Sophie Gannon Gallery is pleased to present ‘All will reveal itself when you dive in and dive in deep’, Juz Kitson’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

“All solitary dreamers know that they hear differently when they close their eyes.” 1.

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Like a cosmos, Juz Kitson’s works are expansive, delicate and wild. Kitson’s first solo exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery asks you to move through a rites of passage. ‘All will reveal itself when you dive in and dive in deep’ casts you into mystery. Free standing and wall based works featuring ceramic urns, reclaimed furs and flameworked Venetian glass stud the gallery. These future relics conjure strange new forms from the peripheries of what you think you know. Like an alchemist, Kitson pushes the boundaries of form and material to question the nature of self, body and transformation. These sculptural morphologies beckon you closer, whispering to the secrets of caves, and the pleasure of sunlight touching skins to make flowers bloom.

Kitson’s forms operate like organisms and dark fantasies of nature, with softened spikes, tumbling tendrils, and lipped petals . The qualities of sex and sexuality is ever present as a visceral experience through the tactile surfaces. In Elizabeth Grosz’s discussions of corporeal feminism, she explains that the term “sex” refers, not to sexual impulses, desires, wishes, hopes, bodies, pleasures, behaviours and practices: but to the domain of sexual difference, to the question of the morphologies of bodies”. 2. So perhaps if Kitson’s sculptural anatomies centre around sensation, they move us to consider new forms of expression past the human binary. Desire in Kitson’s work is complex; her objects cluster and seperate with a competing attraction and repulsion for each other as we also feel the same lust and disgust at their abject beauty.

The title work of this exhibition highlights both a continuation and a new direction for 2023. Coral like tubular bodies hand built from Raku clay stand upright, grouped collectively like a self replicating terrestrial. The gleaming silver glaze, reminiscent of the wet bodies of rocks drenched by the sea near Kitson’s south coast studio in Milton NSW. Like a Hydra or a trans human sentinel, they connect with each other, through valves and aortas, running the same silver blood like a ball of mercury, continually splitting itself to pump through their ocean bodies.

Standing resplendent, Kitson’s series of urns gather at eye level with a kind of spotlit drama and the repeat of an incantation. Pushing the physical boundaries of form and material through their striking size and intricate detail, the tops of the urns open like the petals of lilies. Dry carbon blacks shift to highly reflected metallic glazes of silver and gold. Like votives, you find yourself uttering unexpected wishes. Reimagining your ‘self’ as another…would you rise resplendent to bloom in darkness or fracture into brilliant prisms of light to meet the sun?

Moving through shades of colour like the undergrowth of a jungle, the glazes mimic swampy greens and the deep mythic azure of the Aegean sea. Two brilliant bright blue and pink urns stand vividly apart; as if transported from an ultraviolet wonderland that nectar seeking butterflies might see through compound eyes.

‘Push the sky away; what dreams may come’ draws from Kitson’s early interest in Freud and the unconscious, this work holds a strangeness in its monumental classicism echoed in the architectural language of the plinth stairway base. There is a counterpoint between states – the geometric line of steps leading to the organic outlines of a beast like shape. Much like the house, made to be ‘permanent’ out of stone or wood, this structure that holds our bodies, also contains our state of being, something of the ether, our breath and our past. Bachelard, describes this merging of architecture and the self as memory and past, reminding us that “we bring our lares with us.” 3. Kitson physicalises this manifestation of shadows, perhaps the lares in our minds eye or the unconscious self in its true form.

Wall based glass and reclaimed fur works such as ‘The Shadows make the light shine brighter’, includes glass turquoise spines drawing out like the stamen of a flower or retracting claws sinking into the black fur toes of a midnight cat. The bulbous drops of glass hang centred after being hot blown and pressed quickly on the knot and hollow of a wooden stump. These phallic tear drops are petrified and stilled in the slowness of time. ‘The secret of the golden flower’, with its nod to Taoism, evokes arctic tundras in the clumps of rabbit furs as we trip and move to the remotest regions seeking answers from our origins. Venetian glass made hot with a flame torch, has been twisted into a golden flower like the impossibility of an enchantment. In ‘The Future is your Ocean Oyster II’ feather forms arch out summoning both weight and lightness. It is like a ritual judgement from the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. Once “the heart was the seat of both emotions and consciousness…the nucleus of identity.” Unlike other organs, rather than embalming, the heart would be weighed against the feather representing ‘truth, order, justice’. 4. With every lie, the heart in the pan sinks. How might we understand the anatomies of a mind or the past and the present resting in the presence of a body?

The expressive tension within Kitson’s works are undeniable. As we gaze into them, we are lost in the hidden intricacy of light and shadow. These strange manifestations of an unconscious, process the memory of internal anatomies, of lovely bones and licked fur. Kitson’s forms contain an externalised interiority, like skins folded inside out. They hold vulnerabilities, ecstasy , desire and sex – a conglomerate of the uncomfortable, the beauty of the dark vitrified by fire. They are open mouthed, with the clarity to see and feel, to fumble and push, like tendrils seeking light. The surfaces of the kiln fired ceramic have been moved with the memory of hands that moulded and shaped them. Contained in these expressions are the forms of violence, death, beauty and decay. They are etched with light, air and heat, undergoing their own transformation.

Like a dream in which you cannot trust your sight but must sense with your knowingness to navigate the blur of the familiar. ‘All will be revealed when you dive in and dive in deep’ asks you revel in the freedom of the unknown and the expanded expressions of possibility. You may reemerge differently, reconnected to a new anatomy. In a post industrial future, you might bloom again with a new blood racing like the tidal pulse of an ocean.

– Exhibition essay by Rosalind Lemoh, 2023.

1. Bachelard, Gaston The Poetics of Space (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994),181
2. Grosz, Elizabeth, Space, Time and Perversion, Essays on the Politics of Bodies (Routledge, 1995) pg 213
3. Bachelard, Gaston The Poetics of Space (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), p9
4. Assman, Jan, Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, translated by Lorton, David, (United States: Cornell University Press, 2005) pg 75