Kirsty Budge   
A thumb on the pulse, 2022, 165 × 198 cm

Kirsty Budge’s paintings combine deep introspection and an interest in psychoanalysis with a broader view that embraces the richness of the world. They are a complex and ambiguous mix of figuration, abstraction, personal narrative and landscape.

Budge writes: “These paintings are part of an ongoing exploration into my personal psyche, the collective unconscious and into various coexisting realities. These works hold lots of little landscapes, symbols, mysteries, synchronistic connections, repeated reflections, shadows and mythological references that made themselves proudly and unavoidably apparent during their making.”

Influences feeding into these works include imagery of artworks consumed in books in the studio, specifically sculptures by Camille Claudel, Marisol and Linda Marrinon, and Goya’s etchings from the NGV’s Prado exhibition, which triggered a revisitation of Budge’s earlier experience of Goya’s black paintings in the Prado. Other influences on this body of work are the writing of Janet Frame and Eunice Lipton, and the work of filmmakers Agnes Varda and Richard Linklater, specifically his Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight). The influence of sculpture on these paintings extends to Budge’s brushwork, as she found herself pushing paint with motions akin to pressing into clay, or removing pigment from the surface, as though carving to reveal under layers.

Budge has used transparent orange for associations of terracotta clay and also of daily moments of pause, the hope at sunrise or reflection at sunset. Through an earthy palette and warm tonal ranges Budge works “to capture a light in painting that is at once visual, religious/spiritual/searching for faith (for lack of better words) and erotic.”

The paintings above all seek to explore the intersection of art and life with all of its attendant complexities. In her works there is a blurring of fact and fiction, personal narrative and cultural references, and an exploration of the border between the imaginary and the real, and the theatre of the surreal. Motifs of bubbles, waves and veils recur with moments of complexity next to moments of simplicity. Out of their energy and complexity these works display a search for healing, coherence and connection.