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Storm Tharp: Seeking Fragrance

September 2, 2020 - September 26, 2020

A portrait of a woman in gouache on paper. Her mouth is slightly open as though she was caught in mid-sentence. Her hand is lifted in the lower left corner of the frame. Her eyes look off to the left. A red light is cast on the left side of her face, a warm highlight hits the right side of her long, dark hair.

Sequenced and installed in the gallery in a long, continuous line, twenty-two works on paper—portraits, still lifes, and abstractions—read and feel similarly to flipping through a magazine or looking at a screenplay. Each piece marks a moment in time, a moment that one might think of initially as mundane—fleeting moments captured through the artist’s eyes. Indicative of our collective moment, these paintings take us through a rise and fall of emotions, capturing moments of pause—flowers at the peak of their bloom, two men kissing, humans on the verge of tears—images of people as they navigate an uncertain world, finding and confronting moments of grace, fear, sadness, and beauty.

“That time spent swimming in the pool beneath the waterfall belongs nowhere: It is part of no sequence of events, it is only itself.”— Rachel Cusk, Outline

I open the studio door. I see the work on the wall. A prepared piece of paper rests on the table, brushes are washed and aligned — a symbolic gesture from the night before. Enthusiams have been present. Although my mind is anxious, my body resists action. It’s difficult to persuade my feet to stand or my hands to open the tube of paint. I often cannot embrace the trouble that comes with conception. Yet, this is what I’m here to do. I seek the potential of what might be. The blank page will eventually become something that I cannot help. It will become itself. Despite my attempts to trick myself otherwise, I am this work. The trouble is required.

Every piece I have laid out before you has endured this kind of slow motion and simultaneous manic variety. Early on, these factors were hard to accept — it is challenging to remain faithful to doubt. Days in which I was satisfied with the expressive and immediate were followed by a return to zero — reaching for pencils and erasers, metrics and proportions. Weeks spent working a composition. A likeness almost speaking. And then, this disruptive voice behind my eyes distrusts the effort. A house of cards. Pause. Slowly, that feeling, that disruption revealed itself as an idea. A truth. Instinctually, it opened me up and reinvented the idea of what a body of work could look like.

And in that regard, I’ve devoted time and effort towards something seemingly fleeting. A feeling. An inclination. A nudge. Rather than reflecting the grand gesture of life – I’ve been impressed by the mundane: purely visual encounters that make up the day, and hook into more potent feelings that cross one’s mind simultaneously — or in retrospect. In this way, everything is notable, selected and potentially profound. How we become denser thinkers by what we take in and what we edit. No processing. Perhaps no discourse. No explanation. An image lays on top of the last thing you took note of. The record is blurry. Yet coded — imperceptibly.

We see it in our friends faces. We fall in love for a moment with cut flowers because they are perfect. A female stranger with matching hat and bag, enchants as tears collect in the corners of our eyes. Then we float out of that. We move from the grand and minuscule with similar ease. It’s an anxious kind of beauty punctuated by the sheer amount that we encounter. What is lost remains almost lost — what is found is born into new language.— Storm Tharp

“In this intermediate state, according to Buddhist lore, one existed, not as a merely spiritual being, but in the form of a fully sentient young child of five or six. Now, however, all the ordinary powers were marvelously heightened, The eye and the ear became incredibly keen. One heard the most distant sounds, one saw the most hidden of objects, one was immediately present wherever one wished to be. . . These invisible children nourished themselves on the fragrance of burning incense as they went through their rapid journeys through the air.Hence, this intermediate state was also known as ‘seeking fragrance.'”— Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses


September 2, 2020
September 26, 2020
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Women artist(s)
Event Type
Gallery, Visual Art
Pandemic Info
By Appointment


1825 NW Vaughn Street, Suite B
Portland, OR 97209 United States
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