In this dynamic new body of work, Sarah Contos looks to painting as a means to explore collage, textile and cinema. Inspired by the 1970s film genre Giallo, known for its for its dazzlingly lurid colours and stylized aesthetics, Contos weaves together a symphony of playful patterns, vivid hues and frame-within-frame compositions reminiscent of the cinematic experience.
Drawing inspiration from the cinematic standard of 24 frames per second, that is, the minimum speed needed to capture video while still maintaining realistic motion, Contos ingeniously utilises this rhythmic baseline as a compositional device to literally embed frames within frames. Here, her characters, an enigmatic mix of reality and imagination, beckon viewers with a mixture of confidence and vulnerability. Like proxies to our inner child, they usher us into realms of make-believe, pretence, and nostalgia, moving to the cadence of 24 frames per second – the very heartbeat of video and film. At the heart of the exhibition lies the concept of a “body double” a term that resonates both in cinema and psychology. Much like the cinematic technique where one actor substitutes for another, the figures in Contos’ paintings serve as substitutes for reality, exposing various hidden facets of our own nature. This dance of duality extends to the double lives we often lead, intriguingly blurring the lines between authenticity and façade and inviting us to reflect on the sincerity and masquerade – the reality and imagination – that coexist both on the canvas and within ourselves.
– Tallulah Smith, 2023