Archive for October, 2009

26
Oct
09

Review: ‘Long Distance Vision: Three Australian Photographers’ at The Ian Potter Centre NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th August – 21st February 2010

 

Max Pam. 'Road from Bamiyan' 1971

 

Max Pam (born Australia 1949, lived in Brunei 1980-83)
Road from Bamiyan
1971
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 x 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979

 

 

Long Distance Vision is a disappointingly wane exploration of travel photography at NGV Australia. With the exception of the work of Max Pam the exhibition lacks insight into the phenomena that the curators want the work to philosophically investigate: namely how photographs shape our expectations of a place (even before we arrive) and how photographs also serve to confirm our experience – the picture as powerful mnemonic tool.

Firstly a quick story: when travelling in America to study at the Kinsey Institute I boarded a train from Chicago to what I thought was Bloomington, Indiana only to arrive many hours later at Bloomington, Illinois. Unbeknownst to me this Bloomington also had a motel of the same name as I was staying at in Indiana! After much confusion I ended up at the local airport trying to catch a single seater aircraft to Bloomington, Indiana with no luck – at the end of my tether, fearful in a foreign country, in tears because I just had to be at this appointment the next morning. Riding to my rescue was a nineteen year old kid with no shoes, driving an ex-cop car, who drove me across the Mid-West states stopping at petrol stops in the dead of night. It was a surreal experience, one that I will never forget for the rest of my life … fear, apprehension, alienation, happiness, joy and the sublime all rolled into one.

I tell this story to illustrate a point about travel – that you never know what is going to happen, what experiences you will have, even your final destination. To me, photographs of these adventures not only document this dislocation but step beyond pure representation to become art that re-presents the nature of our existence.

 

Matthew Sleeth‘s street photographs could be taken almost anywhere in the world (if it were not for a building with German writing on it). His snapshot aesthetic of caught moments, blinded people and dissected bodies in the observed landscape are evinced (to show in a clear manner; to prove beyond any reasonable doubt; to manifest; to make evident; to bring to light; to evidence – yes to bring to light, to evidence as photography does!) in mundane, dull, almost lifeless prints – ‘heavy’ photographs with a lack of shadow detail combined with a shallow depth of field. His remains, the people walking down the street and their shadow, are odd but as as The Age art critic Robert Nelson succinctly notes in his review of this exhibition, “To become art, the odd cannot remain merely quaint but has to signify an existential anomaly by implication.”1

If we look at the seminal photographs from the book The Americans by Robert Frank we see in their dislocated view of America a foreigners view of the country the artist was travelling across – a subjective view of America that reveals as much about the state of mind of the artist as the country he was exposing. No such exposition happens in the works of Matthew Sleeth.

Christine Godden‘s photographs of family and friends have little to do with travel photography and I struggle to understand their inclusion in this exhibition. Though they are reasonable enough photographs in their own right – small black and white photographs of small intimacies (at the beach, in the garden, at the kitchen table, on the phone, on the porch, on the float, etc…) Godden’s anthropomorphist bodies have nothing to do with a vision of a new land as she had been living in San Francisco, New York and Rochester for six years over the period that these photographs were taken. Enough said.

The highlight of the exhibition is the work of Max Pam. I remember going the National Gallery of Victoria in the late 1980s to view this series of work in the collection – and what a revelation they were then and remain so today. The square formatted, dark sepia toned silver gelatin prints of the people and landscapes of Tibet are both monumental and personal at one and the same time. You are drawn into their intimacies: the punctum of a boys feet; the gathering of families; camels running before a windstorm; human beings as specks in a vast landscape.

“If the world is unfair or beyond our understanding, sublime places suggest it is not surprising things should be thus. We are the playthings of the forces that laid out the oceans and chiselled the mountains. Sublime places acknowledge limitations that we might otherwise encounter with anxiety or anger in the ordinary flow of events. It is not just nature that defies us. Human life is as overwhelming, but it is the vast spaces of nature that perhaps provide us with the finest, the most respectful reminder of all that exceeds us. If we spend time with them, they may help us to accept more graciously the great unfathomable events that molest our lives and will inevitably return us to dust.”2

The meditation on place and space that the artist has undertaken gives true insight into the connection of man and earth, coming closest to Alain de Botton’s understanding of the significance of sublime places. Through a vision of a distant land the photographs transport us in an emotional journey that furthers our understanding of the fragility of life both of the planet and of ourselves.

 

While the National Gallery of Victoria holds some excellent photography exhibitions (such as Andreas Gursky and Rennie Ellis for example) this was a missed opportunity. The interesting concept of the exhibition required a more rigorous investigation instead of such a cursory analysis (which can be evidenced by the catalogue ‘essay’: one page the size of a quarter of an A4 piece of paper that glosses over the whole history of travel photography in a few blithe sentences).

Inspiration could have easily been found in Alain de Botton’s excellent book The Art of Travel. Here we find chapters titled “On Anticipation”, “On Travelling Places”, “On the Exotic”, “On Curiosity”, “On the Country and the City” and “On the Sublime” to name but a few, with places and art work to illustrate the journey: what more is needed to excite the mind!

Take Charles Baudelaire for example. He travelled outside his native France only once and never ventured abroad again. Baudelaire still dreamt of going to Lisbon, or Java or to the Netherlands but “the destination was not really the point. The true desire was to get away, to go, as he concluded, ‘Anywhere! Anywhere! So long as it is out of the world!'”3

Heavens, we don’t even have to leave home to create travel photography that is out of the world! Our far-sighted vision (like that of photographer Gregory Crewdson) can create psychological narratives of imaginative journeys played out for the camera.

Perhaps what was needed was a longer gestation period, further research into the theoretical nuances of travel photography (one a little death, a remembrance; both a dislocation in the non-linearity of time and space), a gathering of photographs from collections around Australia to better evidence the conceptual basis for the exhibition and a greater understanding of the irregular possibilities of travel photography – so that the work and words could truly reflect the title of the exhibition Long Distance Vision.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

  1. Nelson, Robert. “In blurred focus: le freak c’est chic,” in The Age newspaper. Friday, October 23rd 2009, p. 18
  2. de Botton, Alain. The Art of Travel. London: Penguin, 2002, p. 178-179
  3. Ibid., p. 34

 

Max Pam (born Australia 1949, lived in Brunei 1980-83) 'My donkey, our valley, Sarchu' 1977

 

Max Pam (born Australia 1949, lived in Brunei 1980-83)
My donkey, our valley, Sarchu
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 x 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Sisters' 1977

 

Max Pam (born Australia 1949, lived in Brunei 1980-83)
Sisters
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 x 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Tibetan nomads' 1977

 

Max Pam (born Australia 1949, lived in Brunei 1980-83)
Tibetan nomads
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 x 20.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Christine Godden. 'Bobbie and Amitabha at the beach' (c. 1972)

 

Christine Godden (born Australia 1947)
Bobbie and Amitabha at the beach
c. 1972
Gelatin silver photograph
13.2 x 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1991
© Christine Godden

 

Christine Godden. 'Elliot holding a ring' 1973

 

Christine Godden (born Australia 1947)
Elliot holding a ring
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
15.0 x 22.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1991
© Christine Godden

 

Christine Godden. 'Joanie at the kitchen table' 1973

 

Christine Godden (born Australia 1947)
Joanie at the kitchen table
1973, printed 1986
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 x 30.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1991
© Christine Godden

 

Christine Godden. 'With Leigh on the porch' 1972

 

Christine Godden (born Australia 1947)
With Leigh on the porch
1972, printed 1986
Gelatin silver photograph
20.2 x 30.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1991
© Christine Godden

 

 

“The National Gallery of Victoria will celebrate the work of Christine Godden, Max Pam and Matthew Sleeth in a new exhibition, Long Distance Vision: Three Australian Photographers opening 28 August.

Long Distance Vision will include over 60 photographs from the NGV Collection exploring the concept of the ‘tourist gaze’ and its relationship with the three artists.

Susan van Wyk, Curator Photography, NGV said the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the unusual perspective brought by the three photographers to their varied world travel destinations.

“There’s a sense in the works in the exhibition that the photographers are not from the places they choose to photograph, and that each is a visitor delighting in the scenes they encounter.

“What is notable about the photographs in ‘Long Distance Vision’ is that rather than focussing on the well known scenes that each artist encountered, they have turned their attention to the ‘little things’, the details of the everyday,” said Ms van Wyk.

From the nineteenth century, photography has been a means by which people could discover the world, initially through personal collection and albums, and later via postcards, magazines, books and the internet.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said that both contemporary photographers and tourists use the camera as a means to explore and capture the world.

“Through their photographs, the three artists featured in ‘Long Distance Vision’ show us highly individual ways of seeing the world. This exhibition will surprise and delight visitors as our attention is drawn to not only what is different but what remains the same as we travel the world,” said Dr Vaughan.

 

Born in Melbourne in 1949, Max Pam began his career in various commercial photography studios in the 1960s. After responding to a university notice for assistance to drive a Volkswagen from Calcutta to London in 1969, Pam got his first taste of being a traveller. The body of Pam’s work in this exhibition is from the series The Himalayas, which was photographed over a number of early visits to India.

Christine Godden also travelled the popular overland route between Europe and India in the early 1970s, returning to Sydney in 1978. In 1972, after a period of travelling, Godden found her home in the US where she remained for six years. Godden’s photographs in this exhibition were taken between 1972 and 1974 during her stay in the US.

Born in Melbourne in 1972, Matthew Sleeth is another seasoned traveller. During the late 1990s, Sleeth settled in Opfikon, an outer suburb of Zurich, Switzerland. The series of photographs in Long Distance Vision were taken during this time, showing Sleeth’s interest not only in street photography, but also in the narrative possibilities in everyday scenes. Dotted with garishly coloured playhouses, naive sculptures and whimsical arrangements of garden gnomes Sleeth’s photographs go beyond the ‘picture-perfect’ scenes of typical tourist photography.

Long Distance Vision: Three Australian Photographers is on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square from 28 August 2009 to 21 February 2010.”

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria press release

 

Matthw Sleeth from the series 'Opfikon' 1997

Matthw Sleeth from the series 'Opfikon' 1997

Matthw Sleeth from the series 'Opfikon' 1997

Matthw Sleeth from the series 'Opfikon' 1997

Matthw Sleeth from the series 'Opfikon' 1997

 

Matthew Sleeth (born Australia 1972)
Photographs from the series Opfikon
1997, printed 2004
Type C photograph
43.2 x 43.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through the NGV Foundation by Patrick Corrigan, Governor, 2005
© Matthew Sleeth courtesy of Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
Every day 10 am – 5 pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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23
Oct
09

Exhibition: ‘William Christenberry: Photographs, 1961-2005’ at the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia

Exhibition dates: 12th September – 8th November 2009

 

Many thankx to the Morris Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

William Christenberry. 'Green Warehouse, Newbern, Alabama' 1997

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Green Warehouse, Newbern, Alabama
1997

 

 

“Widely recognised as a pioneer in the field of colour photography, William Christenberry has used this expressive medium to explore the American South for forty years. While pursuing this artistic quest he has drawn inspiration from Walker Evans, and influenced a generation of emerging photographers. William Christenberry: Photographs, 1961 – 2005 surveys his poetic documentation of southern vernacular architecture, signage, and landscape using a wide range of cameras, from his earliest Brownie photographs of the early 1960s to his later work with a large-format camera. Combining never-before-seen photographs, both old and new, with images that are now iconic, this exhibition comprises fifty vintage photographic works and one sculpture. Together, they convey the breadth of his singular photographic vision. Discuss the artistic objectives of his long-term interpretation of the Southern landscape with Michelle Norris of National Public Radio, Christenberry explained: “What I really feel very strongly about, and I hope reflects in all aspects of my work, is the human touch, the humanness of things, the positive and sometimes the negative and sometimes the sad.”

Text from the Morris Musem of Art website [Online] Cited 15/10/2009 no longer available online

 

William Christenberry. 'House and Car, near Akron, Alabama' 1981

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
House and Car, near Akron, Alabama
1981

 

William Christenberry. 'T.B. Hick's Store, Newbern, Alabama' 1976

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
T.B. Hick’s Store, Newbern, Alabama
1976

 

William Christenberry. 'Kudzu with Storm Cloud, near Akron, Alabama' 1981

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Kudzu with Storm Cloud, near Akron, Alabama
1981

 

 

“William Christenberry Photographs, 1961 – 2005, a phenomenal retrospective exhibition of Christenberry’s photographs, opens to the public at the Morris Museum of Art on September 16, 2009. The Morris Museum is the only Georgia venue hosting this exhibition.

“‘William Christenberry Photographs, 1961 – 2005’ is an overview of the career of one of the South’s most important living artists,” said Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Museum of Art. “Organised by the Aperture Foundation, this exhibition brings to Augusta a body of work like no other. No one has so scrupulously and attentively captured a sense of place and time in quite the way that Bill Christenberry has. He is a remarkable artist, as is proven by this extraordinary body of work. He is America’s Proust.”

Since the early 1960s, William Christenberry has plumbed the regional identity of the American South, focusing his attention primarily on his childhood home, Hale County, Alabama. Widely recognised as a pioneer in the field of colour photography, Christenberry draws inspiration from the work of Walker Evans, while paralleling the work of such international practitioners as Bernd and Hilla Becher. Ranging from his earliest Brownie photographs to his later work with a large-format camera, William Christenberry Photographs, 1961 – 2005 is a survey of the artist’s poetic documentation of the Southern landscape and vernacular architecture that surrounded him as he grew up. The exhibition, coupling never-before-seen photographs with images that are now iconic, reveals how the history, the very story of place, is at the heart of Christenberry’s ongoing project. While the focus of his work is the American South, it touches on universal themes related to family, culture, nature, spirituality, memory, and ageing. Christenberry photographs real things in the real world – ramshackle buildings, weathered commercial signs, lonely back roads, rusted-out cars, whitewashed churches, decorated graves. Dutifully returning to photograph the same locations annually – the green barn, the palmist building, the Bar-B-Q Inn, among others – he has fulfilled a personal ritual and documented the physical changes wrought by every single year. Straddling past and present, Christenberry’s art suggests the gravity and power of the passage of time.

The exhibition is accompanied by a stunning monograph entitled William Christenberry, published by Aperture in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The book, a comprehensive survey, presents all aspects of the artist’s oeuvre as he intended it to be viewed and considered. More than half the work reproduced has not been previously published.”

Text from the press release on the Morris Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 15/10/2009 no longer available online

 

William Christenberry. 'Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama' 1977

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama
1977

 

William Christenberry. 'Sprott Church in Alabama' 1971

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Sprott Church in Alabama
1971

 

William Christenberry. 'Palmist Building, Havanna, Alabama' 1980

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Palmist Building, Havanna, Alabama
1980

 

William Christenberry. 'House and Car, near Akron, Alabama' 1978

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
House and Car, near Akron, Alabama
1978

 

William Christenberry. 'Rabbit Pen, near Moundville, Alabama' 1998

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Rabbit Pen, near Moundville, Alabama
1998

 

William Christenberry. 'Old House, near Akron, Alabama' 1964

 

William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016)
Old House, near Akron, Alabama
1964

 

 

Morris Museum of Art
1 Tenth Street
Augusta, Georgia 30901
Phone: 706-724-7501

Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday: 12 – 5.00pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays

Morris Museum of Art website

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20
Oct
09

Review: ‘October 2009’ jewellery by Carlier Makigawa at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: October 6th – October 31st 2009

 

Jewellery as art; is art

Brooches, objects

Robust/delicate

Holistic body of work

Affirmation of line and form

Simplicity/complexity of shapes

Span ______  (meta)physical

[Interior] exterior!

elemental | articulation

Volume ((( ))) form

&

arch-itecture

SPACE

beauty

……………………….

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Gallery Funaki for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Brooch' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Brooch
2009
Silver, paint

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Brooch' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Brooch
2009
Silver

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Brooch' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Brooch
2009
Silver

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Brooch 1a' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Brooch
2009
Silver

 

 

“A spiritual and private space. Ritual object, jewellery. Linear structures appear fragile and monumental to cradle the internal spirit. They appear to float in space, hovering, penetrating, a temporary existence. Nature is the reference, and the geometry of nature and architecture inform this world.”

.
Carlier Makigawa

 

 

Carlier Makigawa explores the parameters of small spaces in her new exhibition October 2009. Her spare, exacting constructions in silver wire have a monumentality that defies their scale and delicacy. Her new work consists of brooches and objects which move beyond the botanical inspiration of her earlier work to engage with more abstract notions of movement, compression and spatial manipulation.

Text from the Gallery Funaki website [Online] Cited 01/05/2019

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Object' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Object
2009
Silver

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Object' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Object
2009
Silver

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Brooch 1' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Brooch
2009
Silver

 

Carlier Makigawa. 'Geometric Neckpiece' 2009

 

Carlier Makigawa (Australian, b. 1952)
Neckpiece
2009
Silver

 

 

Gallery Funaki
4 Crossley St.,
Melbourne 3000
03 9662 9446

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday, 10.30am – 5pm
Saturday 12 – 4pm

Gallery Funaki website

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18
Oct
09

Exhibition: ‘The Abstracted Landscape’ at the Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 24th September – 14th November 2009

Exhibition artists: Peter Bialobrzeski, Stephane Couturier, DoDo Jin Ming, Toshio Shibata

 

Many thankx to Laurence Miller Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

DoDo Jin Ming. 'Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate I' 2002

 

DoDo Jin Ming (Chinese, b. 1955)
Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate I
2002

 

DoDo Jin Ming. 'Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate VIII' 2003

 

DoDo Jin Ming (Chinese, b. 1955)
Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate VIII
2003

 

DoDo Jin Ming. 'Free Element, Plate XXX' 2002

 

DoDo Jin Ming (Chinese, b. 1955)
Free Element, Plate XXX
2002

 

Stephane Couturier. 'Olympic Parkway No. 1' 2001

 

Stéphane Couturier (French, b. 1957)
Olympic Parkway No. 1
2001

 

Stephane Couturier. 'Proctor Valley No. 1' 2004

 

Stéphane Couturier (French, b. 1957)
Proctor Valley No. 1
2004

 

 

“Laurence Miller is pleased to present, as its opening show for the fall, The Abstracted Landscape, featuring the work of four midcareer international artists: Peter Bialobrzeski, from Hamburg; Stephane Couturier, from Paris; DoDo Jin Ming from Beijing and New York; and Toshio Shibata, from Tokyo.

These four photographers each translate the landscape into a poetic and abstract vision, utilising techniques and processes unique to photography to create scenes that remain sufficiently recognisable yet unobtainable through the naked eye. Peter Bialobrzeski, in his series Lost in Transition, photographs rapid urbanisation and industrialisation by taking very long exposures, which create other-worldly colours and lighting not visible to the naked eye. Stéphane Couturier embraces the camera’s monocularity in his series from Havana to flatten our normal reading of space and render totally ambiguous the walls of a decaying interior. DoDo Jin Ming, in her series Behind My Eyes, applies the technique of negative printing to render mysterious and foreboding fields of sunflowers. And Toshio Shibata wields his large view camera, with multiple tilts and swings, to look straight down the side of a dam, creating a vertigo-inducing viewpoint we would be unable (and perhaps unwilling) to see directly with our own eyes.

Abstraction in the landscape has a rich tradition within the history of photography. Felix Teynard’s Egyptian views from the mid-1850’s are wonderfully abstract, as are those of J.B. Greene and August Salzmann. Timothy O’Sullivan, Carlton Watkins and William Henry Jackson each made views of the American west from the 1806’s through the 1880’s, that were equally rich in detail and minimal in composition. In the 20th century there are many examples, from George Seeley to Paul Strand, through Moholy Nagy and the Bauhaus to Edward Weston’s glorious sand dunes.”

Text from the Laurence Miller Gallery website [Online] Cited 12/10/2009 no longer available online

 

Toshio Shibata. 'Kashima Town, Fukushima Prefecture' 1990

 

Toshio Shibata (Japanese, b. 1949)
Kashima Town, Fukushima Prefecture
1990

 

Toshio Shibata. 'Grand Coulee Dam, Douglas County, WA' 1996

 

Toshio Shibata (Japanese, b. 1949)
Grand Coulee Dam, Douglas County, WA
1996

 

Peter Bialobzeski. 'Transition # 33' 2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961)
Transition #33 from the series Lost in Transition
2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski. 'Transition # 20' 2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961)
Transition #20 from the series Lost in Transition
2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961) 'Transition #23' 2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961)
Transition #23 from the series Lost in Transition
2005

 

 

Laurence Miller Gallery
521 West 26th Street ​5th floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212.397.3930
Fax: (212) 397-3930

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 6.00pm
Saturday 11am – 6.00pm

Laurence Millery Gallery website

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15
Oct
09

Exhibition: ‘Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur’ at The Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 16th October 2009 – 28th February 2010

 

Media crowd at the Ricky Swallow exhibition 'The Bricoleur' at NGV Australia

 

Media crowd at the Ricky Swallow exhibition The Bricoleur at NGV Australia with Alex Baker, Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, NGV fourth from left with clasped hands.

 

 

Hot off the press straight to you here at Art Blart!

Photographs of the exhibition Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur at the National Gallery of Victoria Australia, Federation Square. The photographs are in the chronological order that I took them, walking through the three spaces of the exhibition. A spare, visually minimalist aesthetic to the show, where every vanitas, every mark (in)forms the work as transcendent momenti mori. Review to follow.

Many thankx to Sue, Alison, Jemma and the team for the usual excellent job and for allowing me to document the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“I’ve always been interested in how an object can be remembered and how that memory can be sustained and directed sculpturally, pulling things in and out of time, passing objects through the studio as a kind of filter returning them as new forms.”

.
Ricky Swallow

 

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974) 'The Bricoleur' 2006

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
The Bricoleur
2006
Jelutong
48 x 9.75 x 9.75 inches

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974) 'Unbroken Ways (for Derek Bailey)' 2006

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Unbroken Ways (for Derek Bailey)
2006
English Limewood
5 x 30 x 7 inches

 

Ricky Swallow. 'One Nation Underground' 2007

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
One Nation Underground
2007

 

Ricky Swallow. 'One Nation Underground' (detail) 2007

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
One Nation Underground (detail)
2007

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Tusk' 2007

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Tusk
2007
Bronze with white patina, brass fixtures
19.75 x 41.25 x 2.25 inches

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Tusk' (detail) 2007

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Tusk (detail)
2007
Bronze with white patina, brass fixtures
19.75 x 41.25 x 2.25 inches

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974) 'Rehearsal for Retirement' (detail) 2008

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Rehearsal for Retirement (detail)
2008
English Lime Wood, Poplar

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974) 'Rehearsal for Retirement' (detail) 2008

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Rehearsal for Retirement (detail)
2008
English Lime Wood, Poplar

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Bowman’s record' (detail) 2008

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Bowman’s record (detail)
2008
Bronze

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Bowman’s record' (detail) 2008

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Bowman’s record (detail)
2008
Bronze

 

 

Ricky Swallow’s sculptures address fundamental issues that lie at the core of who we are. Things have lives. We are our things. We are things. When all is said and done it is our things – our material possessions – that outlive us. Anyone who has lost a family member or close friend knows this: what we have before us once that person is gone are the possessions that formed a life. Just as we are defined and represented by the things that we collect over time, we are ultimately objects ourselves. When we are dead and decomposed what remains are our bones, another type of object. And then there is social science. Archaeology, a subfield of anthropology, is entirely based on piecing together narratives of human relations based on material culture, that is, objects both whole and fragmentary. It may seem obvious but it is worth stressing here that our understanding of cultures from the distant past, those that originated before the advent of writing, is entirely based on the study of objects and skeletal remains. Swallow’s art addresses these basic yet enduring notions and reminds us of our deep symbiotic relationship to the stuff of daily life.

Like the bricoleur put into popular usage by anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss in his seminal book The Savage Mind, Ricky Swallow creates works of art often based on objects from his immediate surroundings. His method, however, is more of a second order bricolage: his sculptures are not assemblages of found objects, but rather elegantly crafted things. Handcarved from wood or plaster or cast in bronze, these humble objects are transformed into memorials to both the quotidian and the passage of time.

 

Still life

The still life has been an important touchstone throughout Swallow’s recent practice as it is an inspired vehicle for the exploration of how meaning is generated by objects. Several sculptures in the exhibition reference the still-life tradition in which Swallow updates and personalises this time-honoured genre, in particular the vanitas paintings of 17th century Holland. Vanitas still lifes, through an assortment of objects that had recognisable symbolism to a 17th-century viewer, functioned as allegories on the futility of pleasure and the inevitably of death. Swallow’s embrace of still life convention, however, is non-didactic, secular and open-ended. Swallow is not obsessed by death. On the contrary, his focus on objects is about salvaging them from the dust bin of history and honouring their continued resonance in his life.

Killing time, 2003-04, and Salad days, 2005, depict animals that Swallow and his family either found or caught when he was young and best highlight how the artist reclaims the still life genre to explore personal narrative. Killing time, which depicts a bounty of fish and crustaceans spread across a table modelled after the Swallow family kitchen table of the artist’s youth, is rife with autobiographical association. It not only references an object from Swallow’s past, but also the profession of his father, a fisherman, and the fact that Swallow was raised by the sea. Salad days is another autobiographical work depicting a range of animals such as birds, a rabbit, mice and a fox skull. Like many boys growing up in rural environments, Swallow recalls shooting magpies, encountering nesting birds in his garage or discovering dead lizards or trapping live ones in an attempt to keep them as pets.

While not an overt still life, History of holding, 2007, suggests the genre in its fragmentary depiction of a musical instrument and the appearance of a lemon with falling rind. The hand holding/presenting a peeled lemon as the rind winds around the wrist in bracelet-like fashion is based on a cast of Swallow’s own hand, insinuating himself into this antiquated tradition. It is as if Swallow is announcing to us his deep interest in the temporality of objects through the presentation of the peeled lemon, which symbolises the passing of time and also appears in Killing time. The second component of History of holding is a sculptural interpretation of the Woodstock music festival icon designed by Arthur Skolnick in 1969, which still circulates today. History of holding, then, also references music, a leitmotif in Swallow’s art that appears both within the work itself, and also through Swallow’s use of titles.

 

Body fragments

Tusk, 2007 among several other works in the exhibition, explores the theme of body as fragment. Much has been discussed about Swallow’s use of the skeleton as a form rich in meaning within both the traditions of art history as well as popular culture (references range from the Medieval dance macabre and the memento mori of the still life tradition to the skeleton in rock music and skateboard art iconography). Tusk represents two skeletal arms with the hands clasped together in eternal union. A poignant work, Tusk is a meditation on permanence: the permanence of the human body even after death; the permanence of the union between two people, related in the fusion of the hands into that timeless symbol of love, the heart.

 

Watercolours: atmospheric presentations, mummies, music, homage

Swallow calls his watercolours “atmospheric presentations”, in contradistinction to his obviously more physical sculptures, and he sees them as respites from the intensity of labour and time invested in the sculptural work. They also permit experimentation in ways that sculpture simply does not allow. One nation underground, 2007, is a collection of images based on rock/folk musicians, several who had associations to 1960s Southern California, Swallow’s current home. Most of the subjects Swallow has illustrated in this work are now deceased; several experienced wide recognition only after their deaths. Like many of his sculptures, this group of watercolours tenderly painted with an air of nostalgia has the sensibility of a memorial – or as Swallow has called it “a modest monument”. The title of the work is based on a record album by another under-heralded rock band from the 1960s, Pearls Before Swine, and is a prime example of Swallow’s belief in the importance of titles to the viewing experience as clues or layers of meaning. In this case, the title hints at the quasi-cult status of the musicians and singers depicted. The featured musicians are Chris Bell (Big Star), Karen Dalton (a folk singer), Tim Buckley (legendary singer whose style spanned several genres and father to the late Jeff Buckley), Denny Doherty (The Mamas & the Papas ), Judee Sill (folk singer), Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Arthur Lee (Love), John Phillips (The Mamas & the Papas ), Skip Spence (Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape) and Phil Ochs (folk singer).

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website [Online] Cited 15/10/2010

 

Installation view of 'Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur' second room at NGV Australia

Installation view of 'Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur' second room at NGV Australia

 

Installation views of Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur second space at NGV Australia

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Caravan' (detail) 2008

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Caravan (detail)
2008
Bronze

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Salad days' c.2005

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Salad days
c. 2005

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Killing time' 2003 - 04

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Killing time
2003-04

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Killing time' (detail) 2003 - 04

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Killing time (detail)
2003-04

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974) 'Killing time' 2003-04

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Killing time
2003-04

 

Ricky Swallow. 'Killing time' (detail) 2003-04

 

Ricky Swallow (Australian, b. 1974)
Killing time (detail)
2003-04

 

 

“A new exhibition featuring the work of internationally renowned Australian artist Ricky Swallow will open at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia on 16 October 2009.

Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur is the artist’s first major exhibition in Australia since 2006. This exhibition will feature several of the artist’s well‐known intricately detailed, carved wooden sculptures as well as a range of new sculptural works in wood, bronze and plaster. The exhibition will also showcase two large groups of watercolours, an aspect of Swallow’s practice that is not as well known as his trademark works.

Salad days (2005) and Killing time (2003-04), which were featured in the 2005 Venice Biennale and are considered Swallow icons, will strike a familiar chord with Melbourne audiences.

Sculptures completed over the past year include bronze balloons on which bronze barnacles seamlessly cling (Caravan, 2008); a series of cast bronze archery targets (Bowman’s Record, 2008) that look like desecrated minimalist paintings; and carved wooden sculpture of a human skull inside what looks like a paper bag (Fig 1, 2008).

A highlight of the show will be Swallow’s watercolour, One Nation Underground (2007), recently acquired by the NGV. The work presents a collection of images based on 1960s musicians including Tim Buckley, Denny Doherty, Brian Jones and John Phillips.

Alex Baker, Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, NGV said the works in this exhibition explore the themes of life and death, time and its passing, mortality and immortality.

“Swallow’s art investigates how memory is distilled within the objects of daily life. His work addresses the fundamental issues that lie at the core of who we are, reminding us of our deep symbiotic relationship to the stuff of everyday life.”

“The exhibition’s title The Bricoleur refers to the kind of activities performed by a handyman or tinkerer, someone who makes creative use of whatever might be at hand. The Bricoleur is also the title of one of the sculptures in the exhibition, which depicts a forlorn houseplant with a sneaker wedged between its branches,” said Mr Baker.

Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV, said this exhibition reinforces the NGV’s commitment to exhibiting and collecting world‐class contemporary art.

“The NGV has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Ricky Swallow, exhibiting and acquiring a number of his works over the years. His detailed and exquisitely crafted replicas of commonplace objects never fail to inspire visitors to the Gallery.”

Ricky Swallow was born in Victoria in 1974 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. His career has enjoyed a meteoric rise since winning the NGV’s prestigious Contempora5 art prize in 1999. Since then, Swallow has exhibited in the UK, Europe and the United States, and represented Australia at the 2005 Venice Biennale.”

Press release from the NGV website [Online] Cited 10/10/2009 no longer available online

 

Ricky Swallow facing the media behind his work 'Killing time' (2003 - 04)

Ricky Swallow facing the media behind his work 'Killing time' (2003 - 04)

 

Ricky Swallow facing the media behind his work Killing time (2003-04)

 

 

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
Open daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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14
Oct
09

Exhibition: ‘Proud Flesh’ by Sally Mann at Gagosian Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 15th September – 31st October 2009

 

Sally Mann. 'Memory's Truth' 2008

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Memory’s Truth
2008
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

 

“I can think of numberless males, from Bonnard to Callahan, who have photographed their lovers and spouses, but I am having trouble finding parallel examples among my sister photographers. The act of looking appraisingly at a man, making eye contact on the street, asking to photograph him, studying his body, has always been a brazen venture for a woman, though, for a man, these acts are commonplace, even expected.”

.
Sally Mann

 

 

There is an interesting review of the book of the series on the 5B4: Photography and Books blog (from which the quotation above is taken). What photographs, what a ‘body’ of work, what an artist!

Marcus

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Many thankx to Gagosian Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Proud Flesh is for me an emotionally exhausting work about withering. It has elements of 19th century clinical photography done with absolute loving care for the subject. Its factual surface is quickly replaced by metaphor and the haze of imperfection from the wet-plate collodion negatives she employs. In a few of the images, due to the choice of striped bedding on which the figure lays, we might be looking at a historical photograph take from Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen. With Larry’s thin and seemingly weak legs dangling over the edge of a wooden cot, the soiled bedding following the contour of his legs, it is difficult for me to see this image without this harsh historical reference. The following image in the book, he is turned into a martyr – arms out stretched – the sheet underneath him now sharply crinkled like a bed of straw (or an imagined crown of thorns).

The surface texture plays such a strong role in these photos much of the seduction of these photos comes from the beauty of those imperfections. At times they can be nauseating, for their liquid streaks ooze over the images of aged flesh keeping viscera and bodily fluids as a second metaphoric subject. On the cover image, the disturbed collodion emulsion leaves a pattern which seems to be both looking at, and looking inside, the torso standing before the camera. Like Lee Friedlander’s shadow self-portrait (see the cover of Like a One-eyed Cat) where his organs are replaced with a jumble of rocks and his head is filled with straw, Mann’s image turns Larry’s insides into a mix of man and machine – collodion cogs and gears. This is the most wishful, as it portrays the strongest sense of life and the perhaps even the possibility of escaping its mortality. He stands at table’s edge with a steadying hand and a closed fist.

The most remarkable image for me appears as plate 20 and is captioned Time and the Bell (2008). Like the aforementioned cover image, this is an ideal as Mann has turned her husband’s head and shoulders into a profile bust of marble – the washed out light tones give way to a few angular shapes of rich shadow. It could be a still life of artefacts from an artists work space, a table and a sculptural work in progress. The surprise of the photographic description, which is present in most of the photos in Proud Flesh, is so complex and engaging for me it is difficult to not have it outshine all of the rest.”

5B4: Photography and Books blog October 1, 2009 [Online] Cited 28/04/2019

 

Sally Mann. 'Hephaestus' 2008

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Hephaestus
2008
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann’s poignant image of her husband, Larry, symbolises both his illness and his skill as a blacksmith.

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951) 'Somnambulist' 2009

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Somnambulist
2009
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

 

“Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present “Proud Flesh”, a series of new photographs by Sally Mann.

Children, landscape, lovers – these iconic subjects are as common to the photographic lexicon as light itself. But Mann’s take on them, rendered through processes both traditional and esoteric, is anything but common. From the outset of her career she has consistently challenged the viewer, rendering everyday experiences at once sublime and deeply disquieting.

In previous projects, Mann has explored the relationships between parent and child, brother and sister, human and nature, site and history. Her latest photographic study of her husband Larry Mann, taken over six years, has resulted in a series of candid nude studies of a mature male body that neither objectifies nor celebrates the focus of its gaze. Rather it suggests a profoundly trusting relationship between woman and man, artist and model that has produced a full range of impressions – erotic, brutally frank, disarmingly tender, and more. While the relation of artist and model is, traditionally, a male-dominated field that has yielded countless appraisals of the female body and psyche, Mann reverses the role by turning the camera on her husband during some of his most vulnerable moments.

Mann’s technical methods and process further emphasise the emotional and temporal aspects of these fragile life studies. The images are contact prints made from wet-plate collodion negatives, produced by coating a sheet of glass with ether-based collodion and submerging it in silver nitrate. Mann exploits the surface aberrations that can result from the unpredictability of the process to produce painterly photographs marked by stark contrasts of light and dark, with areas that resemble scar tissue. In works such as Hephaestus and Ponder Heart, the scratches and marks incurred in the production process become inseparable from the physical reality of Larry’s body.”

Text from the Gagosian Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/10/2009 no longer available online

 

Sally Mann. 'Kingfisher's Wing' 2007

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Kingfisher’s Wing
2007
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann. 'The Quality of the Affection' 2006

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
The Quality of the Affection
2006
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann. 'Ponder Heart' 2009

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Ponder Heart
2009
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

Sally Mann. 'Was Ever Love' 2009

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Was Ever Love
2009
Gelatin silver print
Contact print from a wet-plate collodion negative

 

 

Gagosian Gallery – Madison Avenue Gallery
980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075
Phone: 212.744.2313

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm

Gagosian Gallery website

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11
Oct
09

Review: ‘Sweet Complicity’ by eX de Medici at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th September – 24th October 2009

 

eX de Medici. 'Tooth and claw' 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
Tooth and claw
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper
114.0 x 521.0 cm

 

 

Is it sinful to say that an Armalite rifle can be voluptuously seductive? Not in the hands of artist eX de Medici!

Taking a variety of contemporary military high-powered weapons (Armalite AR30 Tactical .308 Sniper, Modified AK 47, Blackwater AR15, Patriot Ordinance P45 .223 for example) eX de Medici’s armaments have a steely presence softened and consumed by multitudinous garlands of traditional tattoo ‘flash’ iconography (flowers, skulls, bows, stars, Chinese dragons, waves and swallows repeated in Escher-like patterns) and contorted skeletons. Using individual colour palettes for each of the three large pen, ink and mica on paper works in the exhibition, eX subverts the masculine symbology of gun culture and decomposes it within an ornamentation of deathly desire – new compositions in the dance of death: ‘U hurt me Baby, U Fkd me up gd, the hole tht u made (cross) me Ded …’

In other less skilled artist’s hands the subject matter could become cliched and trite but here de Medici balances the disparate elements in her compositions and brings the subject matter alive – sinuously jumping off the paper, entwining the viewer in their delicious ironies, all of us sweetly complicit in the terror war (send more meat, send more meat!), fighting tooth and nail to keep urban realities at arm’s length. The dark desires that these works contain possess an aesthetic beauty that swallows us up so that we, too, become ‘Barbarians All’. Highly recommended!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Karen Woodbury Gallery for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

eX de Medici. 'Tooth and Claw' (detail) 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
Tooth and claw (detail)
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper
114.0 x 521.0 cm

 

eX de Medici. 'Tooth and claw' (detail) 2009

eX de Medici. 'Tooth and claw' (detail) 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
Tooth and claw (details)
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper
114.0 x 521.0 cm

 

Installation view of 'Sweet Complicity' by eX de Medici at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation view of Sweet Complicity by eX de Medici at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne featuring at left, Send more meat (2009) and at right, Tooth and claw (2009)

 

eX de Medici. 'Send more meat' 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
Send more meat
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper

 

eX de Medici. 'Send more meat' (detail) 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
Send more meat (detail)
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper

 

 

Sweet complicity is eX de Medici’s first and much anticipated exhibition at Karen Woodbury Gallery. The exhibition will comprise of three monumental pen, ink and mica works on archival paper. These works examine recurring themes in her practice such as power, war, death and violence via a decorative feminine veneer and aesthetic.

The recurrent use of symbolism in the form of weapons, skulls and garlands in her work re-appear with the addition of Chinese imagery (Imperial golden dragons, China’s five-pointed star, and the use of chrysanthemums). These potent works display a latent interest in scientific illustration and allude to de Medici’s characteristic stylised tattoo motifs that stems from her work as a tattooist. The almost obsessive repetition of pattern and immense detailing display eX’s dedication to her practice through the strong mental and physical commitment required to complete such awe-inspiring artworks that seduce the viewer.

There is an unmistaken polemic tone in de Medici’s practice that cannot be ignored. Different cultures, identities, actions and consequences are represented and centred on objects of warfare, allowing for disguised and layered political and moral statements.

de Medici lives and produces much of her work in the nation’s capital Canberra. Streams of influences inform the work; Canberra’s political and physical agendas, research resourced from various national institutions such as the CSIRO Entomological and Taxonomy Division, the National Library of Australia and the Australian War Memorial. She has recently returned from the Solomon Islands where she was chosen as an official war artist.”

Text from the Karen Woodbury Gallery website [Online] Cited 05/10/2009 no longer available online

 

The defining theme in eX de Medici’s paintings is a consistent interrogation of power. The notion of ‘the personal’ doesn’t interest the artist. Instead she investigates authority and dissent through paintings of guns, surveillance devices and gas masks.

 

eX de Medici. 'American Sex/Funky Beat Machine' 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
American Sex/Funky Beat Machine
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper
Diptych, 114.0 x 249.0 cm

 

eX de Medici. 'American Sex/Funky Beat Machine' (detail) 2009

 

eX de Medici (Australia, b. 1959)
American Sex/Funky Beat Machine (detail)
2009
Pen, ink and mica on archival paper
Diptych, 114.0 x 249.0 cm

 

 

Karen Woodbury Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

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08
Oct
09

Review: ‘Between Lines’ by Kim Lawler at fortyfive downstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th September – 10th October 2009

Curator: Amy Barclay

 

 

Kim Lawler 'Between Lines' #4 2009

 

Kim Lawler (Australian)
Between Lines #4
Aerial Photograph, Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia
2009

 

 

I finally made it to Kim Lawler’s exhibition Between Lines at fortyfive downstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne and, in many ways, the trip was well worth it. Lawler presents 12 prints from her eponymous series, aerial photographs taken over Western Australia.

Eschewing the essentially topographic state promoted in the “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” of 1975 that have influenced so many photographers in recent decades (including the hyper-real photographs of the West Australian landscape by Edward Burtynsky where there is an emotional distance between the photograph and the viewer), Lawler instead mines the depths of abstraction in landscape photography.

These are visceral photographs – in #4 the river and surrounds almost become vascular and cellular; in #13 the synapses and electrons infiltrate the highway reminding me of bomb craters from a Second World War landscape. In #7 the shrubs, unlike the precision of the New Topographics, become feckless dots, the landing strip a scar on the body; in #12 the toxic unsutured wound bleeds across the surface of the skin, white scar tissue surrounding it.

In these atypical mappings Lawler employs a taxonomy of disorder. The photographs are very soft in focus, soft in printing, big in the grain of the film and there is very little depth of field employed – in other words there is really nothing in focus at all, nothing that the eye and the mind can fix on. These are interstitial spaces (i.e. gaps between spaces full of structure or matter) and the title Between Lines is entirely appropriate for the work. The photographs contain beautiful textures, colours, surfaces.

This is their strength but also their weakness. The eye and the mind longs for something to hold onto, perhaps just a small fraction of the image to be in focus, so that the disorder plays off the order (for one cannot exist without the other!). Mutation only exists if their is something to mutate against. The other two small problems I had with the work were a matter of semantics and others may disagree – personally I found the size of the prints neither here nor there and they could have done with being about 2-3 inches larger and the white frames were too heavy. That is a funny thing to say about contemporary white frames, that they are too heavy for the work, but this is entirely possible: the moulding was too thick and the depth of the box frames to deep for my liking, detracting from the print itself and making the works darker than they needed to be.

Overall then an excellent exhibition that offers a positive variation on the cliched narrative of aerial photography of the Australian outback, one that questions the munificence of human habitation of the body and of the earth.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to fortyfive downstairs for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Kim Lawler. 'Between Lines #7 (Landing Strip)' 2009

 

Kim Lawler (Australian)
Between Lines #7 (Landing Strip)
Aerial Photograph, Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia
2009

 

Kim Lawler. 'Between Lines #8' 2009

 

Kim Lawler (Australian)
Between Lines #8 (Jones Soak, position approximate)
Aerial Photograph, Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia
2009

 

 

“Beyond romance or nostalgia, Lawler’s lucid visual studies reveal the aesthetic beauty of the stories being written and rewritten onto this responsive and at times fragile environment.”

Amy Barclay, curator

 

Between Lines comprises a series of aerial photographs taken in the Kimberley, far north Western Australia. This remote area is embedded with stories of Indigenous and non-Indigenous inhabitants, transitory visitors and scarred by multinational companies resource development. The artist, Kim Lawler, is concerned with markings, both natural and constructed, that tell stories of places, transitions and interruptions that occur within the landscape.

Between Lines is informed by Lawler’s experience of living in these regions and local perspectives on the displacement of people and their consequential relationship to the land that has taken place. It is also informed by the opposing qualities of abandon and connection that occur as the stories within these landscapes continue to unfold.

Competing demands for natural resources, and the resulting impact upon transitional landscapes, resonate with the stories of many generations of people that continue to flow through or inhabit each region. Attuned to the markings on these landscapes, it is these residual narratives ‘Between Lines’ seeks to record.

The imagery seen in Between Lines extends from Lawler’s previous artwork that interrogated additional Kimberley locations including: the remote Buccaneer Archipelago; the isolated far northern reaches of the Kimberley Coastline; Cockatoo Island iron ore mine and resort and; inland regions such as Warmun Aboriginal Community on the periphery of the Great Sandy Desert.

“Lawler’s eye is arrested by markings, natural and constructed, that trace and recount places, transitions and interruptions; the signifiers of change in a landscape millions of years old.”

Amy Barclay, curator

Text from the fortyfive downstairs website

 

Kim Lawler. 'Between Lines #12' 2009

 

Kim Lawler (Australian)
Between Lines #12
Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, Northern Kimberley, Western Australia
2009

 

Kim Lawler. 'Between Lines #13' 2009

 

Kim Lawler (Australian)
Between Lines #13
Great Northern Highway, Kimberley, Western Australia
2009

 

Kim Lawler. 'Between Lines #16' 2009

 

Kim Lawler (Australian)
Between Lines #16
Cockatoo Island Cyanide Settling Pool, Yampi Sound, Western Australia
2009

 

 

fortyfive downstairs
45, Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000

Opening hours:
Tue – Fri 11am to 5pm
Sat 12pm to 4pm

fortyfive downstairs website

Kim Lawler website

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07
Oct
09

Review: ‘Slow Down, You Move Too Fast’ by Kirra Jamison at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd September – 17th October 2009

 

Kirra Jamison. 'Livin' on a prayer' 2009

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Livin’ on a prayer
2009
Gouache, pen and vinyl on paper
160 x 114 cm

 

 

Hit, Hit, Hit with a Miss

Although all the work in this exhibition is dated 2009 this exhibition can fairly easily be divided into what seems to be two separate bodies of work: the excellent gouache, pen and vinyl works of paper and the ‘other’ less successful large paintings of owls and raccoons and the smaller paintings of hanging flowers and tree branches on dark purple ground.

The latter large and small paintings fail to hit the spot with the exception of Belong to me (2009, below) which has visual and conceptual links to the works on paper, the twin bodies dissolving into a kaleidoscopic dream-like effervescence of life. The paintings of the owl (Last star, 2009 below), raccoons (Can you see my aura 2009, below) together with another fairytale painting With a roof of flint and a floor of chalk (2009) fail to communicate a shared vision being disparate items that conceptually don’t seem to hang well together. They lack a certain spark, that revelatory presence and appear flat both physically and metaphorically.

On the flip side of the equation are works that are physically complex, conceptually robust and simply beautiful in their execution: no wonder so many of them have sold already! Using basic graphic patterns repeated and inverted (Jamison has an interest in graphics fostered through textile design), Jamison constructs fantasy worlds, fairytales on paper. In Livin’ on a prayer (2009, above) we have a splendid Carnival of the Animals as monkeys and creatures inhabit a boat sprouting flowers riding upon a sea made of flowers. In Willow weep 2 (2009, above) the tree of life is inhabited by creatures and a human figure (see halfway up on the right-hand side). In Future’s lovecraft (2009, below) incredible creatures again inhabit the imagined biospheric carnivalesque worlds. As Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin notes,

“The carnival offers the chance to have a new outlook on the world, to realise the relative nature of all that exists, and to enter a completely new order of things.”1

Here the new order of things is a thing of beauty to behold; the works draw you in with their colour and detail, their presence. I can’t wait to see what possibilities unfold next for the artist from this starting point for this is the very beginning of the path, a scratching of the surface of what is possible with this technique and themes. It is almost like an emotional texture, the breathe of cool air on your lungs in the early morning mist. I await developments with interest!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

.
Many thankx to Sophie Gannon Gallery for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and his World (trans. Hélène Iswolsky). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984, p. 34.

 

Kirra Jamison. 'Willow weep 2' 2009

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Willow weep 2
2009
Gouache and vinyl on paper
160 x 114 cm

 

Kirra Jamison. 'Future's lovecraft' 2009

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Future’s lovecraft
2009
Gouache and vinyl on paper
160 x 114 cm

 

Installation view of 'Slow down, don't run so fast' by Kirra Jamison at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond

 

Installation view of Slow down, you move too fast by Kirra Jamison at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond

 

Kirra Jamison. 'Belong to me (after Delaunay)' 2009

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Belong to me (after Delaunay)
2009
Acrylic, gouache and pen on canvas
220 x 183 cm

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian) 'Last Star' 2009

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Last Star
2009
crylic, gouache, pen and ink on canvas
185 x 153 cm

 

Kirra Jamison. 'Can you see my aura?' 2009

 

Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Can you see my aura?
2009

 

 

Sophie Gannon Gallery
2, Albert Street, Richmond, Melbourne
Phone: +61 3 9421 0857

Opening hours:
Tues – Saturday 11 – 5pm

Sophie Gannon Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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