• Representative Portraits – by Martin Best

    Date posted: August 3, 2006 Author: jolanta
    Cherry Hood is based in Australia, but travels and shows regularly in the US. Hood recently collaborated with J.T. LeRoy on his book, Harold’s End (published by Last Gasp). She produced unnerving paintings in response to the characters in this disquieting story about four particular street kids of San Francisco. Her huge paintings were reproduced as illustrations in the book.
    Courtesy of artist


    With exquisite tenderness and empathy Hood forces the reader/viewer to surrender a certain measure of control to the paintings and their subject. She coerces a confrontation with the bitter reality of this extraordinary story. Hood’s obsessive observations of the human face, presented in this oversized format, especially in an exhibition setting, are overwhelming. The scale and unsettling gaze of these many young faces produces an existential uncertainty, which leaves many dismayed by Hood’s malevolent motive.

    Hood has developed a substantial oeuvre that plumbs the hidden depths of the psyche in her explorations of male gender and androgyny. Working in series, and basing her subjects upon one or more sitters, her own fanatical photographs or magazine cuttings, the works mostly serve as representative statements rather than individual portraits.

    Exploiting the beauty of watercolour paint, Hood realizes the uncanny melting effect of these works. She works with washes on paper as well as on canvas, although it is via the former that her joint mastery of technique and subject matter is most evident. In these works, liquid is poured across its paper support where it is allowed to pool overnight, settle and stain like ink on blotting paper, leaving hazy, impressionistic edges and moody areas of darkness and light.

    Through soft, delicate hues—pinks, peaches, the icy blue or grey of an eye, wisps of fair or brown hair, a human presence is evoked and given life. Then, with small brushes, Hood juxtaposes the features of eyes and mouth to produce faces which have a startlingly reality. The moist eyes and lips invite a sense of pathos and identification with their apparent vulnerability. Hovering between the world of childhood and that of adulthood, innocence and sexuality, they are symbols of an era in which uncertainty prevails.

    Hood is well known for winning the prestigious 2002 Archibald Prize and the Kedumba Drawing Award. Her works are represented in private and institutional Australian and International collections. Hood has had many solo exhibitions in New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver and Zurich and was represented at the Art Cologne in 2003. In 2004 she was represented at Toronto and Melbourne Art Fairs.
    Hood is passionate about art education and workshops and mentors many young artists. She has a Masters of Visual Art and a Bachelor of Visual Art with Honours from The University of Sydney.


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