Sid Motion, July 2020
Langley’s paintings seem to miss the mark of their subjects - as if the focus of her gaze has slipped from the intentional capture of her sitter. A portrait just shy of the face, a possibly smiling child but we only see their hands. This builds a more intimate and loaded look at the people she presents - a more emotional suggestion of time and place with them. Are these glimpses of a memory that we are piecing together? Or the rejected photographs from the family album? This selection of work builds an image of childhood loaded with an internal narrative but cunningly leaves us unclear of their subtext.
Vicky Wright, July 2020
Photographic images are the starting point for these paintings. Their familiar palette is often jarring, through over-exposure, or the peculiar excesses of imbalance in cyan and magenta.
This feeling from a cheaply processed supermarket snap with uneven super-saturated colour set against bleached out areas, creates creepy tensions and dark shadows explored within the paintings that ambitiously interpret this visually degraded information.
Using a strategy of cropping to pull focus tightly around the elected image the artist creates an indexical conception of feeling and atmosphere through a non-linear narrative. Where images act as stand-in, frozen players hinting at an unspoken sometimes tragic event.
The tensions arise as seemingly inexplicable details of corners and edges of objects that we don’t get to fully see, emerge as a set of codes or clues to be deciphered.
The selected subject matter suggest a subtle unfolding of ambiguous elements that at best suggest a meta-condition for where these subjects lie in relation to each other. Within the gaps between what an image does or doesn’t express, the hinted at hidden story, conveyed by the metonymic function of the image is used cleverly here as a strategy in these Belgian influenced works.
By flipping the reading of a banal image to its problematic obverse, gives a sense of a tragedy. That which is just out of shot percolates our comprehension of the painting that we are permitted to see. Invoking excitement, a process of wet on wet painting and gentle overpainting work as if veiling hidden elements. When handled with this sense of slow-burning feeling and mood, the moments of focus and sophisticated painting render a plausible narrative.
In the best of these paintings we feel a temporal space of before or after-event. Elements as punctuations appear, a birthday cake, fatigued helium balloons losing air and deflating to the ground, become metaphor, a man in a white shirt – the language of the institution – wears a clown mask. His forced jollity suggesting that familial events hold a sentiment that can’t heal what lies beneath, the turgid relational discord that flanks the occasion, the psychology or sadness is held static like petrified remains beneath the bonhomie. In one beguiling painting, a ladder runs into a ceiling portal of a mysterious theatre-like space, where a woman points a torch dimly illuminating the faded brown walls, suggesting an escape route up the golden gilding on the ladder’s rungs.