The Impulse of Hysteria

Odette (detail) by Ashley Cullen
Odette (detail) by Ashley Cullen.

The Impulse of Hysteria

Ashley Cullen

EASS Award winner

Generator Gallery

14 May – 27 June 2021
Opening 6pm Friday 14 May

Sometimes vulnerable and often intimate, The Impulse of Hysteria confronts the messy aspects of being human on blunt and uneasy terms. In a collection of thirty paintings, Ashley Cullen’s first solo exhibition imagines a visceral world of faces and bodies. Figures are left sitting hunched and twisted in voids of churning colour, their expressions swinging between angst and manic glee.

Inspired by mythic figures, tragedy and personal relationships, Cullen’s paintings deal explicitly with themes of love and loss as well as the fleeting yet intense emotions that characterise us as uniquely human. Her painting process is an intuitive one which blends together a mixture of imagination and direct observation, exploring the moment where artistic intention ends and the piece is surrendered to chance, accident and disorder. “That moment”, she says, “is the instant when the painting begins to take on a life of its own.”

About the artist

Ashley Cullen

Originally from the UK, Ashley Cullen (b. 1998) is an artist based in Canberra ACT. Her portraits chart an intensely charged vision of the human experience, capturing people at their most raw and vulnerable moments. Growing up in a large family, Cullen has always been fascinated with describing those close to her through sketching and painting. After finishing college (2016) and winning the John Cope Award for Academic Excellence, Cullen would go on to pursue her love of painting at the Australian National University, specialising in visual art and literature. In her final year of university, she emerged as a finalist for both the Persistence Art Competition and the Global Undergraduate Awards, graduating with an ANU School of Art & Design EASS Belconnen Arts Centre Exhibition Award and the Eckersley’s Art & Craft Materials Award (2020).

You can follow Ashley on Instagram.