Whitehot Magazine

Phoebe Jamieson: Balancing Act

Phoebe Jamieson. Photo: Leah Gerstel.

By CARLOTA GAMBOA March 26, 2024

Recent Hudson River transplant Phoebe Jamieson forefronts the psyche’s hidden landscape in her abstract work in both painting and ceramics. Invested in a practice reminiscent of Frankenthaler’s expressionism, she channels Jungian themes of the inner child and untapped unconscious to create. “It’s an impulse I follow, it’s part of who I am,” Jamieson shares. Though she grew up in Melbourne, she’s spent a lot of time in rural Victoria, and often sees it reflected in her pieces. She remembers watching her grandmother work as a ceramicist and how “memories of being in the studio became foundational.” Though her collegiate work zeroed in on painting, her practice bleeds into sculpture as well, often finding herself working through parallel concepts via different outlets.

“Nature isn’t always figurative,” she says about the subjects of her pieces. “It’s an instinctive way of working, to focus on the essence of an idea.” If her work was once geared toward linear illustration, she has moved beyond that. Jamieson is driven by her curiosity and wishes to push past unspoken boundaries, she wishes to “release the physical form” of what we see around us. Engaged with the celebration of vulnerability, her work encompasses what it means to be led by one’s intuitive nature, constantly questioning the need to enforce logic and structure on the unknowable elements of human experience.

The Mischievous Muse, 2024, ceramic, 6x5x5 in.

Not only does she take stylistic notes from the abstract expressionists who have come before her, like Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler, Jamieson similarly retains an intimate proximity while working, standing over her canvases and diluting the acrylic paint until it has a watercolor-like feel to it. “I try to remove the limitations of the mind,” she says, “to be as vulnerable and deliberate as possible.”

With painting titles like, Balancing Act, Inwardly Unfolding, and One Bumbling Step at a Time, we come to understand that these abstract pieces exist in a world of their own. Not only are they interested in communicating with the viewer through their choice of color and movement but that they’re enacting a living relationship. A large white square of boxy-brushstrokes makes up the majority of Balancing Act, but the viewer can see the remnants of a distant layer, deep blue with a  stripe of beige. It speaks to the balance we might attempt when compartmentalizing aspects of our lives, but it could also speak to the different layers of our ever-evolving perspectives. The oblongs, spatters and sweeping curves which appear in Jamieson’s work are speaking to one another, dynamic and coexisting. The paintings act as little mirrors or microcosms, demonstrating the ebb and flow of emotions which the titular language is drawn from.

Her ceramic work feels more playful, almost drawing from a dream-like realm. Pieces like The Mischievous Muse and Harmony of Chaos consist of biomorphic forms speckled with multi-colored paint. The Mischievous Muse is a darker piece, glazed into a black finish with light pink, gray and orange flecks as the two distinct halves embrace. A shallow crevice separates the taller and straighter side from the reclined shape.The latter more connected to the sculpture's base than the tower it wraps around. Harmony of Chaos is lighter in color, the tree-prong form appearing like sprouting coral. The sculpture’s cornflower blue is then glittered with a wide variety of hues like lemon yellow, red-orange, starch-white and a dark teal.

One Bumbling Step at a Time, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 31x27 in.

An enormous part of Jamieson’s practice is contingent on “expressing hopefulness through color and form,” and her attempt to reinforce an expression of the inner child. She clarifies that the “connection with innocence is often lost as we get older, so it’s important to allow its manifestation.” The Australian applies a “holistic approach” to making. She speaks with her pieces, asking them questions and giving them the agency to respond and steer the direction they’d like to move in. Her work also reveals a deep admiration for the Australian Indigenous art practices. The rich depth of narrative and storytelling, often depicted abstractly, cast forward an example of how to move spiritual truths through generations.

When asked about upcoming projects, Jamieson mentioned how much her move from Australia to New York has affected her latest work. “It’s emerging subconsciously,” she says, “but it’s something new. I’m learning through the process.” Jamieson is an artist who is determined to move in spite of her comfort zone and earnestly reach in the direction that her imaginative curiosity leads her. Whatever subsequent feelings are brought on by the transition away from her family will not go underutilized. Jamieson will be exhibiting alongside artist Joanne Agabs in Through Her Eyes at 55 Bond St. New York, May 9 -11, 2024, with an opening reception on May 9th, 6-9 PM.

To learn more about Phoebe Jamieson, please visit her website here and follow her on Instagram @phoebe_jamiesonWM

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer and poet from Los Angeles. You can find some of her writing in Art & Object, Clot Magazine, Salt Hill Journal, Bodega Magazine, Oversound and Overstandard. 

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