The illusory assemblages that Lydia Wegner makes and photographs on her studio tabletop are “quite intimate little constructions”, she says. They’re abstractions made from familiar, everyday materials like paper, dowel and scraps of shiny plastic, but that’s not always easy to tell. “Sometimes when you put the lights on, it can really change what you’re seeing, especially if there are reflective elements.”
Wegner’s images are vivid and playful. Creating for over a decade, the Melbourne-based artist uses strong torches and coloured gels to alter shadows and compositions. She disrupts the sense of a clear foreground and background; elements appear to rest or float together, if only for a moment. “I want to find some kind of balance within the frame and create visual abstractions that make you question, ‘What am I seeing?’” she says.
She’s often inspired by architecture and the shapes and shadows of Melbourne, but her constructions evolve as she works. “After the initial few images, I might adjust what I have been doing on the tabletop, changing the colour gel on the light, or adding or subtracting another piece of material.” Her works come together in that moment of the camera flash. “I enjoy the spontaneity of photography—working quickly and finding these little moments that you can’t really plan for,” she explains.
In her latest assemblages at Arc One Gallery, she has pared her compositions back, working with a fairly small set of geometric components. In one, she has set a red square and black circle inside a cross. Another splices two images of curved paper into a searing wave. They’re works about form, colour, perception and light— and what happens in the shadows.
Arc One Gallery
30 November—28 January 2023
This article was originally published in the November/December 2022 print edition of Art Guide Australia.