Refugees are caught quietly in the compass quadrant of North, East, South, West. Arvilla’s large encaustic and carbon painting places these overlooked and desperate people at the front of mind.
The all-encompassing quadrant maps the universal nature of the refugee crisis and marks our time as the age of the displaced. The figures drifting on the overloaded boat seem hostage to fortune and the fickle waters.
North, East, South, West forms a polemic against Australia’s treatment of refugees in forced detention, and points to an endemic, institutional blindness to their humanity. Numbers cover the faces of the unnamed and on the horizon-line the coast beckons ‘LAND HERE’: an invitation, just out of reach.
Arvilla has experimented with the encaustic medium to embed these images in the wax. The artist repeatedly photocopied each image, printing over the reproductions again and again to build up thick tracks of carbon. By applying the printed sheets to areas of hot wax and then scraping away the cooled pages, Arvilla transferred the image to the wax surface, printing the wax with carbon. Here encaustic painting meets printmaking to form a new mode of painting.