the tension between abstraction and representation, pattern and spontaneity - a play of opposites that has come to characterise a slightly cynical approach to postmodern painting. The desire to paint and a critique of this supposedly passé drive can be found in compositions that bring together motifs from nature - birds and foliage - with abstract areas of paint that recall consuming fires or absorbing dark abysses. One opposite obliterates the other; both are ‘de-naturalised’.
In most of her paintings, Visnes leaves the under-painted background untouched so that the figures are flattened on top of the picture plane beneath an imaginary ‘objectifying’ and distancing sheet of glass. Her analyses present pruned, choreographed, forced and unnatural vignettes of nature, with subjects (such as thrushes, hawks and peacocks) arranged in symmetrical and geometrical formations; repetition freezes the ‘natural’ movement of the birds and the composition, so that the benign innocence and beauty of her subjects is questioned. The term ‘uncanny’ is overused and rarely understood, but there is something ‘un-homely’ about these swatches and samples of art as high-art wallpaper. Aspects of illustration, the decorative and design, find their way into her work, with wild tendrils reduced to repeating patterns.
In recent work Visnes utilises hazy aureoles of colour to present her subjects on stark, flat mid-grounds, further emphasising the urge to stage and control nature. ‘Man-made’ objects that represent nature have found their way into her compositions, as the myth of pristine nature retreats.