Fionn Wilson

On Venus loves the moon by painter Fionn Wilson

Looking at Fionn Wilson's Venus loves the moon I am once again borderline annoyed that I wasn't the one who came up with the term that so beautifully – and like a whisper, only – hints at what characterises her work, 'spectral'. Despite its apparent simplicity, to me this particular painting sums up much of what Fionn Wilson's painting is about. It is about dragging motifs out of the dark and giving them life as light. They often have a kind of ethereal quality to them – spectral and slightly otherworldly. This is perhaps most obvious in her landscapes and in her swan paintings. It is emphatically not that she sets out to paint anything else than what is actually there, the real; but there is something in her vision as an artist that makes her paintings stand out with this sort of Claude glass dark shine.

Fionn Wilson is brilliant at using black, and she is brilliant at darkness. It is a difficult and a delicate thing to do, to make dark motifs work, and it requires a great sensitivity. Fionn Wilson has that. Venus loves the moon is a superior example of how little you actually need in a painting, if only you know what you're doing, and if you have the required technical skill. Both Venus and the moon have been recurring themes in Wilson's work from her very earliest paintings: A Gift under an Orange Moon, Lunar eclipse in the Sinai desert 2004, The flats where I live at night, and the Venus nudes, just to name some of them. In Venus loves the moon they come together like lovers in a mystery play, with the seven trees underneath as a Greek chorus witnessing the event. In Self portrait with night blooming jasmine inspired by a visit to Crete, the flowers shine like moonlight. The early painting Starman points to the fact that the cosmic element has been there all along. Stars as light out of the dark.

Venus loves the moon

Starman, Self portrait with night blooming jasmine, and Sphinx

Both Venus and the moon come to us weighed with mythology and deep meanings. Fionn Wilson has no need to elaborate on any of that, for her painting has its own depth that allows them to be and to meet in silence. It's what it would look like, quite simply, if you went out there and looked at the sky – but also, at the same time there is nothing simple about it. The more you look at it, the more you get the feeling that there is something going on there, a secret you are being invited to learn. The painting turns into a sphinx, challenging the viewer. As with the spectral, the sphinx has been a constant element in Wilson's work. Her portraits are questioning us, sometimes even taunting us; they show us people who are not easily explained.

To me, Venus loves the moon is almost like a meta-painting. It is a painting reflecting – as in a dark mirror – Fionn Wilson's work up until now, poetically summing it up and taking it even further. It is an important painting in the oeuvre, and an exquisitely beautiful one.

Bo Gorzelak Pedersen,
Art critic for the Danish art paper Kunstavisen