I walked past this brilliant work in the Prospect Portrait Prize exhibition and am now kicking myself that I did not stop to take a closer look. It is a charcoal on paper, but I think I should be forgiven for thinking it was a photograph. This accomplished artist has had 5 sell-out shows in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney and she only graduated from for Bachelor of Visual arts in 2009! Kim won the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Award in 2009 and was the winner of the Limestone Coast Art Prize in both 2010 and 2011. She has been a finalist in a number of prizes including the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing and the National Youth Self Portrait Prize. Conatus is a Latin word meaning, tendency, endeavour, undertaking or striving. She has shown herself in a sea of blackness being crushed from above by the weight of the frame of her work. And no wonder, they must take her hours to complete. Her works feature figures in poses reminiscent of a foetus in utero, hunched, crouching and vulnerable in its form. Yet this work has strength, solid muscle tone and vivid chiaroscuro. The title gives a frank suggestion what she is seeking to portray through her portrait. It is her brilliant technique which is on show, yet that does not exist on its own. She has coupled it with stark form and robust texture. The work is also something which is intellectually stimulating through its titles. “Conatus” is a word that I needed to look up is was so obscure yet it sums up her style. As I delved further into her work I came across another portrait “Burden of Lachesis” is also a charcoal drawing on paper. She is wearing the same dress yet is involved in a struggle, with multiple selves dragging a thick thread across the picture plane. Lachesis was normally seen clothed in white, and is the being responsible for measuring the thread woven by Clotho’s spindle. Some say she determines Destiny, or thread of life. Lachesis is one of three sisters who were said to appear to decide a baby’s fate within three days of its birth. For Buck she carries this burden, possibly it is woven into the creation of work itself. It is a portrait showing a struggle, a burden. Maybe Buck is saying that she may determine her own fate, yet this in itself carries a cost, a burden which she must bear. Often Kim buck’s work seems theatrical, with the bold background contrasting with the statuesque figure involved in struggling poses, almost as if they were captured mid-dance. I love her work and am going back to view it further before this exhibition ends.
You can view more of her work at http://www.kimbuck.com.au/