03
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10

Joyce Evans @ Obscura Gallery

Joyce Evans - Jewish Cemetry, Praha, 1989Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dear Diary,

Joyce Evans says that obtaining a successful photographic image is akin to receiving “a gift”. This metaphor becomes apparent as one trawls through hundreds of photographic images – whether in the dark room, or on the computer screen – as it only takes that special angle of sunlight, sudden turn of the head, or an unexpected hand gesture to turn a good photograph into a memorable image of transcendent quality.

It is also that gut feeling of a “gift” about to be bestowed that prompted Joyce Evans on her trip to Prague in 1988 to catch a glimpse of the Jewish Cemetery as it basked in the twilight of the autumn sunset, imbuing its ancient stones with the air of mystery and imparting intricate shadows on its winding pathways. Yet when she returned to the same site in 2007, that special, indescribable air of mystery was gone, absorbed by the commercialism of the tourism industry and sterilised by the order of ropes, signs, and guided tour groups.

Joyce Evans - Rain Dreaming, Yuendumu, 2005

Joyce Evans discussed the images taken at the Prague Cemetery in a detailed statement in the exhibition, so it is not necessary to repeat her points here. It would suffice to say, however, that these photographs served as an impetus behind the present exhibition, which allowed the photographer to expand her focus to a wider selection of works encompassing her photographic career from the 1980s to the present day.

Surveying Evans’s images of the last thirty years bears witness that her “gifts” were bountiful. She was able to turn a Widelux snap of children climbing de Kooning’s sculpture in The Ascension into a Baroque image of Rubensian magnitude. Under her lens, the crowd gathered on the peer in Behold becomes reminiscent of the latter-day Magi, witnessing the birth of new millennium. She has been able to capture the imposing majesty of the Uluru, the purple glow of Menindee Lake, the eerie stillness of Jugiong, and the drowned silence of the Nathan River. She has been granted a vision. By capturing it through the medium of photography, she shares these gifts with us.

Joyce Evans - Jugiong, 1994The concept of a photographic image as a gift evokes a notion of a spiritual inspiration as a guiding force behind Evans’s images. The spiritual is the binding thread that unites the works in this exhibition (and in Evans’s oeuvre as a whole). The photographer’s lens seeks out the omnipresent image of the Cross (perhaps in a subconscious homage to the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Western civilisation). It can be seen in the innumerable telegraph poles that populate Evans’s images (their shadows in Melbourne Cross call to mind William Holman Hunt’s The Shadow of Death of 1871); it is felt in the geometric alignments of the roads and horizons in her landscape photographs, such as Annie’s Lane; it can be perceived in the silhouette of the crossbar of a window frame, which holds a silent guard over Prague’s historic cemetery.

Joyce Evans - Jewish Cemetry, Praha, 1989Herself a product of a culturally-diverse heritage, and widely travelled, Evans is keenly attuned to the spiritual beliefs of other cultures. Evans’s New Guinea Christ series illustrates her continuous fascination with how Christianity is adopted and reinterpreted in South East Asia, and how it is often coloured by a certain primeval, pagan spirituality. In Thailand, she was moved by the silent beauty of a golden Buddha. While documenting the lives of remote indigenous communities, her whole being had been permeated with the intense spirituality that connects aboriginal people to the land. It is this unfathomable quality that unites the images as seemingly disparate as desert rock formations in the outback Australia and weathered, time-ravaged tombstones in the centre of Prague.

Joyce Evans - Tallaringa Springs Rainbow, 1995However, the spiritual in Evans’s photography is not limited to the literal interpretations or visual representations. It is also contained within the unbridled centrifugal energy of the galloping horses in Lippizaner Movement, the majestic expanses of century-old oak and eucalyptus trees, and in the unstoppable forces of nature as captured in the threatening rain clouds of her Mt Martha series.

Imaging the Spiritual 1980-2010 thus sums up the guiding forces and inspirational principles behind the photography of Joyce Evans, which continue to inform her indefatigable, ever-searching, and inquiring eye, seeking out the beauty, synergy, and the spiritual in the everyday.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

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2 Responses to “Joyce Evans @ Obscura Gallery”


  1. August 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Great shots! Oh what color in the last shot!

  2. 2 joyce evans
    August 14, 2010 at 10:35 am

    what a great review

    thanks for your support and encouragement.


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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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