Guest curated by Jennifer Higgie
20 July – 23 September 2023
Thin Skin is an exhibition of contemporary and historical paintings by Australian and international artists who explore the liminal space between figuration and abstraction.
It is guest curated by Australian, London-based writer, curator and former editor of frieze magazine, Jennifer Higgie. It features works by thirty-six artists.
As a term, 'thin skin' is joyfully ambiguous. Thin Skin refers not only to the delicate membrane that separates body, mind and environment, but to other borders: thresholds between reason and unreason, wisdom and foolishness, life and death, the conscious and unconscious, laughter and weeping. To have 'thin skin' is to be hypersensitive to the world around you. Paint is a thin skin on a surface.
Some of the artists selected for Thin Skin employ absurdity, slapstick, parody, caricature and/or dreamlike logic to explore themselves and their place in the world. Others depict bodies in rich, often intertwined, conversations with the psyche, the land, domestic or work environments and with animals. Thin Skin also embraces the idea of 'thin places', an ancient term of mysterious provenance that refers to locations with a unique or peculiar energy. They are places that attract spirits; they appear when the distance between earth and heaven narrows. In Thin Skin, the ephemeral is made tangible.
Artists include Mamma Andersson (SE), Michael Armitage (KE/GB), Paul Becker (GB), Gordon Bennett (AU), Karen Black (AU), Mia Boe (Butchulla-Burmese/AU), Lisa Brice (ZA/GB), Mitch Cairns (AU), David Egan (AU), Tracey Emin (GB), Denzil Forrester (GD/GB), Peter Graham (AU), Ellen Gronemeyer (DE), Brent Harris (NZ/AU), Tamara Henderson (CA/AU), Donna Huddleston (IE/AU/GB), Dorota Jurczak (PL), Tom Kreisler (AR/NZ), Tala Madani (IR/US), Helen Maudsley (AU), Nick Modrzewski (AU), Sidney Nolan (AU/GB), David Noonan (AU/GB), Jennifer Packer (US), Jem Perucchini (ET/IT), Rosslynd Piggott (AU), Tom Polo (AU), Gareth Sansom (AU), Kieran Seymour (GB/AU), Vivienne Shark LeWitt (AU), John Spiteri (AU), Jelena Telecki (HR/AU), Michelle Ussher (AU/GB), Jenny Watson (AU), Rose Wylie (GB) and Ms D. Yunupiŋu (Gumatj-Rirratjiŋu/AU).
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring new writing by Jennifer Higgie and Chloe Aridjis, award-winning Mexican-American novelist and writer. It will be co-published by MUMA and Monash University Publishing and launched at the exhibition opening.
ABOUT THE CURATOR Jennifer Higgie is an Australian writer who lives in London. The former editor of frieze magazine, she is the presenter of Bow Down, a podcast about women in art history, the author of The Mirror and the Palette: 500 Years of Women's Self-Portraits, the novel Bedlam; the author and illustrator of the children's book There's Not One; and the editor of The Artist's Joke.
Her new book, The Other Side: Women, Art and the Spirit World, was published in February 2023. Her BBC Radio 3 five-part essay on the subject was broadcast in January 2022.
In 2015, Higgie curated the Hayward Touring and Arts Council Collection exhibition One Day, Something Happens: Pictures of People, which toured the United Kingdom from 2015–17. She has been a judge of the John Moore's Painting Prize, the Paul Hamlyn Award, the Turner Prize and the 2021 Freelands Painting Prize and a member of the advisory boards of Arts Council England, the British Council Venice Biennale Commission and the Contemporary Art Society. She is currently on the Imperial War Museum Art Commissions Committee.
Higgie has a BA Fine Art (Painting) from the Canberra School of Art, and a MA (Fine Art, Painting) from Victoria College of the Arts, Melbourne; her paintings are in various public and private collections in Australia.
Thin Skin opens 20 July – 23 September 2023 at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Ground Floor, Building F, Monash University, Caulfield Campus, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East. monash.edu/muma