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Stacey Rees’s Abstract Female Portraits Capture a Moment of Inner Contemplation

In her previous works, the Australian painter Stacey Rees seemed to be captivated by the strange and modern notion of the selfie. Her portraits explored the idea that people can define their self-worth by the public face they show to the world and that people can, in fact, manipulate those images for a better outcome. What comprised the inner life of those who swore by such digital machinations, she seemed to ask? In her new body of work, which was on view this month at the Sydney gallery Saint Cloche, Rees appears to sink even deeper into the stillness of contemplation. Called “Golden Hour” — so named for the time after sunrise and before sunset — Rees “captures a moment pulled free of [our] relentless forward motion. It is in these moments of exquisite beauty when we try to freeze our experience, the noise of the day quietens and we can meditate on the simplicity of being within our environment so luminously displayed.” In some of the paintings, Rees’ female protagonists have their features almost fully obscured and yet still hold the gaze of the viewer. Within that gaze, her subjects can be delicately attired and fully present, or almost shrinking in fear. In both subject matter and palette, I was reminded of another bard of the soul, Joni Mitchell, in her better artistic moments. A must-follow talent to keep your eye on.

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