Birch Contemporary

Renée Van Halm: Depth of Field

Depth of Field, the title of Renée Van Halm’s most recent body of work, is a photographic term used to describe the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear sharp in an image. Van Halm works with a range of dislocated backgrounds, removed from their original contexts and represented either in or out of focus, upsetting the accepted hierarchy of foreground to background.  

Van Halm culls disembodied bits of backgrounds from décor and fashion magazines and replaces the large resultant voids with expanses of pure colour that mimic the hues of origami paper. These background fragments combined in irregular geometries - curves and angles - build a tension between figuration and abstraction, disrupting conventional figure/ground, subject/object relationships. The resultant paintings represent a subtle shift, a translation, from the printed images and the bodies of colour, to marks and fields rendered in paint. 

There is a familiarity in the Depth of Field paintings that comes in part from their recognisable source imagery – a blurry landscape, an interior detail, a cropped leg of a chair, a shadow of an invisible object - the overlooked aspects of the highly constructed presentation of our material culture.