Meet Imogen Porteous, an emerging Adelaide painter whose distinctive paintings have already attracted much local attention. At only 21 years of age, Porteous already has two university degrees and a solo exhibition under her belt. However, this success is surely just the beginning for the budding artist.
Porteous states she’s always indulged her creative side; “I’ve been painting all my life,” she says, stating that during school she was drawn to subjects that allowed her to draw, paint or just “come up with new ideas.”
Currently, Porteous mostly works with acrylics on canvas, preferring to apply the paint straight to the canvas with her hands using gestural strokes. Porteous says that art school taught her to “question everything”; as a result, she discarded her paintbrush and began to experiment with other techniques. She explains “nothing gave me the same experience of painting as using my hands”, and that this particular technique is very visceral and therapeutic for her. “I just found it very therapeutic…that’s why I love painting, feeling the texture of paint.” Porteous states “I work really quickly. Some paintings I can do in three hours. Other paintings take me a couple weeks, if I want to develop depth in the work.”
Porteous’s work is largely grounded in her study of feminist theory.“I was a bit lost with my artwork, and so researching women throughout history, and also contemporary artists looking at gender, really helped me to understand myself, my personality and my experience,” she says. “I’ve been using artwork as a way of expressing my own experience as a young woman.” Porteous’s choice to apply paint to the canvas with her hands is also connected with these philosophies.“In feminist theory I’ve read a lot about how the feminine is concerned with tactility and a sense of touch, whereas the sense of sight is considered to be male. I’m working with the idea that the feminine is the power of touch.”
Porteous acknowledges that due to the abstract nature of her work “people wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell I’m making a feminist work if I didn’t have the writing with it”, so she incorporates clues in the form of symbols and messages within her pieces. “There’s little symbols I put in. I put a lot of hidden text in my work. You can see it if you look hard enough. I use gloss paint and then I write into it, you can see it at a certain angle when the light hits it.”
One of Porteous’s biggest successes as an artist to date was her solo exhibition at Urban Cow Studio. The exhibition, titled Second Nature, opened in September 2016. “Second Nature sort of developed out of this idea that identity is a fluid and constantly developing thing. It was referring to my own identity as a creative woman and how that’s changing all the time.”
Having just completed her Graduate Diploma in Visual Art and Creative Practice, Porteous hopes to travel to America in future to visit “the abstract expressionist hubs, like Chicago and New York.”
All images via Imogen Porteous Visual Artist's Facebook page.