Walk In The Clouds

A review of the exhibition by Jasmine Storey

Held at Last School, July 20 to August 7 2021

There is something in Jasmine Storey’s installation that smacks of a particular lineage; not in a stiff-collared academic sense, but one more transcendental, Borgesian- indeed, “every writer creates his own precursors.” Well, the same may be said for all the arts, and here at Last School on a hot summer late afternoon, I was privileged enough to commune with them myself, through Storey’s monumental installation. 

Photograph by Piero Cefaloni
Photograph by Piero Cefaloni

The first striking aspect was the play of natural light on the paintings, which indeed was not at all accidental. “I wanted it to be about the space first,” Jasmine explains, and true enough, perhaps the most remarkable facet of her work as a whole is that it manages to make the space breathe. This is something perhaps taken for granted, yet one look at an overview of contemporary installation art quickly shows how rare this facet actually is. Due to the school’s open structure and her use of transparent plastic as a substrate, constantly changing light hits surfaces and edges at varying angles at different parts of the day, adding another dramatic layer to the work. This aspect only now reminds me of the first artist that came to mind when viewing Storey’s exhibit, Georgia O’Keefe. There is an obsessive simplicity, a precision of both intention and execution, and a vision of nature as an unblemished whole that the two artists share to an exhaustive degree, with Jasmine’s cloudscapes leaning more toward abstract impressionism- her huge pink canvas catches, or rather produces, light in a way I’ve only otherwise seen in Philip Guston’s early masterpieces. Similar, her stormy skies had a distinctly negative quality, a feeling of light being sucked inward, toward some indefinable break in the firmament. 

Photograph by Piero Cefaloni

“Well, Monet, obviously,” she answers, when I ask about her influences. At first I pass it off with a semi-confused wave- ‘obviously, of course…’ But it makes more sense the more I puzzle over it. What I saw as a Rothko-esque expressionism in the size and alchemic light properties of her canvases was not a single emotional outpouring, but the adoption of “a medium of contemplation”. The clouds are Storey’s personal water-lily pond- to observe, to feel that curious sense of both ownership and amazement over, to try and capture as world-within-world- a friend, an object, a subject, and a continual source of inspiration. This is art that invites the viewer not into an alternate universe of fantasy, only a different stratum of their own; this is the aspect that still gives such a pastel, dreamlike exhibit the ability to shock. 

Photograph by Piero Cefaloni

“But after breath and breaking shadows,

Past the grandiose glow,

What am I left with?

And where do I go?”

So reads one of the canvases of poetry that hang side-by-side with the paintings, and it is a telling one. Where does one go at the end of any journey, including and perhaps especially the AV school system? Walk In The Clouds is a crafted space of gentle defiance, against any sense of finality. There is beauty to be found in chaos, it says, if we only look up with a serious eye once in a while.

Article by Dhani Muniz