With an oeuvre that stretches over a decade, and mediums that traverse painting, performance and video, Lottie Consalvo is an artist who has been compelled to create since she was eight years old. But it was the secret act of generosity from her high school art teacher that shaped her art in ways she could never have imagined.
Consalvo recalls the experience of painting men with Schizophrenia when she was in her final year of school, ‘there was one man who was Tibetan and covered in tattoos, mainly of the Buddhist Swastika, he was very beautiful.’ These sittings gave her an ability to use her painting to reveal the complexity of the human experience and express what can’t be put into words.
Consalvo’s artwork possesses an authenticity and an emotional quality that is difficult to succinctly describe. At the core of her artistic expression lies a profound understanding of the metaphysical forces that permeate our reality. For a long time, the loss of her sister to what she describes as a “broken heart” was what compelled her to create, and more recently, the passing of her mother. More than an influence on her work, it is these experiences on her emotions and the memory, grief and trauma that drive her to try and make sense of the limitations of human beings and our understanding of the physical world. It’s this ‘pursuit of contentment’ that she describes as ‘futile, but genuine’.
She draws her symbols directly from her dreams and her subconscious, painting them in an expressionistic and gestural manner. These dancing, beating brushstrokes radiate as if with their own energy force, echoing the state of flow we all search for when we go beyond the physical. Either in heightened mental states or in the imagination and dreams. To truly engage with Consalvo’s work, is to experience something on a deep, spiritual level. The implication is that there is a realm beyond what we can see - one that lies beyond the limitations of our physicality.
She has never been compelled to beautify or perfect. Her idiosyncrasies, instead induce her to use a refined palette of neutrals and dark, tonal shades. Her canvases are usually large in size, drawing the viewer into her work and into another world. And, although her work is considered abstract in style, it is largely symbolist in nature. Once you truly engage with her art, it becomes clear that nature, love and connection are what holds us together, ‘I think that's where we find what we are all looking for.’
On International Women’s Day, Consalvo’s post on Instagram was the first time this usually enigmatic artist spoke up about her frustrations as a female artist. As an artist who has been exhibiting her work for thirteen years, you’d think she would be taken seriously. Although she says that the art world supports her, it’s the struggles with changing mindsets on women’s roles in a still present patriarchal society. When continuously questioned about her career, Consalvo says, “I feel unlike myself in these moments. I feel like I am seen as a mother and a wife only and not as me, which is a very strange feeling.”
Consalvo is a special kind of artist. She doesn’t preach from a soapbox or strive to change the world. Instead she is quiet, reflective and compassionate, and is compelled to create to make sense of what we all struggle to communicate. That the forces that shape our world cannot be fully comprehended or grasped, and yet they remain ever-present and influential.
Lottie lives with her husband (who is also an artist) and two young children on Awabakal Country in Newcastle, NSW. She has been the recipient of multiple residencies across Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Indonesia. In 2013 she was included in the Lake Macquarie City Gallery residency - in conjunction with Christo: John Kaldor Family collection artist rooms, and in 2015 she was part of the Marina Abramović artists' residency program, part of Marina Abramović: In Residence presented by Kaldor Public art projects, Project #30. She is represented by Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.
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