Madeline Collopy and Nate Finch have been art buddies for some time, sharing ideas, admiring each other’s practice and, from time to time, exhibiting together.
For their latest exhibition, What We Can at BMG, the pair decided to take their connection further and experiment with working on a few canvases together, a process that gave them greater insight into each other’s work as well as their own.
“It was much harder than we thought,” Collopy says. “We thought it would be easy to do because our works have a similar feel and sit well together, they complement each other, but it took us a while to figure out how to do it. In the end we worked together to resolve one piece at a time.”
“We feel the collab pieces fit nicely between our separate works, and that there’s a bit of both of us evident in the works,” Finch adds. “There is also a nice awkwardness about them, evidence of a struggle to create them, but that’s testament to the process, and we both love that and want it to be seen.”
The exhibition title, What We Can, is a comment on the reality of what it means to be an artist today. Both artists juggle other work commitments with their art practice and the exhibition is about what they can produce in the time they have available.
“We have to do ‘what we can’ when we can,” Finch says. “For me, doing 50-plus hours a week in my day job gets in the way of my creative swagger, but I get in the studio at every spare chance I get.”
Collopy adds: “The paintings are what the paintings are because we made them and no-one else. Even if they change over time, we will never be able to make that mark again. Whatever we made at that time is what the painting will be.”
As well as the collaborative pieces, the exhibition also features individual works by each artist. Collopy continues her focus on ideas around movement and the body, influenced by her background in dance. In these new works she is trying to experiment with more use of colour.
“Using lots of colour can make the paintings look really hectic,” she says. “Sometimes I look at them and think they are hideous but it’s good to work through that and realise that it’s okay.”
With his practice, Finch is making fewer marks on the canvas and his works are more restrained.
“I’m still using the same techniques, materials and vibrant colour but in a more pared back way – there’s a different energy,” Finch says. “I feel this new work is looser and freer, more playful and animated as opposed to the work I showed last year at BMG, it was darker, not in colour but in mood.”
While both Finch and Collopy still share a similar aesthetic in their practice it is clear who created the works by looking at them. The collaborative paintings further show the strength of both artists, the quieter, looser strokes of Finch compared to the more frenetic strokes of Collopy, which come together to create a certain harmony.
Madeline Collopy and Nate Finch: What We Can
Until Saturday, April 13