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Rebecca Wallis

Rebecca Wallis - Innermost - 30x30.jpg

"Painting has been subject to intensive scrutiny for some decades now, not just from those who have questioned its primacy as an artistic medium, but from artists themselves who have pulled it apart and put it back together again like amateur mechanics learning about car engines by trial and error, or scientists studiously searching for answers in cells or microbes. Rebecca Wallis is clearly interested in the mechanics of painting – the process as well as the thing – and has something of the scientist’s zeal for matter laid bare or in its constituent parts. But her recent paintings also exhibit a depth of feeling that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of her discipline. Wallis has developed methods of catching mixes of medium and paint on the sides, fronts and sometimes the backs of thin fabrics – most recently silk – attached to invariably square stretchers. I say “catch” because the splodges, stains and dribbles have the appearance of having been in motion, thrown or dropped, landing on the canvas by chance. This is only partly true, however, because the “accident” is predetermined, to some extent controlled in terms of location and direction" - Edward Hanfling


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Studio Visit


Rebecca Wallis talking about her current exhibition "The Weight of Meaninglessness" on at Grey Gallery

Aimee Interview with Rebecca Wallis:

Rebeccas work resides upon planes of Raw silk, the delicate and semi transparent fabric allows the supporting frame work beneith to show through.

Already, without a mark being made, the usual expectation around a paintings surface, its beginning and end has been turned upon its head.

Added to the silk are washes of faded colour – diluted red hues which separate at the edges into brused blues as the raw silk absorbs them her way.  These washes, shy yet threatnening in their tone, add a depth of darkness to the paintings, and indeed allude to the story of the work.

It is upon these emo surfaces that Rebecca hurls her mediums, creating the visual crecendo upon the corrupted silk. Using reds and translucents (and purple) theses mediums are left to intertwine and dry, solidfying what could look like the ricochet of blood and sinew from a re-smashed open wound, or the after birth from a womans womb, depending on the viewers own history.

This show is titled “The Wieght of Meaninglessness”
Q: Does this mean nothing to you?

A: Yes it means something, something - that I can’t explain, something beyond words.  It’s these meaningless moments that we experience within our selves that I want to put significance on.

Q: What does the exhibitions name mean in relation to your work?

A: The exhibitions name suggests there’s a fluid space that we all experience internally, momentarily, as a loss of consciousness -  where there is no meaning. The work refers to those abject, anxiety ridden and also those pleasurable moments when we realise our bodies are not what we want them to be and when we have escaped ourselves. Actually we’re not fixed. We can’t put words to these moments and so they remain meaningless and unacknowledged.

Your work is presented in varying ways, sometimes on a wall like a standard painting, othertimes you have stacked the canvasses, or added background elements – such as protection plastic.

Q: Why have you presented your work in such an unconvential way?

 A: I presented them in a way to define this fluid, private, unconscious space within ourselves a bit like acknowledging a black hole through the stars and gasses orbiting it. I hope it puts light on ideas of meaninglessness and fluidity without fixing and closing this space.

The exhibition presents 2 suits of work, 1 used very organic colours materials and makes obvious reference to the human body, or that of a mammel.

The other colour is purple, whitch takes the work outside of the body and moves it into a more toxic rhelm.
Q: Was was your intention behind using the colour purple?

A: My intention was for the purple to suggest a desire, a want, and also a lacking and a need for more. They use it with royalty. It suggests a melancholy to me, like I can’t hold it and a little bit unbelievable.

The gallery states on its website “This exhibition looks at what lies behind our existence, and behind our desires in the search for the other place beyond.”

Q: Let’s examine this. What are your desires?

 A: To be clean and proper, to be complete, that’s fundamentally everyone’s desires isn’t it?

Some of your more humanily viseral works have had sections picked away. Once dry, you’ve applied a photoshop-like eraser mark, which cuts through what I’d imagine to be the most intense part of the thrown paint. This gives some relief to the work. A space of contemplation of sorts.

Q: When did you start bringing your works into photoshop, and how do you use it in relation to finishing your paintings?

A: I started using Photoshop 20 years ago. But with these works, I’ve used it almost blatently - as you say I use it to remove the completion of the impact, the raw climax of the thrown paint. I make associations between the digital and our desire for cleansing, to fix our fluid bodies, to be complete, our need to remove ourselves from ourselves. Like you say it’s the Photoshop marks that provide the relief from the rawness, and exposes the void, the unconscious. I use it to put light on the ‘meaningless’ that lies behind.


What: The Weight of Meaninglessness

Where: 37 Scanlan Street, Grey Lynn

On until: 16th September

More info:

To see our studio visit with Rebecca, please click on video below.

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About Rebecca



  • Born: 1964, UK
  • Lives: Auckland, NZ
  • Education: Masters Degree in Visual Arts from Goldsmiths College, London, 1995

Recent SOLO Exhibitions

  • 'On The Weight Of Meaninglessness', Grey, Auckland, NZ, 2017
  • 'The Otherness of Ourselves', Zimmerman Contemporary, NZ , 2017
  • 'From Scratchings', Zimmerman Contemporary, NZ, 2016
  • Zimmerman Contemporary, Manawatu, NZ, 2015


  •  'In The Neighbourhood', Grey, Auckland, NZ, 2017
  • 'Show', Ramp Gallery, curated by Ed Hanfling, NZ, 2016
  • 'Garden Party' - Seed Gallery's 10th Anniversary, Auckland, NZ, 2016
  • 'Artists in Taiwan', Asia Contemporary, HK, 2016

Click here to see more!


Rebecca Wallis was born in the UK, she has lived and practised between London and Auckland since finishing her first degree in Fine Arts in 1988. Her art practice was cemented in 1995 with a Masters Degree in Visual Arts from Goldsmiths College, London. 

Wallis provokes, using the abject, the allusive experiences of the Real. She makes associations between the corporeal and the painterly, to reveal the 'beyond, behind and beneath'. Her recent methods characteristically involve simple and unconventional gestures, where she refers to herself as a conduit for the interaction between materials. 

In her work Wallis often exhibits a slipping away and a resisting of containment, referring to the allusive experience of this understanding, outside that of language, informed by the theories of Kristeva. Rebecca’s paintings are held in a number of important national art collections, including the James Wallace Arts Trust and the Walker & Hall collection.