Blink and you’ve missed it. In the twinkling of an eye, this mayfly of a group show has already gone. In keeping with its title, however, its resonance lingers, the after-effects of its expertly crafted pieces charged with their potential.

Bringing together the work of three students in the final year of their Master of Fine Arts degree at Manchester School of Art, Resonance threads the paintings of Kimberley Beesley, Rachel Clancy and Georgina Hustler over Saan1‘s three floors, affording them the space to play off one another, reflecting their similarities and disparities. Beyond the shared strength of their respective techniques, and a tendency towards the allusive in their compositions, each has developed a distinctive voice, imbuing their canvases with the isotopes of emotion whose half-lives outlast their surface accuracy.

Photographed by Georgina Hustler, Title: Boy with Red Stripe.

Clancy, for her part, is represented by a series of untrustworthy interiors. Vacated by their occupants, their absences set the stage for disquiet. In Parallel, for instance, the subtle asymmetries which belie the painting’s title – an unidentified material draped with abandon over a mirror, the wrinkle in the otherwise impeccable carpet, the non-colour-matched armchairs which flank the scene – enhance a sense of unease as to what presence the carelessly opened doors, seen through the looking glass, might allow access over the room’s porous threshold. In setting a crystal ball as its focus, Domestic Mirage, which provides the group show with its flyer image, is perhaps more emphatic in its insistence that Clancy’s scenes require a cold reading, placing the viewer in the position of clairvoyant, scrying for deeper significance.

Beesley’s works dislocate from a different starting point. Often deriving from classical statuary, they pull off the difficult trick of allowing the antique to be seen afresh. Trim, for example, seems to shift form, like Max Ernst in reverse; the marble original appearing at one moment fungal, at another human. Likewise, the drapes of Cloth are as much forms imagined in decaying limestone as the solidity of something sculpted with intention.

Hustler, like Beesley, roots her works in older traditions, and, like Clancy, calls upon the trappings of divination to underpin her images. The layers of allusion permeate one another, their weight increasing their gravity in a way that still lets in the light. It’s an approach which reverberates through the pulse of The Hierophant. Referencing the Tarot card of that name, at its centre is its secular modern counterpart, a female DJ, her timelessness emphasised by the use of an illuminated script along with decorative, gem-like flourishes whose morphology echoes the settings on her turntables. Both modern and ancient are rendered according to the conventions of their time, with the exactitude that all three artists hold in common.

Photographed by Kimberley Beesley, Title: Cloth.

Taken as a whole, these are works which quietly insist against the flash and swipe of Instagram; a connection that Hustler makes explicit in her Ace Of Cups. Painted on linen, its subject, necking down a pint, could be a Snapchat moment from a messy night, caught by camera phone, sent and just as soon deleted. Its form, however, argues against such disposability, even as its unfinished quality, fraying at the edges, attends to the century’s velocity. Like the forms which inform them, the traditions and antiquities, the paintings in Resonance stake their own claim to permanence.

By Desmond Bullen

Main image: Photographed by Rachel Clancy, Title: Domestic Mirage.