Can you remember the last time you had the stuffing knocked out of you? When something or someone catches you with sharp blow in the solar plexus and, for a few horrible seconds at least, you can no longer draw breath into your lungs, your legs give way, and you collapse to the floor, gulping for air like a fish out of water.
Usually it’s a physical reaction to a physical trauma — a sucker punch from someone in the school corridor, or copping a ball in the midriff from point-blank range on the sports field. Sometimes, however, a memory can trigger a similar response, more emotionally debilitating than physically, perhaps, but with the same forceful capacity to bring us to our knees.
Monica Cook and Jean-Pierre Roy meditate on the visceral power of memory in their joint show Knock the Wind. Roy’s graphite on paper works see his protagonist felled, disorientated and confused by an obfuscating mental barrier, stumbling and crashing through the landscape as a giant, or perhaps as a grown-up child revisiting the environments of his youthful imagination. Cook, in contrast, operates in close-up or in miniature. Her gouache and watercolour works are alive with joy and playfulness, depicting fantasy scenes full of cavorting nymphs and magical enchantment.
Knock the Wind is on show at Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen, until 12 September.