thick mud slowly oozing

anousha payne

thick mud slowly oozing

Anousha Payne

September 18—November 20, 2022


“Take it, take all this for yourself. I don’t want to be a living person! I’m disgusted and amazed by myself, thick mud slowly oozing. That’s what it was, so that’s what it was. Because I’d looked at the living roach and was discovering inside it the identity of my deepest life. In a difficult demolition, hard and narrow paths were opening within me. I looked at it, at the roach: I hated it so much I was going over to its side, feeling solidarity with it, since I couldn’t stand being left alone with my aggression. And all of a sudden I moaned out loud, this time I heard my moan. Because rising to my surface like pus was my truest matter—and with fright and loathing I was feeling that ‘I-being’ was coming from a source far prior to the human source and, with horror, much greater than the human.” — Clarice Lispector, ‘The Passion According to G.H.’

Stellarhighway is pleased to present 'thick mud slowly oozing,' London-based artist Anousha Payne’s first solo exhibition in the US. The show borrows its title from The Passion According to G.H., a novel by Clarice Lispector about a Rio-based sculptor whose encounter with a cockroach brings about an existential re-evaluation as she begins to question her purpose and place in the universe. 'thick mud slowly oozing' continues Payne’s investigation into the boundaries between lived experiences, fiction and myth. Her work often centers on characters from Indian folklore who display transformative qualities, playing on ideas of chance, moral dilemma, magic, animism and the performative powers of objects.

In a shift from Payne’s usual subject, this exhibition brings together a series of quasi self portraits made in reference to the Iron Age Celtic sculpture the Corleck Head, a tricephalic stone head dating to the first or second century CE. Each of the three simply carved faces bears an enigmatic expression that hints at the union of past, present and future, and of seeing all ways at once. With this new body of work Payne implants a version of herself as protagonist, personally journeying through her experiences, dreams and local histories to forge new folklores and narratives. “These paintings are a reminder of the reality outside of human life; the bee, the dog, the ant…they are linked to but larger than us, ecologically but also in terms of their origins on Earth.”