BRIGITTE POLEMIS | just a number
7 Stuck in a bottle Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 60 x 25 x 7 cm (24 x 10 x 3 in) each x 7 9,500
Front CoverCommon sense is not common Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 60 x 60 x 8 cm (24 x 24 x 3 in) 4,250 6 No Freedom Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 60 x 72 x 8 cm (24 x 28 x 3 in) 4,750
In her new collection Just a number, Brigitte Polemis questions with humour, issues of conformity and standardization as the effects of industrialisation and globalisation are seeping every aspect of our lives. After years of a semi-utopic state of euphoria fed by the material trappings of economic prosperity, young working men are coming to terms with a new great depression. Her artwork portrays this generation of individuals as faceless figurines, reminiscent of Yiannis Gaitiss, men in suits, who are dispensable, devoid of their value as unique humans, now posing as numbers within economic units struggling to survive. The theme of repetition adds to the objectification of the human figure in her images and creates a mood of senseless reproduction reflecting our consumer society.
The use of multiple layers of Perspex, become the vehicles for a simultaneous background, middle ground and foreground that enable the artist to switch back and forth with reality and illusion. The use of lined backgrounds, similar to Bridget Rileys op-art paintings, create an optical illusion as the viewer moves closer, further or along the images. As the eye wonders on the lined patterns, a sense of dizziness is conveyed echoing the feelings of confusion and helplessness in these men appearing static in the outer layers of Perspex. If the viewers eye perceives the image as a whole, the male motifs seem surreal as they appear to float in space or create a new image altogether. But as the eye focuses on the outer layers of the image these object like motifs reveal themselves for what they are, men in suits. This constant play with reality and illusion has been associated with Rene Magrittes work that has informed Brigittes recent body of work.
Her kaleidoscopic wheel compositions, remind us of scenes in romantic films of the 60s, such as the ones directed by Busby Berkley, in which human formations would create moving shapes of opening and closing flowers. These theatrical images with their multiple layers, although still, are full of movement as if they are the documentation of a meticulously staged performance that took place elsewhere, at another time. The subtle use of colour serves as traces of hope for a better future amongst the grays and blacks that represent sentiments of desperation about the prospect of an uncertain future.
Born in Syria and growing up in a war torn Lebanon and later living under a totalitarian communist regime in Poland and a military dictatorship in North Cyprus, Brigitte has an inverted experience of the comfort that her contemporary peers in Western Europe and North America lavished in for decades. Drawing from her own personal experience, the artist is able to relate, through her artwork, to the struggle of a young generation facing challenging situations. At the same time her minimal aesthetics of colour, line, form and composition aim to leave the viewer with a sense of hope and optimism that this is a just another storm that will pass. After all, there wouldnt be joy if it wasnt for pain, as Bennie Pete, sousaphone player of jazz band, Hot 8 Brass, reminds us, when asked how he maintains such a sunny disposition.
1 Lunch break Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 40 x 133 x 7 cm (16 x 52 x 3 in) 5,500
3 Going nowhere Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 40 x 126 x 7 cm (16 x 50 x 3 in) 5,500
2 Theatre Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 40 x 129 x 7 cm (16 x 51 x 3 in) 5,500
4 I dont wish to be the symbol of anything Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 60 x 40 x 9 cm (24 x 16 x 3 in) 4,000 5 Marked at birth Limited edition of 6 mixed media ink print multiple Perspex 30 x 30 x 7 cm (12 x 12 x 3 in) each x 9 14,500