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Sophie Bayntun


Bayntun’s abstract figurations inhabit intimate social spaces, jostling and pressing against each other in dimly lit and richly hued restaurants, terraces, living rooms. Displaying a range of emotion almost operatic if not for their delicate subtleties, these figures occupy her paintings not as bodies but as fully developed characters. Ambivalent, uncertain, contemptuous and tender all at once, her women gaze directly and unflinchingly, sometimes at each other and sometimes out towards the viewer, as if you’ve just stumbled into an evidently private conversation. Indeed, Bayntun sees the figures in her paintings as characters that she lives with, imbued with meaning as time passes, and she makes alterations to them daily as she works on a canvas. This process of adding, taking away, creating openings continues until she feels she has brought into the world the thing, however intangible, that inspired her in the first place. Bayntun’s figures are rarely representative of individuals but rather corporeal manifestations of emotion, whether that be feelings of longing, dreaming or nostalgia. “They are a balance of shapes, expressions of movement and feelings related in figurative form.”

The figures are lit by the light of a domestic lamp, candle, the fading dusk from outside the window. Sophie’s muted colour palette is deliberate: “The palette I use reflects the emotional associations I have had with people, places and moments in time.”