The Times Australia

The Times

Magazine

Abstract blues and cute otters – the unlikely art of Aussie love


Online dating site eharmony asked 12 regular Australians to paint what love and compatibility looked like, with a view to understanding if stereotypical symbols of love were still relevant, or if they varied greatly across ages and walks of life.

While hearts, pink and red symbolise love to most Aussies; so do abstract blue splotches, flowers and rainbows. Animals such as bees and otters also found their way into the collection, evoking strong ties to nature and non-romantic love and compatibility.  

The collection called Painting Love – includes art from Bachelor heartthrob Konrad Bien-Stephen, artistic TikToker Shelby Sherrit, and three-time Olympian Belle Brockoff.

The group, ranging in age, background, and sexual orientation, all took different approaches to the task – showcasing the different views on ‘real love’ and the unique perspective of each individual. Guided by Melbourne-based abstract artist Kirsten Jackson, they each submitted a piece.

Kirsten said she enjoyed seeing the various art forms and styles, and it showed a broad range of interpretation of the subject.

“We know that love can take many forms, and when it comes to art, what someone sees in a piece of art, can be different to what others take away from the same canvas,” Kirsten said.

“When I paint my abstract pieces, what’s most important is that I feel love and happiness, as I find these feelings channel through to the person viewing the piece. This is the advice I gave our everyday artists for the exhibition – to channel love and compatibility when they approach the canvas.

“I was also incredibly interested in the colours used by the participants. We all know the pinks and the reds when it comes to love, but the prominence of blues, which can traditionally represent belonging, and green, which can signify self-esteem, were welcome surprises. Ultimately, a colour’s meaning is in the eye of the beholder and of the artist.”
 
To symbolise love and compatibility, features such as the typical hearts and combinations of pink and red understandably appeared in many of the works. However, strong blues featured in a number of the pieces, while trees and even flowers also appear in many of the artistic takes.

eharmony psychologist Sharon Draper said that people were moving away from traditional symbols of love.

“When thinking about what ‘love’ looks like, many of us have been culturally conditioned to think of symbols such as love hearts, kisses and weddings. But some of the things that people painted as symbolic are a little less obvious,” Sharon said.

“Flowers for example can represent the happiness and abundance that love brings us, while trees are often associated with strength and longevity, and for some may symbolise fertility.

“Interestingly enough, animals also featured in the pieces contributed to the exhibition. Depending on the type of animal included, it can add a different meaning to the piece. Bees were featured, which may symbolise community and group strength, while an otter may symbolise unconditional positive regard, cuddles and loyalty.”
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