The paintings are about time, our span of it as living things, the nature of the void we come from and to which we will – or will we? – return. As Bennett says, ‘there is a clarity about the start of life, but an ambiguity about the end’. There are lots of oppositions to get our heads around: life / death; night / day; dark / light; stillness / movement; abstraction / representation; control / spontaneity…. They’re all built in.
Emma Bennett (Born1974) 's contemplative paintings are contemporary manifestations of the classical idea of the memento mori. By depicting fragile life forms such as flowers, fruit, small birds, fish and hunted game set against dark, monochromatic grounds, the artist engages with notions of time, transience, life, death and life after death.
Still life forms are appropriated from art historical sources but are recomposed and set out of
context. Combined with expressive techniques within and against the monochromatic fields, Bennett introduces a set of dichotomies that create tension and dynamism: figurative and abstract; modern and classical; fast and slow; surface and depth; instinctive and predetermined. This new set of paintings also begins to explore the energy and momentum that propels all things through space and time. Composition and fluidity of paint suggest a gravitational pull of elements through a spatial void, with the once fecund but now expired conjoined or about to collide. And the work seeks to portray the potential of these energies continuing beyond life: we are therefore presented with the certainty of a beginning and the ambiguity of the end.