Posts Tagged ‘anna schwartz gallery

08
Apr
11

Review: ‘Antony Gormley: MEMES’ at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 17th March – 23rd April 2011

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Antony Gormley
‘MEMES’ installation view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
2011
Photograph by Tim Griffith
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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The size of the figures surprises the viewer on entering the gallery.

Then observe the figures engagement with the gallery space.

The tensioning points between figures, wall and floor are fantastic.

“Placed directly on the floor they become acupuncture points within the volume of the space, allowing the viewer to become conscious, through the disparity of scale, of his/her own mass and spatial displacement as s/he moves around and amongst the works.” (Antony Gormley text, see below)

The figures lean, are lopsided, collapse, pose, are reordered and reconfigured.

They teeter on the edge of cracks in the gallery floor (perhaps a metaphor for humans standing before the abyss).

They form yoga poses.

They are Transformers (some of them remind me of the Star Wars ‘AT-AT’ Storm Troop Carrier, the ones that look like deadly mechanical elephants).

The figures self-replicate 27 communal blocks in different assemblages.

There seems to be a (metaphyiscal?) connection between the figures, through gesture, across space.

“A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.” (Wikipedia)

They mutate, much as the human is mutating into the posthuman.

“The randomness to which mutation testifies is implicit in the very idea of pattern, for only against the background of nonpattern can pattern emerge. Randomness is the contrasting term that allows pattern to be understood as such.” (see below)

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PS. We were down on our hands and knees looking at the figures (just like some of their configurations) and this gave a whole new perspective to the work.

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“What happens in the case of mutation? Consider the example of the genetic code. Mutation normally occurs when some random event (for example, a burst of radiation or a coding error) disrupts an existing pattern and something else is put in its place instead. Although mutation disrupts pattern, it also presupposes a morphological standard against which it can be measured and understood as mutation. We have seen that in electronic textuality, the possibility for mutation within the text are enhanced and heightened by long coding chains. We can now understand mutation in more fundamental terms. Mutation is critical because it names the bifurcation point at which the interplay between pattern and randomness causes the system to evolve in a new direction. It reveals the productive potential of randomness that is also recognized within information theory when uncertainty is seen as both antagonistic and intrinsic to information.
We are now in a position to understand mutation as a decisive event in the psycholinguistics of information. Mutation is the catastrophe in the pattern/randomness dialectic analogous to castration in the presence/absence dialectic. It marks a rupture of pattern so extreme that the expectation of continuous replication can in longer be sustained. But as with castration, this only appears to be a disruption located at a specific moment. The randomness to which mutation testifies is implicit in the very idea of pattern, for only against the background of nonpattern can pattern emerge. Randomness is the contrasting term that allows pattern to be understood as such.”

Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp.30-33.
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Many thankx to the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery for allowing me to publish the text and photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney.

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Antony Gormley
‘MEME CXXVII’
2011
Cast iron
37.3 x 9.3 x 7.8 cm
Photograph by Stephen White
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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“A Meme is a cultural analogue to a gene. Forms that are transmitted in thought or behaviour from one body to another, responding to conditional environments, self-replicating and capable of mutation.

The miniature or the model allows the totality of a body to be seen at once. These small solid iron works use the formal language of architecture to replace anatomy and construct volumes to articulate a range of 32 body postures. The ambition is to make intelligible forms that form an abstract lexicon of body-posture but which nevertheless carry the invitation of empathy and the transmission of states of mind.

Displayed widely spaced within the architecture of Anna Schwartz Gallery in Melbourne, the works interface with the architecture of the gallery. Placed directly on the floor they become acupuncture points within the volume of the space, allowing the viewer to become conscious, through the disparity of scale, of his/her own mass and spatial displacement as s/he moves around and amongst the works.

This will be the first time that the Memes series, begun in 2007, will be shown together. The space of art as a reflexive test ground in which the direct experience of the viewer becomes the ground of meaning is a continual quest in this artist’s work and continues the exploration of scale seen in the expanded dimensions of FIRMAMENT at Anna Schwartz Gallery Sydney in February 2010, and the miniature scale of ASIAN FIELD, seen in the Sydney Biennale of 2008.”

Antony Gormley

Text from the Anna Schwartz website

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Antony Gormley
‘MEME CXLI’
2011
Cast iron
4.5 x 9.5 x 36.4 cm
Photograph by Stephen White
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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Antony Gormley
‘MEME CXXIX’
2011
Cast iron
10 x 7.7 x 29
Photograph by Stephen White
Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne and Sydney

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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17
Oct
10

Review: ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ by AES+F at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 7th October – 23rd October 2010

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Many thankx to The Melbourne International Arts Festival and Anna Schwartz Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Viewers: please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image as it is essential to see the freeze frame action, what is actually going on within the images. All images courtesy the artists and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne & Sydney.

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #1’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #2’
2009

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Searching for identity like mould spore taking root

In one sense these large panoramic, digitally constructed mis en scene photographs by Russian collective AES+F at Anna Schwartz Gallery, (taken from the “celebrated” video of the same name which debuted at the Venice Biennale in 2009) are mere echoes of the lyrical, dance and fugue-like structures of the moving work.

In another sense they work well as still photographs. The balance inherent within the picture frame is exemplary, the use of colour and the feeling of rhythm and flow of the figures in pictorial space, wonderful. This rhythm can be called the physiognomy of the work, its style.1 In these photographs style is hard to miss and the photographs fulfil what Susan Sontag saw as one of the main prerequisites for good art: that of emotional distance from lived reality, that allows us to the look at the work dispassionately before bringing those observations back into the real world:

“All works of art are founded on a certain distance from the lived reality which is represented. This “distance” is, by definition, inhuman or impersonal to a certain degree; for in order to appear to us as art, the work must restrict sentimental intervention and emotional participation, which are functions of “closeness.” It is the degree and manipulating of this distance, the conventions of distance, which constitute the style of the work … But the notion of distance (and of dehumanisation, as well) is misleading, unless one adds that the movement is not just away from but toward the world.”2

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In these photographs we have a pastiche of cultural attitudes and mores that allows us to reflect on the foibles, paradoxes, consumerism and stereotypes of identity formation of the contemporary world, mixed with a healthy serving of voyeurism. As Javier Panera notes, “AES+F’s work is nurtured from moral and cultural paradoxes: seduction and threat; hyperrealism and artificiality; classicism and contemporaneity; spirituality and sensuality; historicism and the end of history,”3 and they construct a new oligarchy within a dystopic, Arcadian world. Variously, we have masters and servants, oriental and neoclassical architecture, haute couture, lesbianism, adoration, a youth dressed in white falling out of a priests robes (or is a kimono?) onto an altar-like table, savages and beasts, homoerotic encounters and many more besides – all constructed in an imagined world of a temporary hotel performing rituals of leisure and pleasure, an orgiastic but chaste imagining in this world, looking back at lived reality.

And for me there is the problem. While the photographs offer this vision of temptation and delight in the end they just reinforce the basis of belief in the status quo, the power of cultural hegemony. Subversion as an act, a decorative performance imbued with titillation. As Marco Fusinato observed, using a quotation from an anarchist website in a work in his latest exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery (and the irony does not escape me, far from it!):

“The artist is also the mainstay of a whole social milieu – called a “scene” – which allows him to exist and which he keeps alive. A very special ecosystem: agents, press attachés, art directors, marketing agents, critics, collectors, patrons, art gallery managers, cultural mediators, consumers… birds of prey sponge off artists in the joyous horror of showbiz. A scene with its codes, norms, outcasts, favourites, ministry, exploiters and exploited, profiteers and admirers. A scene which has the monopoly on good taste, exerting aesthetic terrorism upon all that which is not profitable, or upon all that which doesn’t come from a very specific mentality within which subversion must only be superficial, of course at the risk of subverting.”4

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The subversion of these images is superficial, a surface appearance of insurrection.

Despite protestations to the contrary (an appeal on the AES+F website to the idea of the Roman saturnalia, see text below) – where the masters serve the slaves at a dinner once a year, this reversal was only ever superficial at best: “the reversal of the social order was mostly superficial; the banquet, for example, would often be prepared by the slaves, and they would prepare their masters’ dinner as well. It was license within careful boundaries; it reversed the social order without subverting it. “5

It was a license within careful boundaries.
It reversed the social order without subverting.
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The same can be said of these wonderful, colourful, rhythmic, chaste, trite, in vogue, pale imitations of subversion. The images come from a very specific mentality within which subversion must only be superficial because they are, after all, images that are searching for an identity in order to access and survive in the Western art world.

ex nihilo nihil fit (Nothing comes of nothing) and please, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #3’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #4’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #5’
2009

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“In the ‘Satyricon’, the work of the great wit and melancholic lyric poet of Nero’s reign, Gaius Petronius Arbiter, the best preserved part is ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ (Cena Trimalchionis). Thanks to Petronius’s fantasy, Trimalchio’s name became synonymous with wealth and luxury, with gluttony and with unbridled pleasure in contrast to the brevity of human existence.

We searched for an analogue in the third millennium and Trimalchio, the former slave, the nouveau riche host of feasts lasting several days, appeared to us not so much as an individual as a collective image of a luxurious hotel, a temporary paradise which one has to pay to enter.

The hotel guests, the ‘masters’, are from the land of the Golden Billion. They’re keen to spend their time, regardless of the season, as guests of the present-day Trimalchio, who has created the most exotic and luxurious hotel possible. The hotel miraculously combines a tropical coastline with a ski resort. The ‘masters’ wear white which calls to mind the uniform of the righteous in the Garden of Eden, or traditional colonial dress, or a summer fashion collection. The ‘masters’ possess all of the characteristics of the human race – they are all ages and types and from all social backgrounds. Here is the university professor, the broker, the society beauty, the intellectual. Trimalchio’s ‘servants’ are young, attractive representatives of all continents who work in the vast hospitality industry as housekeeping staff, waiters, chefs, gardeners, security guards and masseurs. They are dressed in traditional uniforms with an ethnic twist. The ‘servants’ resemble the brightly-colored angels of a Garden of Eden to which the ‘masters’ are only temporarily admitted.

On one hand the atmosphere of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ can be seen as bringing together the hotel rituals of leisure and pleasure (massage and golf, the pool and surfing). On the other hand the ‘servants’ are more than attentive service-providers. They are participants in an orgy, bringing to life any fantasy of the ‘masters’, from gastronomic to erotic. At times the ‘masters’ unexpectedly end up in the role of ‘servants’. Both become participants in an orgiastic gala reception, a dinner in the style of Roman saturnalia when slaves, dressed as patricians, reclined at table and their masters, dressed in slaves’ tunics, served them.

Every so often the delights of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ are spoiled by catastrophes which encroach on the Global Paradise…”

AES+F, 2009
Translated by Ruth Addison

Text from the AES+F website

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #6’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #7’
2009

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“Russian collective AES+F work with photography, video, sculpture and mixed media. Since 1987, they have interwoven imagery relating to modern technology, Hollywood cinema, fashion photography, advertising, death, religion, the British Royal Family, mass media, popular culture and youth obsession throughout their work.

‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ is an interpretation of the witty but melancholy fiction ‘Satyricon’ by the Roman poet Petronius. In the ancient version Trimalchio’s feast was portrayed as the ideal celebration that Trimalchio imagined for his own funeral. In the AES+F 21st Century version, an orgy of consumerism reflects on the contemporary state of Russia and indeed the world. Created from over 75,000 photographs, the complete work is a nine-channel panoramic media that made its celebrated debut at the 2009 Venice Biennale. For the Festival, Anna Schwartz Gallery features a set of three expansive photographic tableaux. These captivating images of a temporary hotel paradise portray opulence and excess overshadowed by a dark uneasiness.”

Text from the Melbourne International Arts Festival website

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #8’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #9’
2009

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1. Sontag, Susan. “On Style,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Delta Book, 1966, pp. 30-31.

2. Ibid.,

3. Panera, Panera. “AES+F’s The  Feast of Trimalchio,” on FlashArtonline.com [Online] Cited 17/10/2010.
www.flashartonline.com/interno.php?pagina=video_det&id=36&det=ok

4. Anon. “Escapism has its price The artist has his income,” on Non Fides website Wednesday 17 September 2008 [Online] Cited 28/09/2010. http://www.non-fides.fr/?Escapism-has-its-priceThe-artist

5. Anon. “Saturnalia,” on Wikipedia [Online] Cited 17/10/2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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22
Aug
10

Exhibition: ‘AND THEN…’ by Ian Burns at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th July – 28th August, 2010

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Two words: JUST GO!

Yes the work can be analysed as in the text (below) from the Anna Schwartz Gallery website but this is not necessary to enjoy the work. These are such fun assemblages, the created mis en scenes so magical and hilarious, guffaw inducing even, that they are entirely delightful.

I delighted in how they were constructed, almost thrown together from found objects that relate to the theme of each work; in the miniature cameras and environments – the Jumbo jet flying through the ‘sky’ of clouds created by a boiling water heater; in every particle of light as the words ‘AND THEN…‘ were created through aligned lens prisms (‘A Moment Implied’ 2010); and I was in wonder at the shimmering, setting sun in ‘Venus’ (2010).

There is so much to like here – the inventiveness, the freshness of the work, the insight into the use of images in contemporary culture. Still photographs of this work do not do it justice. I came away from the gallery uplifted, smiling, happy – and that is a wonderful thing to happen.

As I said at the beginning: JUST GO!

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Many thankx to Ash Kilmartin and the Anna Schwartz Gallery for the photographs in the posting. Please click on the images for a larger version of the image. All images are courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

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Ian Burns
’15 hours v.4′
2010
Found object kinetic sculpture, live video and audio
Image courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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Ian Burns
‘Makin’ Tracks’
2010
Found objects, live video and audio
Image courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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For his first solo exhibition in Melbourne, and his first exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Ian Burns presents a number of sculptures that continue to explore the manufactured screen image. Referring in title to the simplistic and little-nuanced plots of pulp fiction, AND THEN… provides a space in which we might become more conscious of the images we consume on a daily basis. Incorporating and sometimes generating sound and image, Burns’ ‘meta-cinematic’ monuments invoke popular moving imagery and by extension the culture which produces them. Burns builds these audio-visual-sculptural forms in order to reveal the clichés of contemporary screen culture. Without ignoring the context of his own production, Burns’ critique of mindless images also extends to those contemporary art practices that similarly play upon the objects familiar to daily life. Comprised of found objects, each sculpture contains within it a unique narrative. For example, the coincidence of discovering a clam-shaped, children’s swimming pool, along with some discarded mannequins, led  the artist to Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’. What ensues is a unique extension of the metaphor, as Venus – through Burns – gives birth to video. This brings us to the underlying essence of Burns’ work: while critically bringing to light complex theories about popular culture and the entertainment industry, these works contain a necessary dose of humour – making them utterly compelling.

Text from the Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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Ian Burns
‘AND THEN…’
2010
Installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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09
May
10

Review: ‘Safety Zone’ by John Young at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 15th April – 22nd May, 2010

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What can one say about work that is so confronting, poignant and beautiful – except to say that it is almost unbearable to look at this work without being emotionally charged, to wonder at the vicissitudes of human life, of events beyond one’s control.

Simply, this is the best exhibition that I have seen in Melbourne so far this year.

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The exhibition tells the story of the massacre of 300,000 people in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu, China by Japanese troops in December, 1937 in what was to become known as the Nanjing Massacre. It also tells the story of a group of foreigners led by German businessman John Rabe and American missionary Minnie Vautrin who set up a “safety zone” to protect the lives of at least 250,000 Chinese citizens. The work is conceptually and aesthetically well resolved, the layering within the work creating a holistic narrative that engulfs and enfolds the viewer – holding them in the shock of brutality, the poignancy of poetry and the (non)sublimation of the human spirit to the will of others.

On the left wall of the gallery are three large mixed-media paintings of screen printed photographs of the Nanjing Flower Market taken the year before the massacre (see three images directly below). The printing of the press photographs at such a scale (a la Marco Fusinato) emphasises the dot structure of the photograph, the intensity of a newspaper reality ‘blown up’ to a huge scale. Unfortunately, you cannot see this deconstruction of the image very well in the examples below (clicking on the lower two images to get a larger version will give you a better idea), but believe me it most effective in creating a spatio-temporal distance between the viewer and the image. The dissolution of the image into dots is surmounted by painted cherry blossoms, bleached corals and piles of logs that overlay the photographic text. The reason-ances are sublime. The mind tries to process the distance between the death of the people and the photograph, the knowledge of what is about to happen to them, and the sensuality of the buds and flowers: new life!
To my friend and I the coral in the last painting reminded us both of the emanations of psychic phenomena at a seance, a series of radiations originating in the godhead.

On the right wall of the gallery is a grid of three rows of twenty images that make up the work ‘Safety Zone’ (2010, see bottom image). Made up of chalk drawings on black paper (a la Rudolf Steiner), writings by the Europeans including Vautrin and Rabe, statistics, gruesome photographs of the massacre and observations by the artist, this is in part both a confronting and benevolent work.
Archival photographs are printed digitally (the dot structure working to less affect here); some vertical photographs are shown horizontally. Text written in chalk is erased with a sweep of the hand. Thoughts of the Buddha, the infinity symbol linked to the Buddha’s Ray and the Buddha’s Heart are a physical presence. Two blue chalk lines intersect and cross over, so poignant and sublime amongst the destruction that surrounds. Golf clubs, beer bottles, bayonets.

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‘THERE IS NOTHING LEFT’ 13.12.37 (Robert Wilson)

‘HOME SICKNESS’

‘Simulacrum > Heart’

A simply drawn coffin shape on black ground

‘I began to roam around the city preventing further atrocities myself’

‘They will not do so, if it is in my power to prevent it’ (Minnie Vautrin)

UNSPEAKABLE ACTS OF EVIL … BECOMING BANAL

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At both ends of the gallery is the last element in this play of hope, mutability and madness. Two large oil-on-linen paintings, titled ‘The Crippled Tree #1 & #2’ (see images below) “provide another register to the memory of the event. According to Young, the battered and split logs, painted in the negative, resonate and recollect the violence done to the victims of the massacre.” Unfortunately the two small images below cannot really give you an idea of the metaphorical power of these paintings. Like twisted and broken bodies larger than life size they become the glue that holds the other elements of the exhibition together. Without them there would be no transition from one side of the gallery, one element of the work to another. In their solarisation they emote an energy that flows down the length of the gallery = is this possible? Yes it is!
You feel the cracking of their branches, the amputation of their limbs but their spirit, their efflorescence (which, most appropriately considering the use of the Flower Market photographs, means “to flower out” in French) shines on. Such is the nature of the human spirit. Take the time and see this work. It is well worth the journey.

Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the artist, Serena Bentley and Anna Schwartz Gallery for allowing me to reproduce the images in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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John Young
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #3
2010
digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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John Young
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #2
2010
digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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John Young
Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) #1
2010
digital print and oil on Belgian linen
240 x 331 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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“Safety Zone, John Young’s latest project presents a series of intricate paintings that reassemble historical reminiscences of human survival by linking experimental contemporary art with investigative visual reports, in historical photographs and documents.

This body of work draws attention to incidents across the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu, China, just moments before the onset of the Nanjing Massacre, which followed the capture of the city by Japanese Imperial Forces on 13 December 1937. In the six weeks following the invasion, a quarter of a million Chinese citizens were killed in what the American historian Iris Chang described as the ‘forgotten holocaust of World War II’.

Through Chang’s book, The Rape of Nanking, the world was introduced to the personal memoirs of foreigners living in Nanjing who had been working on creating a ‘safety zone’ that would protect 250,000 Chinese citizens from the invading Japanese troops. Two of the twenty-one foreigners who stayed in the city to help set up the Nanjing Safety Zone were the American missionary Minnie Vautrin and the German businessman John Rabe. Their experiences have been noted by Young, who travelled to Nanjing, Berlin and Heidelberg, conducting first hand interviews and research for this compelling multi-layered project which exemplifies the transformative function of art.

The installation Safety Zone consists of three series of works which reference acts of resistance by individuals to protect fellow human beings against these atrocities that were underpinned by autocratic regimes and nationalist ideologies.

In the Flower Market (Nanjing 1936) series, carefully painted spring flowers and bleached corals are superimposed over historical photographs taken in Nanjing a year prior to the massacre. The meticulously rendered impressions of logs in The Crippled Tree #1 & #2 provide another register to the memory of the event. According to Young, the battered and split logs, painted in the negative, resonate and recollect the violence done to the victims of the massacre.

The carefully assembled bank of 60 chalk drawings and digital prints that make up the centerpiece of Safety Zone provides an intricate understanding of the humanity that lies beneath this tragic event through the revelation of extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice.”

Dr.Thomas J. Berghuis
Department of Art History and Film, The University of Sydney

Text from the Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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John Young
The Crippled Tree #1
2010
oil on linen
274 x 183 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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John Young
The Crippled Tree #2
2010
oil on linen
274 x 183 cm
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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John Young
Safety Zone
2010
60 works, digital prints on photographic paper and chalk on blackboard-painted archival cotton paper
Installation shot, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
image courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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12
Jul
09

Review: ‘Double Infinitives’ by Marco Fusinato at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 25th June – 25th July, 2009

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Marco Fusinato. 'Double Infinitive 3' 2009

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Marco Fusinato
‘Double Infinitive 3’
2009

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Marco Fusinato. 'Double infinitive I' 2009

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Marco Fusinato
‘Double infinitive 1’
2009

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‘Double Infinitives’ by Marco Fusinato at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne is an excellent exhibition of large UV ink on aluminium images sourced by Fusinato from the print media.

The images are made up of a dot pattern familiar to those who have examined photographs in the print media closely. Larger and smaller clusters of dots form the light and shade of the image. As you move closer to the works they dissolve into blocks of dots and become and optical illusion like Op Art from the 1960s. Fusinato contrasts this dot structure with the inclusion of flat panels of black ink to the left and right hand side of the images. The section lines that run through the images (for they are not one single image but made up of panels) also adds to the optical nature of the work as the lines cut the conflagrations, literally stitching the seams/scenes together.

Each image contains an individual holding a rock enclosed in the milieu and detritus of a riot; the figures are grounded in the earth and surrounded by fire but in their obscurity, in the veiling of their eyes, the figures seem present but absent at one and the same time. They become ghosts of the fire.

Fire consumes the bodies. The almost cut out presence of the figures, their hands clutching, throwing, saluting become mute. Here the experience of the sound, colour and movement of an actual riot is silenced in the flatness and smoothness of the images. The images possess the intensity of a newspaper reality ‘blown up’ to a huge scale by Fusinato (see the installation photograph below to get an idea of the effect). The punctum of the riot, that prick of consciousness that Barthes so liked, is translated into a silenced studium of the aluminium surface; an aural history (the sound)/oral history (the telling of the story) trapped in the structure of silence.

There is a double jeopardy – the dissolution of the image into dots and the disintegration of the body into fire. In one of the images the upraised arm and hand of one of the rioters holds a rock with what appears to be a figure on it, surrounded by fire. To me the arm turned into one of the burning Twin Towers with smoke and fire pouring from it (see the first photograph in the installation photograph below).

My only concern about the images were the black panels, perhaps too obvious a tool for the purpose the artist intended. Maybe the needed some small texture, like a moire pattern to reference the contours of a map and continue the topographical and optical theme. Perhaps they just needed to be smaller or occasionally placed as thin strips down the actual image itself but these are small quibbles. Overall this is an fantastic exhibition that I enjoyed immensely. The images are literally ripped from the matrix of time and space and become the dot dot dot of the addendum. What Fusinato does so excellently is to make us pause and stare, to recognize the flatness of these figures and the quietness of violence that surrounds us.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Music – Noise  – Silence

Flatness – Advertising – Earth – Fire

Rock – Space – Memory

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Marco Fusinato. 'Double Infinitive 4' 2009

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Marco Fusinato
‘Double Infinitive 4’
2009

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Installation of Marco Fusinato 'Double Infinitives' exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

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Installation of Marco Fusinato ‘Double Infinitives’ exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

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“DOUBLE INFINITIVES

“Unheard music is better than heard” (Greek proverb of late antiquity).

“That music be heard is not essential – what it sounds like may not be what it is” (Charles Ives, Essays Before a Sonata).

“The proposition of Jacques Attali’s Noise is different. He says that while noise is a deadly weapon, silence is death.”

David Rattray, How I Became One of the Invisible. Semiotext(e), 1992.

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The explosive communal act of rioting is most commonly delivered to an audience suspended in the stillness and silence of a photographic image. Noise is not removed in this process, it is almost amplified: the sound and action that deliver this singularly captured moment into existence are infinite, as all things remain while they are imagined, before they are anchored down by express articulation.

Photographic representation can easily be accused of subverting the truth of events, not because what is seen in the image has not transpired, but because static images leave so much space around them for multiple narratives to be constructed. The still image is totally contingent on the consciousness that confronts it. By contrast, the near-totality of videos can give too much away …

Sourced by Fusinato from print media published in the last few years, these images of rioting all contain an individual clutching a rock, bathed in the refractory glow of a nearby fire. The image has become prototypical, so much so that it lacks the sensation of spontaneity requisite to produce a riot. (Apropos to this predictability, Fusinato would check global newspapers after every forum or conference of global financial authorities, often finding the image he was looking for).

Double Infinitives is a succinct allegory for the reluctance to compromise comfort overpowering radical impulses. Conversations suggest this is a conflict frequently experienced by artists. Deprived of a volatile political reality, we experience radicalism through images that act as small ruptures, reminders that the world we live in might be more severely charged than our individual experiences allow. Fusinato’s works flatten these images of volatility onto a smooth slate: they are similar and radiate with the vexed beauty of sameness. A riot is a mad and brutal spectacle, a theatre that is often documented as if it were a play. Hugely expanded in scale and rendered in the suffused gloss of advertising, the real possibility of violence that these works infer deepens the layers of the fiction rather than comprising an indicator of human concern. Those things with which we come into such gentle contact that their thorns barely prick …”

Liv Barrett
June 2009

Text from the Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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Marco Fusinato. 'Double Iinfinitive 2' 2009

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Marco Fusinato
‘Double Iinfinitive 2’
2009

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Marco Fusinato. 'Double Iinfinitive 2' (detail) 2009

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Marco Fusinato
‘Double Iinfinitive 2’ (detail)
2009

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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25
Mar
09

Review: ‘The Big Black Bubble’ exhibition of paintings by Dale Frank at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 12th March  – 11th April 2009

 

“The immersive scale of these new paintings at Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne allows us to experience their inner qualities of landscape and of transformation. This is painting at fundamental authenticity. The paint is its own agent; it is allowed to act, to behave. The artist is the facilitator of these phenomena of nature and natural forces, whose residue is a metaphor for nature itself.

Black contains all colours, contours and depths. A pink monochrome is transformed by pure varnish into an expressionistic moment of process and performance. All colour is absent from elemental silver aluminium and form and gesture alone survive. New dynamics are possible through an innovative colouration: the emergence of colour through black, and its equivalent power.

Dale Frank’s painting is one of poetry, performance and nature. It represents both the macro and micro. Huge universal forces pulsate with molecular, atomic activities. Imagination is gifted by the artist to the viewer. These are our paintings to create.”

Anonymous text from the exhibition flyer.

 

Dale Frank. 'The Big Black Bubble' installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne 2009

 

Dale Frank
‘The Big Black Bubble’ installation view
Left to right: ‘Timothy Oliphant’ (2008), ‘Ryan Gosling’ (2008/2009) and ‘Matthew Macfadyen’ (2008)
2009

 

Dale Frank. 'The Big Black Bubble' installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne 2009

 

Dale Frank
‘The Big Black Bubble’ installation view
Left to right: ‘Daniel Radcliffe’ (2008/2009), ‘Khan Chittenden’ (2009) and ‘Rupert Grint’ (2008/2009)
2009

 

This is a brilliant exhibition by Dale Frank, one of my favourites so far this year in Melbourne.

Six large varnish on linen landscape paintings are presented in the beautiful Anna Schwartz gallery space in Melbourne. Photographs really do not do the paintings justice – they can only give an impression of the size and scale of the work but not of their intimacy or smell. The smell of varnish permeates the air. The serendipity of the natural convulsions of the varnish and the facilitations of the hand of the artist, his performance, have been caught like bugs in amber in the final molecular structure of the painting. Here are pendulous, globular goops of varnish, immersive heroic tone poems that form images in the mind of the viewer. Moving close to the paintings you are surrounded by flows and eddies, the macro and the micro; details become more apparent as you study the work.

While disagreeing that these paintings are the viewers to create (the viewer as author) what I can say is that the artist offers the viewer the ability to generate their own resonances with the painting, to use the imagination of ‘equivalence’ to suggest what these paintings stand for – and also what else they stand for. States of being, of transformation, wonder and joy emerge in the playfulness of these works. Perhaps this is where the titles of the paintings come from, referencing film actors in the pop tradition, but this is the only thing that did not ring true with the work, their titles. The use of this trope seems to me a bit facile given the nature of the work.

The hot pink painting ‘Rupert Grint’ (2008/2009, above) is hotter and lighter than in the photograph above, the varnish more translucent, the effect altogether mesmeric. You are drawn into the work, the intensity of the colour, the thickness of the hanging varnish. Two cosmological galaxies (‘Timothy Oliphant’ (2008) and ‘Matthew Macfadyen’ (2008)) surround the most complex painting in the exhibition, the darkness and light that is ‘Ryan Gosling’ (2008/2009, below).

 

Dale Frank. 'Ryan Gosling' (2008/2009)

 

Dale Frank
‘Ryan Gosling’
2008/2009

 

This painting is a tour de force. With the poetic structure of an oil spill, the varnish forms intricate slick upon slick contours that are almost topographical in their mapping. The black oozes light, becomes ‘plastic’ black before your eyes, like the black of Rembrandt’s backgrounds, illusive, illuminative and hard to pin down – perpetually hanging there in two dripping rows, fixed but fluid at one and the same time (you can just see the suspensions in the photograph above).

The painting reminds me of the black paintings of Mark Rothko that he undertook for The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas (see below). As with the Rothko paintings, this painting is not just black (physically there are swirls of purple as in the Rothko paintings), not about darkness at all. What both artists do is create a contemplative, transformative space  – in Frank’s case for a world on the edge of oblivion. This is a post post-modern landscape: process and nature, performance and chance coalescing in the colour : black!

This painting is one of the most overwhelming syntheses of art and nature, of universal forces that I have seen in recent contemporary art. This exhibition is an electric pulsating universe of life, landscape and transformation. Magnificent!

M Bunyan

 

The Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas

 

The Rothko Chapel
Houston, Texas

 

 

Anna Schwartz Gallery

185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000
Australia

+61 3 9654 6131

Tuesday – Friday 12-6pm
Saturday 1-5pm

21
Dec
08

Review: ‘Intersection’ by Daniel Crooks at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th November – 20th December 2008

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“The subjects of Daniel Crook’s oeuvre; the recurrence of city transport systems, lifts in high-rise buildings alongside images of the sea, invoke an idea of the world made as much of time as space and that indeed we ourselves are also made of time …
Crooks works, literally, from inside the medium, deconstructing its time-space matrix to reveal the inner truth about the subjects of video: they are purely temporal.
The five works comprising Intersection are all sourced from the same ‘volume’ of video footage. Each video is a formal variation that navigates an alternative path through the same light field, pushing its own ‘picture plane’ through the space along opposing axes.
The two most figurative videos navigate the entire volume of footage – each swapping time for the vertical or the horizontal. The second, more abstracted videos are reduced to horizontal and vertical ‘planes’. The centre work – a single pixel of information that tunnels through time – is the intersection between opposing axes, almost like the fulcrum or nodal point, and in turn acts as a pivot for the installation.” 

Catalogue notes from Daniel Crooks exhibition Intersection at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

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This was a magical exhibition – beautiful, insightful and mesmerising in equal parts. Five large video screens were presented in the long space of the Anna Schwartz gallery in Melbourne. The outer two videos feature striated horizontal and vertical bands of pulsating colours, fluxing up and down and from side to side, seemingly rushing past like tarmac outside a moving car. These videos add balance at each end of the installation.

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Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection No.2 (vertical plane)' 2008

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Daniel Crooks
Intersection No.2 (vertical plane)
2008

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The inner videos on either side of the central panel are the most figurative of the work: the video on the left-hand side reminded me of a Jackson Pollock drip painting come alive, ribbons of paint in time and space morphing backwards, finally coalescing into figures and their shadows walking across tarmac; the video on the right-hand side shows people moving across a pedestrian intersection like an animated slow motion photograph flowing anamorphically across the screen, their shadows distorted on the ground as trams pass behind them. Up close the surface of the projected video breaks down into grided squares of light, hypnotic in their blooming, shape-shifting colours.

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Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection No.5 (horizontal volume)' 2008

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Daniel Crooks
Intersection No.5 (horizontal volume)
2008

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Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection No.4 (vertical volume)' 2008

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Daniel Crooks
Intersection No.4 (vertical volume)
2008

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The central panel is the key to the whole work. Intensities of colour flash and fade in time with atmospheric ambient music (by J. David Franz and Byron Scullin) that works effectively with the whole installation. Beeps of the pedestrian crossing intersection intersperse the ambient music adding an almost sonar like pinging to the atmospheric soundtrack; after-images appear and glow as the colours fade, transcending the solidity of the ever-changing single pixel of colour taken through the block of video time. The pyrotechnics of the other screens are balanced by the colours/intensities/music of this central panel.

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Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection' exhibition installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

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Intersection installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

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The installation reminds me of a folded out five-panel religious altarpiece form of the 15th century. The figures, shadows and lines of the outer videos surround the pulsing heart of the central panel that, for me, took on an almost transcendent spirituality (especially when you understand the transcendence of time and space that is being achieved and how that relates to your own path in life). If you stand very still against the far wall of the gallery and look at all five videos at the same time the central panel achieves the ‘Intersection’ that Daniel Crooks is imagining. Subtle, profound and intelligent the viewer is invited to spend time, no, to transcend time in the company of this work and that is a major achievement: to reveal certain truths about our existence in these moments of time, to inhabit the space between breath – no time, no space.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm
Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz 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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