For our final instalment of On Stillness, we have chosen a work by Jacqueline Hennessy who graduated from NAS in 2019 with a Masters of Fine Art (Painting). In her ghostly paintings of female figures, Hennessy explores how to give visual form to her lived experience of being in the world. Her painting process involves staining clear primed Belgian linen with thin washes of raw umber and lead white oil paint. Hennessy builds her images up over time in transparent layers, gradually developing fragile and ghostly feminine figures that seemingly emerge as they dissolve into the linen support.
The significance of Hennessy’s work lies in its attempt to create painted self-portraits that surpass the autobiographical and deal instead with phenomenological and conceptual concerns about the mystery of beingness. By setting up a dialogue between painting and photography, Hennessy questions relationships between the two and explores painting’s potential to transcend the descriptive and articulate more complex and enigmatic experiences of being in the world.
Image: Jacqueline Hennessy, How to disappear completely, 2019, oil on linen, 122 x 92 cm, National Art School Collection, acquired through the NAS Collection Fund, 2019 © the artist