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Managing reality



Julie Fragar


1977 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on board
    70.0 x 90.0 cm
    Purchased with funds provided by the Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2021
    Accession number
    © Julie Fragar

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Julie Fragar

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Julie Fragar makes paintings about the human experience. Working within the realist tradition, Fragar’s intricately layered and frequently autobiographical paintings are often sparked by a photographic image. In her more recent practice, Fragar’s palette has shifted to a predominantly monochromatic one tinged with hues of vivid pink. The feeling of these recent paintings has shifted too – they are driven less by image reference points and instead are more focused on psychological affect. ‘I used to start with an image/photograph. Now I start with what the whole situation feels like and make a drawing that has that feeling. The more concrete imagery comes later.’

    In her 2021 body of work Wash your face in cold water, from which the proposed purchase derives, Fragar embraces water as subject, exploring our relationship and reliance upon this life-sustaining element. Anchored in the domestic space, this suite of photo-real yet dream-like scenes chronicle commonplace subjects such as a wet cat, washing and waterpipes. The prosaic nature of these subjects is swiftly upended, for they become characters in surreal compositions. The umbrella shelters a figure from a downpour of indoor rain while the pipes morph into a plumbing pastiche, comically arranged into an unending tangle of quick patch jobs barely able to contain spurting water. There is a deeply unsettling and uncanny quality to this body of work, as if the motif of water serves as a conduit for stories of pressure and endurance.

    Within this framework, it is the pipe work, Managing reality, that demonstrates a particular urgency of expression. The labyrinthine assemblage of haphazardly interconnected waterpipes are desperately trying to redirect and retain control over water but to no avail. The slippery substance spurts forth, sprays and splutters as the pipes lose their hold. The compromised pipes could be read as a metaphor for the state of many peoples’ lives over the last eighteen months during the upheaval of Covid-19. Just surviving, just trying to manage reality, enduring the pressure and living day by day during unheard-of times.

Other works by Julie Fragar

See all 8 works