Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body

Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body

Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body
4 April, 2024 – 4 June, 2024
The TCHC Viewing Room gallery
GU34 3YU

Blackbird Rook Presents: ‘Resistance is Held in the Body,’ featuring new paintings by artist Hannah Murgatroyd. Known for her exuberant and hyper-sensual painterly techniques, Murgatroyd creates variations of moods through surfaces that seem to swim before our eyes. Heavily worked areas of smooth flesh combine with expanses of barely-touched canvas.

Forms emerge, sometimes from a scrawly, rough handling, at others from an economy of judiciously placed hatching. Colour palettes lurch from unrestrained saccharine pastels and muddy browns to more classical graphite and red crayon. Emotions fluctuate between rapt wonderment, nostalgia, and bliss.” – Lizzie Lloyd, Garageland Reviews, May 2019

The white-haired women I now paint often wield the anachronistic device of a palette. Bearing it up as a shield, a totem, a joke about male painters and genius. About painting despite the odds. How do we paint the body when we have lost our own? Viewing the paintings that have emerged from my hand over the past two years, I am surprised to find identity at their core. I found an identity in motherhood.

Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body
I Knew My Name, 2020-2024
Oil on canvas
76cm x 51cm

I no longer had to think about who I was, I had an answer more powerful than I had imagined. In the studio, I turned to this rudimentary, primitive subject of myself and, just as I was freed in being named a mother, found I was freed by naming myself as subject – freed to think about paint, about how to make a painting work.

My body and sense of painting had both broken down and needed building up anew. I turned the gaze direct and outward, exposing this often tattered form, sometimes with child, sometimes not, picturing the mother as a wry hero, borne of a 20th century body obscurely giving birth two decades into the 21st century – a relic in my own time.Calibrating my space in middle age, I returned to 20th century painting, to the awkward joys of Soutine and Cezanne’s early portraits.

Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body
Savant, 2023-2024
Oil & acrylic on canvas
91cm x 61cm

I threw out bells and whistles for rougher painting. It is paint that tells the story here – its raw and elegiac aggregations reflecting a lived-in life. I love painting’s own odyssey – what can be sought, obfuscated and transformed with these crude tools of brush and oil.

I would not call these paintings of motherhood.Endurance, perhaps.Or resistance. Theyare works shaped by the condition of motherhood, which has restored the sensation of time to my canvas, as I am only able to be active in the studio in the short gaps between raising my child. I necessarily paint in layers, in furious accumulations of brush marks.

Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body
Odyssey, 2023-2024
Oil on linen
160 x 130cm

That’s all this woman has. Her palette or brush and her torn-about self, pearls popping from her mouth. The palettes I paint from hold symbols: a piece of Lapis; Boudicca’s coins; bones; flowers drawn from Disney films. It is this life, not colours, that I paint with.

Hannah Murgatroyd: Resistance is Held in the Body opens on the 4 of April, 2024 until the 4th of June, 2024 at The TCHC Viewing Room gallery

©2024 Hannah Murgatroyd