Gemma O’Brien is a Sydney based illustrator and artist working predominantly with lettering and typography in the design and advertising world. In her second show at China Heights, Presence, she continues to explore her interest in the relationship between the content of language with its visual appearance. Bold letterforms are delicately integrated with flowing line work, intricate patterns and botanical elements. The text can be deciphered as a statement or simply read as an aesthetic object.
Having spent two years creating large scale murals for commercial clients, O’Brien sees ‘Presence’ as an opportunity to push the boundaries of legibility and explore the possibilities of abstract concepts in the meaning of the text. A collection of disparate phrases were collected by the artist over the last year, influenced by news, social media, pop culture and everyday conversations. Linked by the ideas of desire, purpose, pleasure and morality, the texts are a personal reflection on the ethics of feeling good in an age of global uncertainty.
In ‘Presence’, two large canvases accompany an 8 meter long mural painted directly onto the gallery wall. Documentation of the installation adds a performative element to the process, distancing it further from the traditionally static nature of printed typography. The installation exists for a number of days, before being painted over forever. The limited time in which it can be applied and experienced creates an energy that is embedded in brush strokes left behind.