If it's true that writing about art can only ever aspire to be another artwork—at best an essay can 'speak' to artworks like these paintings here seem to be whispering to each other—then an intimate knowledge of the artist's life can cast concentric circles into the air. Art brought Loribelle and I together; we bonded over it from the very beginning. Yet words always feel like dummy rounds when it comes to this kind of thing. So the best I can do is try and say something about the artist, my spouse, rather than a paltry exegesis of 'themes' or techniques.
This has been, for Loribelle, the hardest time in her life. The facts themselves are plain but do very little to explain the story of how all her paintings, the ones you see right now, came to life. She has been injured for two years, afflicted with a chronic condition causing numbness of her arms and hands. As well as this we moved house twice, during an unprecedented international health emergency—a struggle for any couple, no matter how resilient or introverted—and we both changed as people.
As a result of all this and more, Loribelle became blocked artistically. It's all very well to look at the great artists throughout history and take some comfort in the fact that if they struggled then we can too. But Tolstoy said it best: 'All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Loribelle's block was infused with its own oppressive 'shape'. It was its own creature. It couldn't be countered with logical argument, or endless rumination. It just had, like a growing pain, to be endured. But it also related to the world at large. Now more than ever artists need a 'style' - not as an expression of some vital human impulse but as a way of signalling to a sensation-driven market how one can be 'consumed.' And one can be as pure an artist as one likes, but it's very hard to escape the world in which one lives, driven as it is by forces antithetical to the wellspring from which art is born.
Loribelle is, like so many artists, overwhelmed by what came before her, the masterworks of the past, which these days can be accessed with the flick of a finger. In an age in which our memory seems barely to outlast a TikTok reel, someone who valorises tradition, not just fifty years ago but five hundred, is someone who has the capacity to touch the horizon. Painting isn't dead or on life support, it's blooming with health. To paraphrase critic Harold Bloom about writers, the great painters of the past in some ways feel more alive than we are.
But what we don't generally see are the moments of boredom, of despair, of lost sleep, of sitting on the toilet with one's heads in one's hands, of rampant failures and missed opportunities. Rather, growth often takes place in a series of fits and starts, intermediated by periods of statis and doubt. But these long, moments 'in between' are really hours, days, months and even years of gathering, cultivating, planting and conserving in preparation for what will hopefully end up a bountiful, golden harvest. Forget religion: in terms of raw faith there is nothing quite like being an artist.
'What is your niche?' I was asked so many times as a musician. Loribelle is chameleonic, protean, labile; where she ends and her paintings begin is not so easily settled, and so she is able to turn her hand to so many different things. But I think that this is something to celebrate, not lament. My niche is music. Hers is art. Her 'style' is restless, constantly sloughing its skin, dissatisfied to remain rooted in one tendency or mode. Her changes of style—and I tell her this all the time—are not gestures of empty renunciation but rediscovery and reorientation, an attempt to achieve what is both aspirational and impossible, that which transcends technique or 'concept'—what we are all striving for, which is complete freedom.
A traditional definition of Pentimento means that an existing painting contains traces of an older painting beneath. However Loribelle chose this word with a subtle difference: to reflect that many of these paintings started one way and ended up another. The word not only denotes her practise but the important transitional nature of this show. If you are familiar with her paintings over the past eight years you will know that at first she experimented with photorealist techniques, followed by realism, abstract realism, surrealism and then most recently a type of visual language that encompasses all of these, a sort of geometry of antiquated hypermodernity populated by faceless figures that suggest a pixelated world, odd floating objects and desolate landscapes (and it should be remembered that Loribelle grew up concurrently with the birth of the internet.)
But for me, Pedimento also has another meaning, that of pediment, a gable above a doorway, leading to a new world. It is a threshold, a leap of faith into potentially solid ground or empty air—either is acceptable—of a young artist as she prepares to enter the beginning of the middle of her career.
By Simon Tedeschi, 2023
Born in Manila in 1990, Loribelle Spirovski emigrated to Australia in 1999. She graduated from the College of Fine Arts, UNSW, in 2012, and has been working as a professional artist since 2014. She has exhibited across Australia, USA, UK and Europe, and her work appears in private and public collections across the world. She is the winner of the 'Naked and Nude Art Prize' (Manning Regional Art Gallery), the 2021 Bluethumb Art Prize and is a three-time finalist of the Archibald Prize. She has collaborated across various fields including Swedish fashion brand Limitato, Patos wine, Sinbono handbags, and the album covers of musical artists including, Methyl Ethel, Sondre Lerche, and her husband, pianist Simon Tedeschi. In 2021, her work was featured in a major public art installation in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. She lives and
works in Sydney, Australia.