The paintings of the British artist, Melanie Young, balance carefully between figuration and abstraction. Although the figure is a constant presence in this artist’s work, it often serves a lyrical, expressive purpose, rather than a strictly representational one. The figure is usually a stand-in for the artist as she responds to various situations and challenges.
Young states that for her painting is an exploration of memory, both recent and distant. Indeed, working in layers that can be added and scraped away at will, she reveals the work of memory, which is also always in flux. This artistic process also acts as a catalyst that helps her effectuate memory. In other words, painting aids in the process of remembrance. While in the past Young’s paintings have addressed familial and domestic situations, she is now drawn to more universal, ritual themes. Recent paintings like The Keeper of Secrets, Growing Pains, or Mrs. Dalloway represent the female figure as monumental and even primal in their emotive immediacy. As feminine archetypes, such as the Mother, the Queen, the Lover, etc., appear in her recent work, the familial becomes the universal.