WOAW Gallery is pleased to present the first exhibition of the year, Année du Tigre, L’heure du Tigre, a solo show of France-based Australian artist Jordy Kerwick. Featuring a new body of works filled with brilliant colours and vibrant energy, the exhibition celebrates the lunar new year of the Tiger and investigates the topical themes of power, fear and hope. Année du Tigre, L’heure du Tigre opens on 22 January and runs until 17 February 2022.
Known for his raw, thickly impastoed works that explore the classic genre of still life through a contemporary perspective, Jordy Kerwick is a self-taught artist who has built his art away from the conventional structure of art-making, and plays around with textures and surfaces with a candid approach. Motifs and characters are brought down into rough shapes that veer toward abstraction, creating a flattened view of the three-dimensional space. Powerful strokes and expressive colours form energetic compositions that reveal beauty in its most organic and truthful state, recalling the art of Modernist masters such as Henri Matisse and Helen Frankenthaler.
Drawing from his collections of imagery of cultural markings, people, places and things – especially from daily life – Kerwick’s strongly autobiographical works divulge deeply personal stories. A husband and father of two sons, domestic life has been one of his key sources of inspiration, depicted in an unfiltered manner. Scribbles of geometrical shapes by his sons are often seen in the background of the paintings; other times, his sons are portrayed as double-headed serpents or tigers. Considering his youth living in Hong Kong, Kerwick connects his memories with the Chinese traditional zodiac stories.
Tiger, at once an immanent threat, a Taoist signifier of spiritual power, and a mythical animal, is void of reality in Kerwick’s works, acting as a somber reminder of failed efforts to rise against oppression in a metropolis that thrives on the exchange of fortune and power. Predatory animals and imaginary beasts – serpents, wolves and unicorns – are juxtaposed with symbols of worldly pleasures such as music-related elements, reminiscent of Vanitas. Despite the playful imagery, it is but a portrait of the essential character of life – its fragility.