Sally Payen

‘The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.’ (Virginia Woolf, ‘An Unwritten Novel’ 1921)

Virgina Woolf’s words could have been written for Sally Payen’s new paintings. The large-scale canvases
that initially appear to belong to the categories of colour-field painting or geometric abstraction (such is
the deliberate flatness of their surfaces and the recurring motif of the grid), refuse to yield all life to the
void and instead throw up a strange melange of barely perceptible silhouettes of soldiers, suited figures,
wild horses and the delicate traces of skeletal cages. There is no Euclidian geometry or perspective in
Payen’s work to anchor these troubling forms and yet, as with a dream when we know instinctively what
is up, and what is down, there is a logic to Payen’s work that goes beyond the learned formulae of western
art and looks instead to a language of forms and symbols that predates the so-called ‘cradle of civilisation’
(such as can be found in cave painting from the Upper Palaeolithic period); a language that we understand
and relate to in both our conscious state, and in our dreams.