These small paintings began by collaging torn etchings that I had made about the central desert. Then using oilstick I transformed the surface with hues of red and orange, colours of the ‘Red Centre’. Repeated flame-like rhythms of white forced the collaged etching shapes forward in the picture plane like escaping figures. The climatic intensity, ambient heat and primordial vastness of the Northern Territory epitomize the element Fire for me. The fire of the red desert and its extreme heat melt the boundaries of consciousness. It is the fire of transformation. As blood throbs through my veins, the landscape pulses in a sublime heat haze and internal and external worlds are harmonized.
About the Artist
Based at the edge of the Royal National Park, artist Carmen Ky is primarily a painter and printmaker. She has also worked as a photographer on books and documentary films in Kakadu and the Himalayas and collaborated on projects with indigenous Australian artists and elders. She has a Diploma of Painting from the National Art School Sydney. Graduate Diploma in Printmaking from College of Fine Arts UNSW Sydney. A Master of Philosophy from the College of Art and Social Sciences, School of Art & Design Australian National University.
For 17 years she taught painting and printmaking at several TAFE colleges, the National Art School and EORA Faculty of Aboriginal Studies in Sydney.
Carmen Ky ‘s paintings bring together western traditional art training, eastern philosophy and a deep connection to the Australian landscape. These works celebrate the numinous presence of natural environments. They are the result of immersion and contemplation in diverse landscapes as well as research into cultural interpretations of the ancient philosophy of the Five Elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. Carmen deploys specific landscapes to symbolize the intrinsic qualities of each element and transform the landscape in terms of colour, shape, light, luminosity and meaning by responding to deserts, ocean, mountains, rainforest, air and space itself.
“Art is about ideas. For me regions of nature induce an osmosis, a gradual assimilation of knowledge and ideas, a liminal way of working with energy, light and colour to create or dissolve form and transform space in my paintings. By bringing another perspective to the elements, I hope to evoke a deep respect for our natural environment.”
Carmen Ky has had many solo shows, been in various curated exhibitions and group shows around Australia and overseas and won several art prizes. She is represented in public and private collections around Australia and overseas.
Carmen suggests that drawing on various cultural experiences and integrating them opens up the potential of painting as a field within which different philosophical, cultural, formal and material influences can be brought together into a fluid exchange.