Caught Up, 2020
Oil and spray paint on canvas
About the Artist
Harriet Gillett (b. 1995, England) is a London-based painter and printmaker, whose colourful and fluid works explore aspects of contradiction within memory and nostalgia, and offer an element of escapism. Working from a combination of observational drawing and imagination, she creates composite imagery that is rooted in personal experience and takes further inspiration from literature, music, folklore and art history. She employs a variety of materials and processes, often bringing together seemingly opposing elements in order to playfully blur the lines between the traditional or the contemporary, abstraction and figuration, dream or reality. This year she recieved her Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at City and Guilds of London Arts School, after graduating from Edinburgh University with a BA in English Literature in 2017. She was recently shortlisted for the Ingram prize and exhibited work with Purslane Art and Unit 1 Gallery Workshop. Harriet lives and works in London, UK.
About the Artwork
Caught Up is my take on Bronzino’s painting called ‘Allegory of Venus and Cupid’. The original painting was commissioned and sent from one court to another with a message veiled in mythology; I like this idea of you having to work it out by pulling back the layers of symbolism. It warns of future chaos as the gods act as they please with little care of the repercussions. Venus and Cupid (her son) are kissing, and all of the characters surrounding them serve as allegories of the broken peace and disruption ensuing from their frivolous caving to temptation. Cupid’s foot in the painting is the foot used in the intro to Monty Python, which conjures similar connotations of the world being the Gods’ stomping ground. I love how this painting has been referenced again and again, and continues to feel relevant. My plan for the painting was to lift the symbolic undertones of the original piece and update it into a contemporary narrative of environmental chaos. I paired the unnatural and artificial feeling of spray-paint with organic oil, and luminous colour with darker subject matter to create a series of tensions and juxtapositions, which playfully reflect upon our contradictory relationship with the environment. In line with the precedents of a topsy turvy world, the painting can be viewed ‘any way up’, either landscape or portrait.