I absolutely L-O-V-E-D I Fuck Mountains!
From the moment I walked into Utopian Slumps, Amber Wallis’ vivid and passionate paintings swept me away. Upon first impressions they reminded me of the work of abstract impressionist Clyfford Still; in their immediacy, the expressive brushstrokes, thickly layered paint and striking colours that captured the burning intensity of the landscape.
While the paintings of mountains appeared to be somewhat representational at first, they revealed themselves as metaphoric, and the work as actually very sexual. The shape of the mountain, or the half oval, was repeated throughout the paintings. In the piece on the right below it takes on the form of a girls legs. Through repartition it shifts and acquires new meanings, slowly revealing the artists fixations or frustrations.
These two painting, which hung together, are fused with elements of collage and drawing. Magazine clippings are carefully assembled to form the sky. Ripped pieces of paper give shape to the horizon and foreground. Mountains are spontaneously sketched in black, as is the female figure, which emerges (perhaps subconsciously), from the environment around her.
Each piece is filled with raw emotion. The sheer force and depth of the scene conjures up feelings of isolation. The landscapes, while incredibly beautiful are also overwhelming; hills and valleys as far as the eye can see. No other sign of human or animal life exists. The one female pictured here is completely alone. This mood of extreme isolation amongst nature is emphasised by the fact that the woman is masturbating. Look closely at the picture above!
The title of the exhibition I Fuck Mountains is taken from a Pink Mountaintops song. It is obviously not to be taken literally. That would be impossible! But there is beauty in the impossibility of it. The title speaks further of this isolation, and connection to such penetrating surrounds.
The whole thing felt very natural. Like the work evolved without to much thought or planning, and the subject matters blurred perfectly into one. There was no need for Wallis to include obvious sexual symbols in all her paintings, as once I realised the true nature of the shapes and form, they spoke very clearly. They allowed my mind to wander. They allowed me to consider the possibilities in each bump or contour, to read so much more into every valley and every mountain.
I felt like the longer I stopped and looked at Wallis’ paintings the more I got out of them, in a similar way to actually being with nature. That’s not a feeling I get from many artists who paint landscapes, but Wallis’ landscapes were so much more than just that. I highly recommend visiting Utopian Slumps and seeing them for yourself.