Sonia Shiel’s work is vested in fictional and non-fictional narratives that are illustrated through painting, video and animated sculptures, the works are inherently painterly and explore the materiality of paint. The exhibited works serve as storyboards where the singular image becomes indicative of a larger story. Pitching base, human aspirations to survive against their odds, idyllic scenes of industry, nature and society are underscored with the preposterous violence, inflated caricature and infatiguable resilience of cartoons. Set in ungoverned, fictional or lawless environments; the wild west; the high seas; the animal kingdom and so on – Shiel’s protagonists in their various well intentioned pursuits, are confronted by nature, mortality, chance and systemic obstacles of their own creation.
Much of Shiel’s work has been influenced by various traditions of storytelling. Misadventure Seeks Rainy Afternoon sees the introduction of legal narratives into her practice, the questioning of human ethics and how law creates a code that determines what is moral and immoral are subjects that are brought to the fore. Following its often perverted course, a series of painted works draw on the impotency of justice against the natural world. We have an innate ability to make moral assessments when faced with certain situations, Shiel’s works posits scenario’s where we make evaluative judgements becoming at once both judge and jury based on our own established moral code. The misadventure is to allow for only one reading or outcome.