‘Shape of An Image’ portrays our fantasies, identities, our pains and losses; a nonconforming voice that charters with resiliency. In our world of the ubiquitous in-betweeness, where do we stand as individuals, as collectives, and how do we dream and exercise our imagination and create own reality?

Curated by Juxtapoz magazine’s contributing editor, writer and curator Sasha Bogojev, ‘Shape of An Image’ breaks away from the traditional conformity and explores the contemporary practice of paintings from flatness towards three-dimensionality. Relieving us not only from the form of a conventional image but also of our imagination and fantasies, delving into the peculiar, the unseen, the in-between state. From the materiality of paint to the varying textures, techniques and forms, the exhibition showcases a new expression that transcends the two-dimensional. Whether incorporating complex energies and emotions, or manipulating paint with raw and genuine gestures, At times sculptural, the selection of works present a dialogue between the material and immaterial. The seemingly nonchalance overtone is imbued with social and cultural reflections through the painterly strokes.

The history of impasto can be traced back to the Venetian Renaissance and Baroque period, where textures of paint and brush strokes underline the emotional quality of the artists and their subjects. Taking a contemporary approach, Kim Dorland’s work is quietly reflective of his own life experiences. Through his fluorescent-lit paintings dawned with thick passages of impasto, the emotional void and emptiness is accentuated through the deep layers of paint and brush mark. Equally, Ben Quilty’s work exuberates a highly expressive and naturalistic quality. His formative years as an official war artist for the Australian Defense force in Afghanistan deeply shaped his oeuvre. Inspired by ancient cultures and civilisations, Nicolas Holiber’s heavy accumulation of paint and raw gestural marks are translated into flesh and human forms that excruciates pain and trauma. Alleviating the torment and discomfort, Friedrich Kunath’s depiction of sunsets and landscapes are imbued with the universal feeling of love, hope and magic. His gestural application of paint portrays a sensual and dreamlike quality that is highly expressively, while the pop-like character brings in the fantasy that we so deeply yearn for. Carefully executed and imbued with minute details, Floris Van Look’s surrealist work creates a vignette of the fantastical that shocks and startles. Combining traditional painting, impasto and cartoony techniques, Van Look’s unique visual language intrudes and accentuates a new level of reality. Taking a different stance, Jose Lerma’s abstract take on portraiture investigates the historical and autobiographical and plays around the idea between the heroic and pathetic through the exaggeration of paint and colours. The heavy accumulation of paint creates an ambiguity and endless possibilities at the same time. As we question the varying states of paint, paintings and sculptures, Christian Rex Van Minnen’s ‘PEACE-UFO’ transforms traditional oil painting into physical matter, creating an alternative reading on painting, at the same time exploring an alternative universe of memes, conspiracies and internet culture through the layers of tattooed patterns, paving a new script through gestural means.

If the human body is the physical embodiment of our transhistorical stories, the human face, from Masha Merci’s point of view, ‘is the only part of the body that gives us the fundamental knowledge of a person’ (Sarah Mills, 2021, createmagazine). The Iranian artist finds beauty in the exploration of gender and questions our views on aesthetics in relations to social contexts. Similarly, the works of Moises Salazar and Chloe Chassion explore the queer body, identity, and displacement within our social fabric. Between masculinity and femininity, we find contradiction, fragmentation and an unconstrained in-betweenness. Circling back to a more two-dimensional expression yet revealed in an alternative picture plane reassembled with varying parts, Chiasson’s androgynous figure escapes the canvas into the in-between space against conformity.

Through the smooth window into an imagined world, the work of Paco Pomet captures the national history, confrontation and aggression between different countries. Reflecting on human existence through a dialogue between photography and painting. While the black and white nature of the work depicts a timelessness, the colourful accent highlights the fictitious and the confronting, where reality is skewed and presented anew. The realistic depiction of Laura Sanders’ work captivates us in a different light, unearthing a deeply sentimental quality of the subject and its environment.

Colourful and playful, the works of Shaina McCoy, David ‘Mr StarCity’ White, and Miguel Angel Payano Jr are burdened with an underlying socio-cultural heritage and portray the vulnerability and resilience of the African ethnicity and diaspora. Shaina McCoy’s thick, glossy brushstrokes depicts simple faces without features or expressions, highlighting Black families and anonymity in our high-definition world, while David ‘Mr StarCity’ White’s playful abstraction portrays colours and optimism through his delivery of paint and composition. Through the use of everyday objects and artificial curiosities, Miguel Angel Payano Jr explores the broader themes of human socialization, identity formation and gestalt.

At times contradictory, at times complementary, the in-betweeness is beyond any dichotomies and extremes – the state between paintings and sculptures; the energy between the masculine and the feminine; and the forces at play between borders, cultures, and social constructs. ‘Shape of An Image’ unleashes the stagnant and sluggish views of reality and takes over with a renewed life force which proceeds us.