Sherbet pink, spray painted white, scribbles and muted text are some of the colours and images that dance across the canvases of Sarah crowEST’s recent paintings. Soft Eyes Dub Wise, the title of her upcoming exhibition at Gallery 9, refers to a dual influence on this series of works: dub music and the concept of ‘soft eyes’ that both propose gentle modes of seeing and perceiving.
Although crowEST talks of listening to dub since a teenager, she only recently recognised the connection between this style of music and her art practice, as with the concept of ‘soft eye’, brought to popular attention in the detective show The Wire. “For me a soft eye is almost a sort of feeling. You’re sort of behind your eyes and not focusing,” says crowEST. “So you can take in everything from all around without getting right into the detail. That’s often when other things come to mind intuitively, things will kind of occur to you – what’s right or wrong or strange about a scene, and I think this has similarities with dub music.”
Like dub music, lines exist in a freewheeling, hazy space with a raw linen canvas underbelly that peeps through the paint and grounds these paintings. “Dub music is atmospheric and spacial and creates a kind of surrounding, and then there’s these sort of light elements that come in and fade out and reoccur and echo. That kind of fragmentary call and response – it’s a de-centering of yourself and the way you look at things,” says crowEST.