Untitled #4, 2012 from Water hole
Narelle Autio’s new series, Water hole, celebrates the otherworldly beauty of the dark waters she encountered whilst travelling through parts of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Driving through these dry and remote areas of Australia, she found herself pulled towards the isolated bodies of water that dot the landscape. These waterholes dictated the path of her travels, crossing the parched earth of the day to arrive at waters edge by afternoon.
Unlike earlier bodies of work, which celebrated the restorative powers of the coast, these new works explore these dark inland waters that seem more ancient and full of complexity, despite their stillness. The surfaces give nothing away and the depths offer only corridors of light for swimmers.
©Narelle Autio Untitled n°6, 2012 from Water hole
Diving in seems like returning to prehistory, with its alien landscapes and creatures. Autio’s images don’t offer an easy or obvious take on this beauty. Her figures are disconcertingly anonymous and at the mercy of their surroundings, invariably their heads are lost to abstracted fields of colour. Limbs don’t so much disappear into watery depths as protrude up from them, mirroring the knobbly silhouettes of coral.
©Narelle Autio Untitled n°2, 2012 from Water hole
Autio explores a mysterious and shadowy place beyond ordinary human experience. The distance between above and below the surface is more than merely physical. Her underwater landscapes contain an element of dark fantasy, like the mythological underworld of Persephone. Plant life rises, waxy and gnarled in texture like sculptural forms, weed scratches the surface of the visual plane like abstract expressionist drips of paint and uncountable hexagons of light seem to equally construct the images from dots as they fleck and obliterate their surfaces.
©Narelle Autio Untitled n°27, 2012 from Water hole