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Exhibition Review

Sensory experience of texture, form, and light: Stephen Thorpe

Luke Chapman

Dec 23, 2022

Enter the Forest at the Darkest Point is Stephen Thorpe’s second exhibition with Ora-Ora, Hong Kong, utilizing the gallery space to create an immersive experience. Upon entering the gallery, viewers are confronted with a graphic wall mural that seems to kaleidoscopically depict a forest. Inviting us into the eerie, thick brush and dark woodland, an environment that evokes familiar tales, myths and epics, intensifying and increasing the immersion. 


Zooming in on an artwork, the audience is welcomed into the artist's universe through the stylistic detail that call on various painterly languages from antiquity. Through the artist’s path of self discovery, we are drawn in and propositioned to let go of the past, challenged to revel in our own inner journey; into the darkness of the forest to confront our deeper emotions, accepting that life guarantees danger. By fully embracing the adventure however, it is possible to cathartically externalize inner thoughts and take the path to a sense of freedom.


Throughout history artists have affiliated their interests with psychological and philosophical studies. Thorpe has practiced predominantly painting of subjective interior spaces that bring into focus the psychological inner world. Semi consciously, in effect, Thorpe channels in elements such as a rug or a corner into his painterly world and withholds from defining a painted object's literal or symbolic meaning, inviting us to explore our own memories and imagination.



Stephen Thorpe
Left: Enter the Forest and Lose Your Mind and Find Your Soul, 2022, Oil on canvas, 91 x 76 cm (36 x 30 in.) 
Right: The Ancestral Realm, 2022, Oil on canvas, 91 x 76 cm (36 x 30 in.) 
Courtesy of the artist and Ora-Ora, Hong Kong 



For Thorpe the mystery of a symbol and the archetypal definition carried with it, proposes an implied individual experience. With this ambiguity we are able to interface, connecting at the “exterior world” where it could be said humanity today spends perhaps too much time in our own headspace. In essence it is in the collective consciousness that Thorpe's intuitions manifest via study of the sensory experience of texture, form, and light within the domestic space. 


In the exhibition Enter the Forest at the Darkest Point, Thorpe introduces rare pigments such as blue cobalt and techniques not seen in previous works. Simulating aspects of dynastic Chinese painting or offsetting planes of color and texture, Thorpe symbiotically furthers the narrative of the works through this internalized dialogue. Drawing us in with each painting, Thorpe beckons our relationship to each work, a corner of a room or fractal-like hallway. Familiar sights that could be metaphors for each of us to relate with.



Read more about:

Introspection ᐧ Symbolic images ᐧ Trompe l’oeil




Stephen Thorpe’s first solo exhibition with Ora-Ora, Hong Kong, titled Enter the Forest at the Darkest Point is on view until Jan 08, 2023. For more information about the exhibition, please click here.