Rachel Goodyear from 1 October 2011
Goodyear’s pictures are like rebuses that lie somewhere between the poles of reason and unreason. They take entirely familiar components and fuse them in unfamiliar ways... The Romantics and Surrealists imagined such fusions in their own day, but Goodyear envisages hers with sharp observations and finely rendered drawings.
Morgan Falconer, 2009
In autumn 2011 Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents the work of Rachel Goodyear in a new exhibition created for the Bothy Gallery, featuring commissioned works alongside recent drawings. Goodyear’s extraordinary drawings have rapidly attracted award nominations, public and private collectors, and critical acclaim. The compelling cast of characters she has created inhabit a strange and complex world of contradictions, existing somewhere between the macabre and mundane. Exploring themes of fear, desire, vulnerability and isolation, Goodyear invites the viewer into a dark place where human psychologies and animal behaviour collide and merge.
Just like the mythological trickster the drawings are slipping through holes and crossing into unfamiliar territory... fragile, delicate, yet defiant and tricky... accompanied by hand drawn animations featuring characters trapped in repetition.
The exhibition includes a new series of work inspired by time spent walking and discovering the physical and imagined landscape at YSP, resulting, for the first time, in small-scale sculptures. As if scrambling from the pages of Goodyear’s sketchbook, figures appear in the gallery as animations and porcelain sculptures, still fragile and unsure of their new configuration. The viewer struggles to recognise the human or animal depicted in sculptures such as the hazards of falling asleep in the woods, but is nonetheless intrigued by what could have happened to these creatures, whose bodies have become engulfed by a strange material.
New works on paper offer curious situations: dogs’ new tricks sees a faceless bride led to the altar by, and perhaps towards, a pack of labradors. Elsewhere Goodyear draws on various mythologies, including manifestations of the ‘trickster’ who appears at doorways, or in poorly constructed disguises and waits to be discovered. New animations show devils locked in an endless spiral, their dance more than tinged with menace. Sinister sound within them draws the viewer through the gallery and into Goodyear’s world, where fascination and bewilderment at the conduct of these characters takes over.
Goodyear’s current work is informed by to her recent residency at the Banff Centre, which is set within the stunningly remote mountains of Banff National Park, Canada. There, she imagined feral women simultaneously vulnerable and defiant, their delicate skin covered in scratches and their tough bare feet black with mud. In Goodyear’s scenario, bears emerge from hibernation early and creep into towns half-formed, unable to hold their own weight, inciting both pity and fear in those who encounter them.
The artist exploits these contrasts and ambiguities: between anxiety and compassion, good and evil, friend and enemy, pain and pleasure. Her characters can be found embedded in destructive relationships, each party involved in either a state of resignation, or else trapped in an eternal loop of repetition, preoccupied by a pointless task or locked in a moment of resignation.
The accompanying YSP publication will be the first to offer a survey of Goodyear’s work to date, with archive images and a commissioned essay by Laurence Sillars, Chief Curator at Baltic.