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caput mortum


Rosalee Firth


Gallery 4

16 March - 3 April 2016

Opening Wednesday 16 March, 6.30-8pm

(Gallery closed over Easter, Wed 23 - Sun 27 March)

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An interest in the psychology of the human psyche informs the work, particularly through the transparent honesty of the child’s gesture as captured in the split second of a photograph.

In alchemy, caput mortum signifies a useless substance left over, residual worthless remains akin to the photographic remains of people’s lives in the black and white images of the 1940s and 50s that I use as inspiration for the paintings. The semi macabre overtones associated with death are also referenced in the work; caput mortum literally from the Latin is dead head. The children portrayed in the work no longer exist as children; all that remains of that time are the photographs.

When using the photographs to create the paintings, the interest is in the thoughts and emotions of the child. Rather than a desire to create a realistic image, a gestural honesty is intended.

Caput mortum is also the name of the red/brown pigment used to outline the figures, which is then juxtaposed with bright cadmiums and cobalts. This contrast between the dark and the bright is an abiding theme in my work. The idea that there is not just one thing but more beyond the superficial bright exterior.



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