Halinka Orszulok

Ponies, 2018

oil on canvas

150 x 100 cm

From the artist

"My paintings represent night-time environments that are contradictory, ambiguous and often unacknowledged, like the unhomely home or landscape that belongs to neither nature nor culture. As much psychological spaces as physical ones, my aim is to activate this fluid link between self, space and meaning.

The photograph from which I made this painting was taken at a playground in Cataract Gorge, Launceston. I was interested in visiting and photographing this place as it fulfilled some important criteria for me. It is a landscape with strong, moody, artificial-light which causes the world to fall into stark contrast, lending a cinematic quality, and contains complex, interwoven layers of signification.

Right on the edge of Launceston, the Gorge exists at the intersection of nature, culture and history. A natural playground, it echoes Romantic ideas about the role of nature and the sublime - as a counterpoint to the ills of modern society. Yet with its playgrounds and peacocks it also reflects the devolvement of those ideals into wilderness parks as places for pleasure and spectacle. It could be said that the complexities of our human-centric and historically entrenched relationship to the natural world are in some way expressed here, and mirror tensions found in the greater landscape of Tasmania.

I found the pretty plastic ponies riding through the verdant Tasmanian forest a particularly evocative image - an introduced species recalling the invasion of this island. They are also symbols with a strong pull on the subconscious. There is a dream-like quality to this image. I have dreamt of riding horses through both familiar and unexpected environments. To me they represent power, freedom and escape. There is always room in my work for the personal. The image I present is a moment in an open ended story where the viewer must arrive at their own meaning."

Judges Comments

Speaking on behalf of the three independent judges, Mr Tony Stephens said that the judges arrived at a unanimous decision in choosing Halinka Orszulok’s winning painting, ‘Ponies’, for the 15th Glover Prize.

“The painting stands out as it is more of a psychological landscape rather than a literal interpretation of the land and the ambiguity of the scene is thought-provoking. Humans are absent from this public space as it is depicted as a night-time reflection.

“Technically it is extremely well executed, the chiaroscuro effect gives the work a cinematic effect and hints at possible drama on an otherwise innocent park land. This extends the narrative of the landscape, giving it greater depth and intrigue,” Mr Stephens said.

Artist background

My paintings represent night-time environments that are contradictory, ambiguous and often unacknowledged, like the unhomely home or landscape that belongs to neither nature nor culture. As much psychological spaces as physical ones, my aim is to activate this fluid link between self, space and meaning. The photograph from which I made this painting was taken at a playground in the Cataract Gorge, Launceston. It is a landscape with strong, moody, artificial-light causing the world to fall into stark contrast. This leads to a cinematic quality, containing complex, interwoven layers of signification. I found the pretty plastic ponies riding through the verdant Tasmanian forest a particularly evocative image – an introduced species recalling the invasion of this island.