(Above) Basement Available Now, Fully Furnished (2020). Colour Pencil, spray paint and graphite on handmade paper. 29 x 42cm
Reality is having a laugh at our expense. A deep, elongated belly laugh that creates ripples in the heavy, velvet fabric of our world. You go to move but have learned (the hard way) that what was once concrete, is now more likely to give way beneath you. It is sticky, it is absorbing, it is quite possibly jelly. Day in day out, this wrong-footing makes its own rhythm, an anti-heartbeat that stutters uncontrollably, or else stretches and lags like neon strings of gum. The rhythm is not quite danceable, but it becomes possible, gradually, to live by. It is an adjustment – the refocusing of a lens so that initial blurriness forms suddenly sharper edges. Soft bewilderments becoming geometry before your cat-like eye.
In this series of drawings, begun in the tumultuous summer of 2020, Rita Evans gives form and vivid colour to the experience of processing seismic global events from the slippery edge of the bath. Hers is an intensified interior landscape, the site of malleable, transformative encounters between us and the textures of our domestic world. There is precarity and disintegration at every turn, but there is endless possibility too. Her abstraction of bodies, objects and spaces into a common visual language of colour and shape, creates their shared and equal potential for slippage, for movement that is fluid – queasy but full of juice. Each of these drawings is the holding of a moment. Out of solitude, stillness and the tactile process of pencil on paper, a space opens up, expansive and exciting; suddenly there is a crowd, a problem, a question, a door! They map our desire for communication and physical touch, tracing its edges and forming blueprints for its expansion beyond limits, both real and of the mind.
I for one am grateful for the strategies they suggest. For something fantastic. For laughing. For
a door where there wasn’t a door. For wherever we are at this moment – necessarily indoors or
ecstatically out – striding toward one another, nothing but jelly underfoot.
Amy Lay-Pettifer, 2021, Aleph Contemporary Solo Exhibition, Rita Evans.
I’m thinking about the way the titles of your recent drawings pierce through the hypnotic atmosphere of their imagery. Titles such as ‘I tried to move in, but it fell through’, ‘My money melted, but that’s ok because so did the bank’, or ‘Basement, available now, fully furnished’ talk so much of our recent material and financial realities and the flip side of creative labour. Can you tell me a little about these images and words?
These were made in the winter of lockdown where I was renting a tiny and damp yet strangely cosy room to save money and find space to figure out, ‘what next?’ and redundancy was looming for everyone. I made the room an oasis for thoughts and plants, so my domestic environment became a portal for my wilder imaginings of new spaces. The plants, the rising damp and water in the sink became gateways to this. I think there’s a strength in finding a personal imaginary space in the things immediately around us when times are challenging. Some of the drawings feature bar charts, I was thinking about abstract imagery in the news, and trying to reconcile that with the effects on everyday life. The drawings picture the challenge to stay broad in a time of closing down. The heavily psychedelic imagery does give me a sense of the claustrophobia of the time.
I wasn’t able to play my sculptures with others during the pandemic, (until I made some socially distanced sculptures) but I thought about one of my sculptures which is a playable piped instrument that combines body with materials, where water droplets from breath vapour change the tones of pipes as they are played. My room, the bank, the instrument, all hermetic liquidy damp existences of multiple singing beings. Interview with Salome Salmacis, 2021
Tuning in a vacuum, and Other Drawings from 2020: