04
Sep
10

Review: Pat Brassington at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th August – 18th September 2010

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Many thank to Angela Connor and all at Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images © and courtesy of the artist and Arc One Gallery.

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Pat Brassington
‘Ocean Child’
2009

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Pat Brassington
‘Like A Bird Now’
2010

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Pat Brassington
‘In Lieu’
2010

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Pat Brassington
‘Sensors’
2010

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Pat Brassington
‘Radar’
2009

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I have a vaguely ambivalent attitude towards the work of artist Pat Brassington. While the exhibition at Arc One Gallery in Melbourne contains some wonderful ‘images’ her work never seems to move me in an emotional sense. What it does do admirably is constantly engage me in cerebral jousting and sensory debate. Intellectually and visually I find the images stimulating, emotionally I am left a little bit cold.

Brassington’s sometimes fetishistic collage-like digital photographs occupy ambiguous spaces – fascinating ‘other’ worlds, constructed worlds that disturb and delight, drawing the viewer into subjective judgements on what, exactly, they are seeing. Brassington doesn’t need to speak about her work, much like Bill Henson never speaks about his work, because the viewer does that for her and that is the point – Brassington lets the viewer construct the story, a story that is open to multiple viewpoints and interpretations.

To see the work as just “surrealist” is to do it a disservice for it is much more than that. Of course the work uses various surrealist tropes but the power of these images is in setting up psychological encounters that are often bizarre, confronting and disturbing at a deeper level than just surface juxtapositions. These images seem to haunt you long after you have seen them. Using a limited colour palette of washed out purples, greys, yellows and pinks with a hit of red or blue where applicable (only once a green, never any solid, bright, strong colours) Brassington’s work keeps repeating objects and themes throughout the years – the dress, fish, gloves, hands, legs and the sensual mouth – to “evoke uneasy tensions between bizarre, sinister intimations of menace and weirdly beautiful, benign harmonies.” (Diane Foster).

In these new images the lascivious tongue is camouflaged, a woman marches determinedly and blindly over a hill, a child is wrapped and taped, two sateen gloves emanate and a boy breathes life into the sea (or is it the other way around, or is the boy destroying the sea through his breath?). The paradoxes are beautifully enacted and always challenging and that is the strength of the work of Brassington – offering us, the viewer, no easy way out as we stare at the red ribbons in a girl’s hair.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Pat Brassington
‘Camouflage’
2010

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Pat Brassington
‘Double Vision’
2010

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Pat Brassington
‘By the Way’
2010

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Pat Brassington
‘Stare’
2009

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Arc One Gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000
T: (03) 9650 0589

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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