Stephanie Vandem‘s Lifting series explores themes of resilience, character and classical heroism with the depiction of Highland games athletes. Lifting looks at the Heavy Events of the Scottish Highland Games and explores ideas of struggle and resilience in modern society. The images allude to the individuals’ level of endurance, showmanship and shared cultural identity which works as a support mechanism for achievement. Placed on the canvas against an atemporal background of muted Highland colours; the images draw inspiration from Latin American Muralism, World Mythology, as well as, the large compositions of the Renaissance. In particular Michelangelo’s hyped anatomy for the Sistine Chapel. The public arena of the Games highlights the importance of ‘community support’, and how mental resilience is as paramount to muscular strength for the competitors’ success. There is a sense of frozen expectation as we await to see if the characters will make the challenge or not. Despite its focus on struggle, semantically, Lifting conveys the notion of movement rather than stagnation. Where the action of weight-bearing ultimately offers the possibility of release, of letting go.
Will we succeed or will we fail? At that crucial moment will we have the strength, determination and character to carry our burden or will we drop it? This is the essence of “Lifting” a new exhibition by Stephanie Vandem. The idea of “Lifting” has a focus on struggle but also conveys the notion of movement rather than stagnation, the weight-bearing ultimately offering the possibility of release and letting go. Using the colours and culture of the Highland Games the larger than life images in this exhibition draw inspiration from Latin American Muralism, the Titans of Greek Mythology and large compositions of the Renaissance. Stephanie has “sculpted” the protagonists out of the canvas to create archetypal figures who depict the potential for triumph over adversity.
Now settled in North East Scotland, Stephanie Vandem is Brazilian by birth but has studied, lived and worked in Paris, London, New York, Florence and The Cayman Islands. Stephanie’s paintings can be found in several international private collections. Lifting will be on show in The Blue Roof Gallery, Oyne with an opening on the evening of Friday 15th June. The exhibition will continue for six weeks.
Inverurie AB52 6QS