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Julia Flanagan | Likingness

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Likingness brings the warmth and joy of Julia Flanagan’s work back to the Egg and Dart Gallery. The past year marks a progression to a vibrant new palette along with an increased complexity in the abstract language of her painting and sculpture. Through shapeshifting and layering references emerge  – perhaps to a machine or the head of a figure, a flower or a passing thought – before resolving in an open state of potential.

Julia Flanagan has been in a larger home studio since the end of 2020. With its warm natural light, this new context is evident in the shift to lemon yellows and rich orange. The intensity is then tempered by the complementary counterparts of navy blue and deep green. The daily environment has a real influence on Flanagan’s processes and the events of the past year have increased that crossover between family life and creative practice. Well loved music, play time or her children’s words find a way into the work. I dreamed I was having a dream but the dream was no dream, a quote from her son, is a note on this interlocking dynamic between domestic experience and the studio.

 With paintings raised on a platform, Flanagan generally works close to the surface. As viewers at that proximity we can also see the detail, decision making and alterations that have occurred. There is a plan, generally a drawing, and then the plan needs adjustment.  References to essential architectural forms remain but the arches now link up and soften like theatre drapes. Three new sculptures, with the addition of perfect spheres in bright colours, suggest assemblages as a mechanism or prop. The artist forms pieces using an electric scroll saw, with some shapes needing to be hand cut. She then refers to her own drawings as she glues, clamps and constructs.

 The linework in these paintings is more intricate, fascinated and layered. An almost impossible level of compression takes place in the trajectory of these stripes and shapes, but it succeeds. Flanagan offers an embracing quality of positivity, further supported by the show title, Likingness – a rarely used word suggesting unabashedly pleasant associations between things, all while floating around the deeper challenges of making work.

 Julia Flanagan exhibited as part of Sydney Contemporary in 2020 as well as collaborating with fashion label Gorman. In 2019 she won the Georges River Sculpture Prize with the piece Everything I Own. The show Likingness is Flanagan’s second solo exhibition at the Egg & Dart.
-Melody Willis

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