‘Simulation Paintings’ presents a collection of fifteen new works from abstract artist Jo Hummel. Each acrylic and emulsion on paper and ply piece, embraced in a wooden frame, presents the culmination of an approach four years in the making.
Conceptually, these are works composed of modest to vast inspirations, from miscellaneous paper mementos to the sprawling sky. Materially, they are characterised by the astute sensitivity to colour relations which permeate Hummel’s output.
Formally each work bares the artist’s trademark bisection; a horizon line which strikes up a conversation with each carefully assembled paper component. The larger works are dissected still — quartered — summoning ever intricate formal interactions. The scope of potential arrangements is staggering. Mathematically incomprehensible. A rather poetic analogy of the human condition.
Hummel’s work could certainly be interpreted as facsimile of free-will. In negotiating composition, Hummel engages our inevitable obligations of choice, freeing herself from the confines of decision making deadlock in the process.
Where did these works originate?
I have been developing this painting series since 2017. Faced with the loss of control of circumstances, When the world offered no option for decision making or autonomy, I was able to synthesise it in the studio. I abandoned the traditional paintbrush on canvas method in favour of this more idiosyncratic painting practice which is essentially collage. This new method of cutting away at the paper with scissors and then arranging the shapes, Flipping and shifting back and forth, often over long periods of time, provided more opportunity for a choice experience.
I believe that this practice has changed me not just as an artist but also as a person. I’ve created pathways in my own psychology which explore the concept of change and I feel more flexible when it comes to decision making both inside and outside my practice. Today the paintings represent pathways, doorways, windows, exits, entrances, and the invitation for change.
What has influenced your palette?
My studio is on the Isle of Wight and I’m surrounded by colour - bright painted houseboats, beach huts, bucket and spade and ice cream stands as well as all the boating and sailing paraphenelia, But the most awe inspiring source of colour inspiration for me is the sky.
The interaction of colour fascinates me. We might look at a painting and analyse the form with logic or intellect. But our experience of colour is more visceral, we feel colours. And I love that. I usually select colour combinations because, on that day, those colours feel right. I’ll use colours to encourage a painting to move in a certain direction. And I’ll remove colour completely from large spaces in order to create an open space so the eyes, and the mind, can sit still.
So much memory and emotion is stored in colour, both subjectively and universally. Also, colour meaning changes depending on your culture. In India white is commonly associated with death, whereas in Egypt it is associated with Joy.
What qualities do you love about the materials you work with?
My love of paper began with the little collections similar to the ones everyone has somewhere in a draw, of birthday cards, and train tickets, notes from family and friends,and a beer mat from that trip to that bar you can’t remember. The treasured keepsakes we can’t throw away. I always preferred looking at preliminary sketches in galleries and found oil painting and other traditional painting mediums harder to engage with. I liked being able to see the journey and the trouble shooting.
A large oil painting can be overwhelming, where incomparison a sketch on paper is intimate. There is also the low brow connotation. I am anti classist and tuned into the biosocial parameters which effect people, art and culture, so I like paper for its everyday accessible quality. It chimes with my belief system. For a long time I collected ephemera and used it in my work. Once I bought a beautiful handwritten cookery book at a car boot sale. It was carefully written in fountain pen by a ‘Mrs Herron’ in the 1960s. I couldn’t believe this person’s son could sell such a precious object! I treasured it and used it in an installation piece called Mrs Herron’s Lantern.
What are your hopes for these new works?
I’m driven by understanding what it is to be human and this experience we call the humancondition. As my work develops, so do I. I know through talking to clients that my workcommunicates the meditations I am practicing, as I’ve had this fed back to me, and thatmakes me happy.