SUPERPOWER: Karyn Lyons, Aimée Parrott, Allison Schulnik

18 June - 16 July 2022

Sim Smith is proud to present SUPERPOWER, featuring works by Karyn Lyons (b.1963, US), Aimée Parrott (b.1987, UK) and Allison Schulnik (b. 1978, US).


The exhibition is a celebration of lived experience and memories kept as a woman. It is a journey through the emotions of adolescence, birth and motherhood, the body, nature and metamorphosis. Ghostly, floating, strange yet familiar, sensitive yet powerful. The exhibition explores the female body and relationships in various landscapes; our deep connections to the earth, to the places we inhabit and to those around us.


The Recurring Dream by Karyn Lyons (pictured) was one of the first paintings made for this exhibition, a girl suspended in mid-air, hovering over a roof of a house in a verdant garden - jumping or floating we do not know. The painting is lush, fuzzy, dreamlike but real, like something we have seen before. It speaks to the extremes of our adolescent experiences, of heightened emotions, fantasies, thrills and frustrations. Through the depictions of her figures in interior space, Lyons conjures an affecting sense of mood and emotion through the everyday. Self-perception and self-esteem unravel in these spaces, in an intoxicating and heady portrayal of experiences lived or maybe even only dreamt about.


Lyons' recreation of adolescent experience is so tangible you can taste it; its relentlessness, its ennui, its ache and vulnerability. This fascination with young female experience turns the potential superficiality of such a subject on its head, reclaiming girlish dreams, spaces and memories as activities worthy of consideration.  


Combining methods of painting and printmaking, Aimée Parrott creates different spaces which explore the idea of illusionary or imagined space and how we process the world around us. She approaches the canvas like a layer of skin, simulating how the world imprints itself on our bodies. Transferring pigments from screen to canvas, Parrott creates unstructured, nebulous forms which although evade obvious categorisation, are inextricably linked to the female body and the natural world. The warmth of the earth and the skin and the cool of the water, when we see Parrott's paintings we feel, we float and connect to visceral, deep, sensory memories. Veil-like layers of pigment are dyed and screen printed on to canvas, sometimes painted or sometimes the canvas is left raw and hand stitched. We are invited to consider the texture, the marks beyond the physical and into another realm. Ghostly traces of pigment feel dreamlike, opening pathways between our bodies, the celestial and the natural world. Parrott moves beautifully through time and space journeying through the unreliability of personal memory as she goes.


Allison Schulnik is known for her portrayal of emotional vulnerability and exploration of nostalgia, childhood memories, dreams and more recently, motherhood. Working in animation for this show, MOTH is a traditionally animated, hand painted, gouache-on-paper film, a culmination of hundreds of gouache paintings created over the course of 14 months by Schulnik in her desert studio in California. The animation is set to "Gnossienne No. 1," written by Erik Satie and performed by Los Angeles-based musician Nedelle Torrisi. A haunting exploration of transformation; humans, animals, insects, larvae and landscapes evolve and develop only to metamorphose into something new. The journey is a spellbinding meditation, a lesson in impermanence and a dance through the many stages of life, death and magic of existence. Schulnik takes us through the very visceral and primal emotions of pregnancy, birth and motherhood in this film in a beautifully complex portrait of contemporary womanhood.


The artists in this show share a highly personal visual language. Often charged with symbolic meaning, their imagery illustrates a profound relationship between us and the places we have visited, journeyed through, or inhabited. Almost hallucinatory imagery delves deep into our elemental relationship with nature and those around us - often watched by the moon in many of these works. We are encouraged to roam, through phases of reflection and solitude, desire and fear, healing and intuition in an embodiment and representation of life cycles, voyages, and rites of passage.