Posts Tagged ‘Arc One Gallery

12
Jun
11

Review: ‘Trace’ by Murray Fredericks at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th May – 18th June 2011

 

Murray Fredericks. 'Salt 271' 2011

 

Murray Fredericks (Australian, b. 1970)
Salt 271
2011
150 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

 

 

“Photographers tell me what I already know. The recognition of the beautiful, bizarre, or boring (the three photographic B’s) is not the problem. You would have to be a refrigerator not to be moved by the beauty of Yosemite. The problem is to deal with one’s total experience, emotionally as well as visually. Photographers should tell me what I don’t know.”

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Duane Michals Real Dreams1

 

“While we cannot describe its appearance (the equivalent), we can define its function. When a photograph functions as an Equivalent we can say that at that moment, and for that person the photograph acts as a symbol or plays the role of a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject photographed.”

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Minor White

 

 

Fredericks new infrared panoramic works show the strength of nature at it’s finest (9 out of 10 to nature especially when see through this type of filtration), excellent technical skills and good printing somehow any revelation of spirit in the sublime has been lost in these photographs. The photographer does not take me anywhere, there is no new space to step into, another view of the world that I want to spend time with. The relationship between the two series is also nebulous, the critical ice/fire space between the works adding little frisson to the exhibition.

I ask: Is it sufficient to use a digital scientific infrared back, if for no other reason that it is there? Is it sufficient to know that these climatic conditions take place in the same area each day, at the same time, place the camera down and just capture the scene? Is there really a decisive moment in these photographs, a poetic insight, or is this just what was, literally, hanging around so to speak?

The answer to all three questions I leave up to the reader.

Personally, I need photography to push the boundaries of elusiveness through an understanding in revelation, not just through an understanding of space and form, light and colour. I believe that conventional patterns of perception are there to be broken in ways that disrupt the technologies of the self – the self-regulating of our senses, the conventions of cultural capital – but too what do we open ourselves up to? As Minor White says: ‘The sound of one hand clapping’.

While the photographs have the weight of serious equipment and professional acumen behind them after the initial awe on viewing they fall to earth, like the rainstorms they portray, a little flat. As with my earlier review of Salt they seem to be more about the photographer than any revelation of the thing being photographed. Duane Michals observes that, “The best artists give themselves in their work” but this giving is ego-less, the dropping away of the bells and whistles to let an’other’ emerge: in this sense I do not feel the total experience, emotionally as well as visually. Paul Strand said that it took him 10 years to start to become an artist, to let go of ego in his work; paradoxically after this the work became more his own.

For me, these photographs never become a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject being photographed.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Michals, Duane. Real Dreams 1976 [Online] Cited 08/06/2011, on longer available online.

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Many thankx to Angela Connor for her help and to 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.

 

Murray Fredericks. 'Salt 273' 2011

 

Murray Fredericks (Australian, b. 1970)
Salt 273
2011
150 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

 

Murray Fredericks. 'Hector 10' 2011

 

Murray Fredericks (Australian, b. 1970)
Hector 10
2011
220 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

 

Murray Fredericks. 'Hector 11' 2011

 

Murray Fredericks (Australian, b. 1970)
Hector 11
2011
204 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

 

 

Salt began in 2003 and is a series of photographs of vast empty landscapes. Each image in the series is connected by the placement of the horizon running across the lower third of the frame. The horizon is the only referential form, breaking the void and providing the viewer with an element that paradoxically ‘defines’ the space. These new works add another dimension to Salt, with the water from last year’s rains now creating scenes diametrically opposed to the work occupying the adjacent walls as Hector.

Hector draws its title from an affectionately name atmospheric phenomenon that produces some of the world’s biggest thunderstorms. These new black and white works employ Murray’s methodical consistency of composition with distinctly different outcomes to the Zen-like vistas of Salt. In these works the expanse of the storm is consciously contained and forced into a barometric battle with the invisible air at its limits for the place of subject within the photograph…

By juxtaposing these series, each viewer is at once placed outside the containers which harbour these landscapes of remote territories – one calm and one facing the eye of the storm – and at the same time place in the centre of Murray’s minimal, ethereal representations of these places. In this way we can trace his exploration into these subjects – capturing the moment is our witness to a reverence to land and country.

Text from Arc One Gallery

 

Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851) 'Valley of Aosta: Snowstorm, Avalanche, and Thunderstorm' 1836/37

 

Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851)
Valley of Aosta: Snowstorm, Avalanche, and Thunderstorm
1836/37
Oil on canvas
36 1/4 x 48 in. (92.2 x 123 cm)
The Art Institute of Chicago: Frederick T. Haskell Collection

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tues – Sat 11 am – 5 pm

Arc One Gallery website

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12
Apr
11

Review: ‘In Spates’ by Sam Shmith at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th March – 23rd April 2011

 

Sam Shmith. 'Untitled (In Spates 2)' 2011

 

Sam Shmith (Australian, b. 1980 London)
Untitled (In Spates 2)
2011
125 x 75 cm
Pigment print on archival rag

 

 

The Digital Punctum

Spate, definition: A sudden flood, rush, or outpouring

This is a visually strong body of work by Sam Shmith that thematically hangs together beautifully in the Arc One Gallery space. The mystery, the sublime and the journey are well handled by the artist. As a spectral ‘body’ the photographs work together to create a new form of hallucination, one that haunts and perturbs the mind, like a disturbing psychological thriller a la David Lynchian ‘Twin Peaks’. The work, as a whole, becomes a meta-narrative and as Shmith develops as an artist, they seem to me like work that has journeyed to the point of departure. The viewer is (not really) flying, (not really) floating above the clouds observing the meta-narrative, creating a visual memory of things. Spectral luminescences, not-quite-right perspectives, the photograph as temporal hallucination.

Shmith’s photographs are constructed from “30-40 photographs per pictorial narrative” taken during the day and then digitally darkened: the clouds from Queensland, the cities from here, the cars from there. To be honest the clouds and cities could be from anywhere they are just part of the process. Shmith’s technique is interesting to know and then is quickly forgotten when looking at the photographs – like reading, it does not become the meaning (just a layer) of the work. The images, when constructed (however!) take me to other spaces and memories, opening up new vistas in my imagination.

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Shmith’s series acts as a punctum, working to create an unitary impression on the mind that pricks my consciousness. The whole work becomes punctum. This is a very interesting and powerful proposition.

The punctum, as argued by Barthes in Camera Lucida, relies on the QUESTION OF INTENTIONALITY – the detail that pricks and wounds is an unconscious act on the part of the photographer – not one of intention. It cannot be perceived by the photographer or indeed anyone else in the present. In other words, when the photographer photographs the total object, he cannot not not photograph the part object, which is what the punctum is:

“Hence the detail which interests me is not, or a least not strictly, intentional, and probably must not be so; it occurs in the field of the photographer thing like a supplement that is at once inevitable and graceful; it does not necessarily attest to the photographer’s art; it says only that the photographer was there, or else, still more simply, that he could not not photograph the partial object at the same time as the total object … The photographer’s “second sight” does not consist in “seeing” but in being there. And above all, imitating Orpheus, he must not turn back to look at what he is leading – what he is giving to me!” (CL 47/CC 79-80)

As Michael Fried observes in his analysis of Camera Lucida, the punctum is “antitheatrical” in the sense that we see it for ourselves and are not shown it by the photographer: it is not consciously constructed by the photographer but unconsciously captured as part of the total object:

“As Fried has argued, the experience of the punctum lives or dies for Barthes according to the absence of presence of intentionality on the part of the photographer; if there is visible intention, there is no punctum. That the punctum can exist only in the absence of intention is consistent, Fried claims, with his distinction between “seeing” (understood positively as antitheatrical) and “being shown” (understood negatively as theatrical). The possibility of the punctum is cancelled if bound to the photographer’s intention – if we are shown what can only be seen. As Fried states: “The punctum, we might say, is seen by Barthes but not because it has been shown to him by the photographer, for whom it does not exist; as Barthes recognizes, ‘it occurs [only] in the photographic field of the photographed thing,’ which is to say that it is not a pure artefact of the photographic event.”1

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This changes in digital photography, especially with photographs such as Shmith’s constructed from 30-40 photographs. Here the construction can only be intentional (or can it?), dissolving the relation between referent and photograph, the unseen nature of punctum and the ability to not not photograph the part object:

“Fried mentions the subject I have in mind when he says digital photographs undermine the condition of the punctum by making it impossible that “a partial object in the photograph that might otherwise prick or wound me may never have been part of a total object, which itself may be a digital construction” (Michael Fried, “Barthes’s Punctum,” Critical Inquiry 31, Spring 2005, p.563). In the sentence just preceding that, Fried notes that digitalization “threatens to dissolve the ‘adherence’ of the referent to the photograph,” thus ending the fundamental claim that “the photographer could not not photograph the partial object at the same time as the total object.”2

But the digital punctum still exists. Shmith’s work is evidence of this. It exists in the mind of the artist and viewer, external to rather than strictly “in” or “of” the image:

“Curiously, however, Barthes does claim in Camera Lucida that the punctum may also be of the mind, or at the level of remembrance, rather than strictly “in” or “of” the image: “…the punctum (is) revealed only after the fact, when the photograph is no longer in front of me and I think back on it. I may know better a photograph I remember than a photograph I am looking at, as if direct vision oriented its language wrongly, engaging it in an effort of description which will always miss its point of effect, the punctum” (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 53.) Indeed, the punctum is a most difficult thing to pin down, or, should one say, to prick. Fried recognizes the truly aporetic [characterised by an irresolvable internal contradiction or logical disjunction] nature of the punctum when he points to certain affinities between the literalist work of the Minimalists and the punctum, whereby the Minimalists understood the relationship between the literalist work and the beholder as ’emphatically not determined by the work itself’, suggesting that meaning in literalism was essentially indeterminate.”3

As James Elkins has observed, the punctum, or the image’s antitheatricality, is not necessarily threatened by digitalisation either through the detaching of the referent from the photograph or through the detaching of the part object from the full object within the image itself.

“The presence and efficaciousness of the part object are independent of digitalisation because the concept of the part object arises from a certain understanding of the internal structure of pictures and objects. Part objects can be found as readily in photographs of galaxies, which are assembled from layers of cleaned and enhanced digital images, as in the background of Wessing’s Nicaragua. Nor does the detachment of the photograph from its referent threaten the operation of the punctum because photographs with subjects that are wholly digitally constructed can be understood as having overlooked elements waiting to be discovered by each viewer.”4

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My belief is that the digital photographer can evidence punctum in the construction of image through an anticipation of it’s affect – either consciously or unconsciously. Not through the ‘placement’ inside disparate texts but a holistic embedding through intertextuality. The punctum becomes the (non)intentional ground of discovery – the part part object if you like – the prick among many photographs now created as one,
in this case 30-40 turned into one pictorial narrative. The punctum does not have to be part of a total object and digitalisation does not undermine the punctum; it may even enhance it so that, in this case, the whole series becomes punctum.

Shmith’s series and individual photographs within the series work best when the artist lets go of his consciousness and lets the ‘thing itself’ emerge, like a Japanese haiku poem. While consciously constructed by the artist the haiku takes on a life and meaning of it’s own outside the confines of intentionality.

“The artist can proffer a ‘releasement toward things’ (Heidegger, Martin. Discourse on Thinking. New York: Harper & Row, 1966, pp. 55-6), a coexistence between a conscious and unconscious way of perceiving which sustains the mystery of the object confusing the distinction between real time and sensual time, between inside and outside, input and output becoming neither here nor there. The mystery of the image is not to be found in its emasculation (in the sense of it’s deprivation of vigour) but by being attentive to the dropping a way of awareness, of memory, imagination, and the fixed gaze of desire through the glimpsing of a coexistence between a conscious and unconscious way of perceiving, a ‘releasement towards things’ which enables the seeing of the ‘Thing Itself’.”5

While Shmith’s series works as a whole and there are some wonderful individual images occasionally the artist has become too conscious of the punctum, the marks he intentionally makes. There are too many planes in clouds, the marking of these planes loosing their aura of (in)significance. They should be discovered afresh, “overlooked elements waiting to be discovered by each viewer,” not intentionally placed and shown by the artist. The series needed other themes embedded within them to allow the viewer to discover, to journey – more! As I said in the opening paragraph the photographs seems to me like work that has journeyed to the point of departure.

And what an exciting departure it is, for what happens next is in his, and our, imagination.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Fried, Michael. “Barthes’s Punctum,” in Critical Inquiry 31, Spring 2005 quoted in Hughes, Gordon. “Camera Lucida, Circa 1980,” in Batchen, Geoffrey (ed.,). Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009
  2. Elkins, James. “What Do We Want Photography To Be?” in Batchen, Geoffrey (ed.,). Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009, pp. 176-177
  3. Haraldsson, Arni. “Fried’s Turn,” on Fillip website [Online] Cited 12-04-2011. fillip.ca/content/frieds-turn
  4. Elkins, Op. cit.
  5. Bunyan, Marcus. “Spaces That Matter: Awareness and Entropia in the Imaging of Place,” 2002, on the Marcus Bunyan: Image Maker website [Online] Cited 12-04-2011.
    www.marcusbunyan.com/papers_d.html

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Many thankx to Angela Connor for her help and to Arc One 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.

 

 

Sam Shmith. 'Untitled (In Spates 14)' 2011

 

Sam Shmith (Australian, b. 1980 London)
Untitled (In Spates 14)
2011
50 x 30 cm
Pigment print on archival rag

 

 

Sam Shmith’s photographs resemble the opening scenes of a Hollywood blockbuster. By harnessing our collective imagination, each image is charged with mystery and intrigue, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusions about the narrative embedded in each of the works.

Digitally layered from an image bank of over 60,000 self-shot images, Sam’s twenty-two new landscapes choreograph a series of temporal clues into single images that simultaneously obliterate all references to a particular locality. His works are a hybrid of images from his personal archives, composited so that each journey is no longer distinct, but melded to create their single, artificial realities.

Influenced by François Truffaut’s film Day for Night (1973), the works are shot during the day, and meticulously transformed into twilight scenes. Reworking and repeating particular motifs, these elaborately constructed works are broken up into four distinct groups – sky, mountains, cities and roads. The centre of the frame concentrates an immediate human intervention enveloped by mountainous panoramas, vaporous clouds or close foilage to create a murky tension between the encompassing landscape and specks of synthetic light. Intuitively composited from between 30 to 40 photographs per pictorial narrative, the works are shot from cars, aeroplanes and hot air balloons producing mood scenes that have athematic unity.

Through his methods Sam fashions an unconventional approach to landscape photography. Citing the melancholic landscapes of Bill Henson, the suburban malaise of Gregory Crewdson and drawing motivation from Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents, In Spates communicates the artist’s devotional dedication to the emotive importance of the genre. Though isolation appears as a common theme in his work, Sam’s observations should also be considered as an arbitrary moment viewed from afar, evoking a feeling of alienation and disengagement between the environment and ourselves.

Text from the Arc One Gallery press release

 

Sam Shmith. 'Untitled (In Spates 5)' 2011

 

Sam Shmith (Australian, b. 1980 London)
Untitled (In Spates 5)
2011
125 x 75 cm
Pigment print on archival rag

 

Sam Shmith. 'Untitled (In Spates 21)' 2011

 

Sam Shmith (Australian, b. 1980 London)
Untitled (In Spates 21)
2011
125 x 75 cm
Pigment print on archival rag

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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17
Mar
11

Review: ‘Navigating Widely’ by Vanila Netto at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 1st March – 26th March 2011

 

Vanila Netto. 'Pole Relief' 2011

 

Vanila Netto (Brazil, b. 1963)
Pole Relief
2011
50 x 50 cm
Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper

 

 

“There’s an odd diaristic quality to Vanila Netto’s photographic, still life, video and neon works. What at first might seem like a hotchpotch of gestures, assemblages and moments reveals a lateral narrative – still points on a fluid map.”

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Dan Rule in The Age newspaper

 

 

Netto’s work moves from one place to another, Navigating Widely. Some elements are more successful than others. The grainy colour field photographs of extruded objects (foam packing, the detritus of cardboard) fail to impress lacking the fidelity that the subject matter requires and the ability to integrate successfully into the lateral narrative. The Super 8 film transferred to digital video It is time to bridge (2011) is excellent, evoking as it does the utopian ideals of industrialisation, planes and rockets becoming “permanent and sedentary residents” of an abandoned dream park. The diptych neon installation Elation, Deflation (Inner Tubes) (2011) is also effective in evoking the interface between human and machine.

The best work in the exhibition is the series of small square format, analogue colour photographs that have been printed digitally (see photographs below). There is a lovely spatial resistance in these photographs – hints of colour, slices, markings on walls, the collision of opposites – that elevates them above the rest of the exhibition. In these photographs, the punctum pricks our consciousness but is it enough? Although these are interesting photographs, are they photographs that you would remember in a week, a month or a year? More was needed to hang your hat on, perhaps an ambiguous sense of Time that stretched the frame of reference.

Overall, the hotchpotch of gestures, assemblages and moments needed a more substantial grounding and, for me, became points on a confused map: a collection of complexities, both global and personal, that needed a focusing of rationale and conceptualisation. Less is more! Drawing what are some good ideas and threads together in a simplified form would add to the strength of the work for there is talent here. Perhaps concentrating on one idea and exploring it more fully would be a step along the path. I look forward to the next literation.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thanxk to Angela Connor for her help and to Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photograph for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Vanila Netto. 'Colossus' 2011

 

Vanila Netto (Brazil, b. 1963)
Colossus
2011
100 x 100 cm
Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper

 

Vanila Netto. 'Mir' 2011

 

Vanila Netto (Brazil, b. 1963)
Mir
2011
50 x 50 cm
Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper

 

Vanila Netto. 'Wheeling Consorts' 2011

 

Vanila Netto (Brazil, b. 1963)
Wheeling Consorts
2011
50 x 50 cm
Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper

 

Vanila Netto. 'Solaris' 2011

 

Vanila Netto (Brazil, b. 1963)
Solaris
2011
50 x 50 cm
Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper

 

Vanila Netto. 'Air Buzzing' 2011

 

Vanila Netto (Brazil, b. 1963)
Air Buzzing
2011
50 x 50 cm
Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5 pm

Arc One Gallery website

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04
Sep
10

Review: Pat Brassington at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th August – 18th September 2010

 

Pat Brassington. 'Camouflage' 2010

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Camouflage
2010

 

 

I have a critically 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.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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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.

 

 

Pat Brassington. 'Ocean Child' 2009

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Ocean Child
2009

 

Pat Brassington. 'Like A Bird Now' 2010

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Like A Bird Now
2010

 

Pat Brassington. 'In Lieu' 2010

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
In Lieu
2010

 

Pat Brassington. 'Sensors' 2010

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Sensors
2010

 

Pat Brassington. 'Radar' 2009

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Radar
2009

 

Pat Brassington. 'Double Vision' 2010

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Double Vision
2010

 

Pat Brassington. 'By the Way' 2010

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
By the Way
2010

 

Pat Brassington. 'Stare' 2009

 

Pat Brassington (Australian, b. 1942)
Stare
2009

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm

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16
Aug
10

Review: ‘How Nature Speaks’ at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 27th July – 21st August, 2010

Artists: Justine Khamara, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Imants Tillers, Sam Shmith, Janet Laurence, Murray Fredericks and Huang Xu

 

 

Janet Laurence. 'Carbon Vein' 2008

 

Janet Laurence (Australian, b. 1947)
Carbon Vein
2008
Duraclear, oil pigment on acrylic
235 x 100 cm

 

 

This is an excellent group exhibition at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne. Together the works form a satisfying whole; individually there are some visually exciting works. There are two insightful paintings by Imants Tillers, Nature Speaks: BP (2009) and Blossoming 21 (2010), a digitally constructed landscape by Sam Shmith, Untitled (Passenger)’ (2010) that the online image doesn’t really do justice to, a large photographic landscape of a storm over Lake Eyre Salt 304 (2009, see image below) by Murray Fredericks and two layered transcapes by Janet Laurence (see image below) that just confirm the talent of this artist after the exciting installation of her work at the Melbourne Art Fair (I call them transcapes because they seem to inhabit a layered in-between space existing between dream and reality).

For me the three outstanding works were the large horizontal photograph Hair No.2 (2009) by Huang Xu, in which hair hangs like a delicate cloud on a dark background and his photograph Flower No. 1 (2008, see below) in which the white petals of the chrysanthemum, symbol of death or lamentation and grief in some Western and Eastern countries in the world, seemingly turn to marble in the photographic print (you can see this online in the enlarged version of the image below). What a magnificent photograph this is – make sure that you don’t miss it because it is tucked away in the small gallery off the main gallery in the Arc One space. The third outstanding work is the sculpture you are a glorious, desolate prospect (2010) by Justine Khamara (see photographs below), a glorious magical mountain, twinkling in the light, all shards of reflectiveness, cool as ice. I would have loved to have seen this work without it’s protective case – in one sense the case works conceptually to trap the speaking of the mountain but in another it blocks access to the language of this work, the reflection of the light of the gallery, the light of the world bouncing off it’s surfaces.

This is not, of course, how nature speaks but how humans speak for nature – through image-ining and seeking to control and order the elemental forces that surround us. This construction of reality has a long tradition in the history of art, the mediation of the world through the hands, eyes and mind of the artist offering to the viewer, for however brief a moment, that sense of awakening to the possibilities of the world in which we all live.

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Many thankx to Angela 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.

 

Justine Khamara. 'you are a glorious, desolate prospect' 2010

 

Justine Khamara (Australian, b. 1971)
you are a glorious, desolate prospect
2010
Mirror, perspex, plinth
80 x 186 cm

 

Justine Khamara. 'you are a glorious, desolate prospect' 2010 (detail)

 

Justine Khamara (Australian, b. 1971)
you are a glorious, desolate prospect (detail)
2010
Mirror, perspex, plinth
80 x 186 cm

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'Galatea Point' 2005

 

Lyndell Brown (Australian, b. 1961) and Charles Green (Australian)
Galatea Point
2005
Digital photograph on duraclear film edition of 5
112 x 112 cm

 

Huang Xu, 'Flower No.1' 2008

 

Huang Xu (Chinese, b. 1968)
Flower No.1
2008
Type C photograph
120 x 120 cm

 

Murray Fredericks. 'Salt 304' 2009

 

Murray Fredericks (Australian, b. 1970)
Salt 304
2009
Pigment print on cotton rag
244 x 88 cm

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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13
Jul
10

Review: ‘The Way Things Appear’ by Anne Zahalka at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th June – 24th July, 2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957) 'National Portrait Gallery #1' 1992/2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957)
National Portrait Gallery #1
1992/2010

 

 

A patchy exhibition by Anne Zahalka at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne. I can’t help feeling that we have seen this before, and done better, in the work of Candida Hofer and Thomas Struth.

Although the square photographs are taken by a medium format film camera (a Hasselblad I suspect) and printed as C-type prints (hence the lush colours) because the camera was handheld this means that, in some of the photographs, little is actually in focus. While this may add to the immediacy of the images, like a quick snapshot as Zahalka prowls the galleries, it detracts from the clarity of the previsualisation of the artist whilst also detracting from the visual depth of field that the subject matter needed.

On the positive side there are some lovely spatial relationships between the figures in the paintings and the busts on the pedestals: in one particular photograph (National Portrait Gallery #2, 2010) there is an almost symbiotic relationship between the man in the painting at left, the bust of the man on the pedestal and the man at the very left in the right hand painting. This arrangement is like a triple portrait of the same person. A similar understanding of the spatial relationships within the image frame can be seen in National Portrait Gallery #1 (see photograph above), one of the more successful photographs in the series, with it’s wonderful red flocked wallpaper and gilt frames.

On the right hand side of the gallery there are numerous vertical colour photographs taken on a 35mm camera that feature the back of people looking at a work of art (see National Gallery of Australia, Masters of Paris #5, 2010). These are basic photographs that seek to conceptualise the act of looking at art as a tourist industry to no great affect or insight into the condition being examined.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Angela Connor and Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photograph for a larger version of the image.

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957) 'National Portrait Gallery #5' 2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957)
National Portrait Gallery #5
2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957) 'National Portrait Gallery #3' 1992/2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957)
National Portrait Gallery #3
1992/2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957) 'Prado Museum, Madrid' 1992/2010

 

Anne Zahalka (Australian, b. 1957)
Prado Museum, Madrid
1992/2010

 

 

Arc One Gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000
Phone: +61 3 9650 0589

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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13
Jun
10

Review: ‘Cloud’ by Guan Wei at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 1st June – 29th June 2010

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957) 'Buddha's hand' 2010

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957)
Buddha’s hand
2010

 

 

The exhibition Cloud by Australian artist Guan Wei at Arc One Gallery in Melbourne contains two bodies of work that are outstanding: the series of paintings on paper titled Buddha’s Hand and the series of five figurative sculptures titled Cloud. Each body of work compliments and informs the other.

The small Buddha’s Hand paintings (see below) are the most delicate of creatures – sensual, poetic almost fetishistic in their composition and utterly beguiling in their beauty. Referencing the history of cave paintings of the Buddha, Wei updates the ancient allegories expressing his message of harmony and leisure, identity and place through visual symbolic representation. These works are profoundly moving, the figurative compositions balanced masterfully through colour, shape and form, studded with the punctum of red bindi-like energy centres arising from the faceless yogic figures.

Sitting on white pedestals and positioned close to the Buddha’s Hand paintings in the gallery are the series of five Cloud figures (see below). Made of bronze that has been spray painted white these are wonderful sculptures, full of delicious humour and vibrancy. There is a sensuality and delicacy about the figures that is emphasised by their snowy whiteness, a whiteness that subverts the tactility, colour and weight that one usually associates with the metal bronze. Here the figure has, variously, it’s head in the clouds while pensively crossing arms; bearing the weight of the world on the back while the vacant mouth is open; preparing to throw the cloud as Zeus would a thunderbolt; reclining while balancing the cloud on one foot and with one foot stuck in the earth that is cloud. The cloud becomes a metaphor for thought and action in the world, acting on the world. In these sculptures there is no creed nor race, no ideology or nation and I believe that Wei attains his stated aim to redefine our relationship with one another and nature by transcending both. I am not alone in liking these sculptures – they have proved very popular and all five sculptures in editions of five have already sold out!

Other work in the exhibition is more prosaic – a multi-panelled screen, the On Cloud and Zodiac series never seem to breathe the same rarefied air as the above two bodies of work. They are disappointments that only serve to illuminate how brilliant holding the Buddha’s hand and living your life with your head in the clouds can be.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Angela Connor and Arc One Gallery for allowing me to reproduce the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957) 'Buddha's hand' 2010

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957)
Buddha’s hand
2010

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957) 'Buddha's hand' 2010

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957)
Buddha’s hand
2010

 

 

“I hope that we will be able to transcend the restrictions imposed on us by such notions as nation, ethnicity, ideology, cultural and history, and redefine our relationship with one another and nature.”

.
Guan Wei

 

 

Guan Wei is an adept storyteller who masterfully engages his audiences. Retaining the humour, wisdom and cross-cultural knowledge that have become characteristics of his ongoing oeuvre, his work breathes an awareness of our current social and environmental dilemmas exploring ideas of immigration, colonisation, identity politics and cultural tolerance.

Flirtatious and aesthetically whimsical, Guan Wei’s works are instantly recognisable. In this latest exhibition, Cloud, Guan Wei fuses sculpture, drawings and paintings to form what is part of his most beguiling trademark – ‘the art of idleness’. For the first time since returning to China, he will present new sculptures that employ his ongoing preoccupation with the figure and the figure in relation to the natural form. These sculptures are Guan Wei’s personal visual symbols of harmony and leisure. They form the thread for the four series of works in this exhibition.

During the past fifteen years, Guan Wei has help change the identity of Australian Art. He draws on his own experience as a Chinese national who migrated to Australia from China in the period following the Tiananmen Square massacre (1989). Guan Wei has spent twenty years living and working as an artist raising the awareness of Australia being a multicultural country. He has had over 40 solo exhibitions, been the recipient of numerous awards and included in every major collection. In 2009, Guan Wei was selected for the prestigious Clemenger Contemporary Art Award at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Press release from the Arc One Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/06/2010 no longer available online

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957) 'Cloud No.4' 2009

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957)
Cloud No.4
2009
Bronze statue
edition of 5
39 x 30 x 25cm

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957) 'Cloud No.5' 2009

 

Guan Wei (China, b. 1957)
Cloud No.5
2009
Bronze statue
edition of 5
47 x 35 x 35cm

 

 

Arc One Gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000
Phone: +61 3 9650 0589

Opening hours:
Tue-Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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16
Jul
09

Review: Guo Jian paintings at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th June – 25th July 2009

 

Guo Jian. 'No.c' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.c
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

 

This exhibition of eight new paintings and one older work by Chinese artist Guo Jian presented at Arc One Gallery in Melbourne is, with the exception of one outstanding painting, a disappointment. The new work addresses, variously, themes of consumerism, stardom, sex appeal, the military and Chinese culture. Using old photographs as reference and inserting the body and face of the artist into the canvases, Jian examines the paradoxes that exist between Western/American and Chinese culture to limited effect.

Using a restricted colour palette in each painting Jian’s ‘mise en scène’ places American soldiers and babes wearing bikinis of distorted American flags with the artist as lone Chinese soldier – his face pulled into focus while the other figures almost become cut-outs with the overlay of a “blur filter” softening their features. In another set piece Untitled 3 (2009) a seductive woman with flaming red hair and half open jacket holds a bottle of Chloe perfume in her hand while behind Chinese female military dancers brandish swords and red flags. In No.g (2009) two soldiers with guns propped behind them read contrasting books – one the ‘Little Red Book’ and the other ‘A Big Naughty Girly Magazine’. Marilyn and Madonna feature heavily, pastiches in a built environment – all pink and fleshy with a silver heart (perhaps it should have been a Purple Heart).

The iconography in these staged ‘tableaux vivants’ is a one shot idea repeated in all eight paintings. The themes seem hackneyed, their language a bricolage of ironic archetypes that don’t have anything new to say about the subject matter but repeat things we know already: vis a vis that Chinese society is struggling to cope with the burden of becoming a consumer culture. On reflection, the new paintings have not impinged on my consciousness – always a sign whether the work really has made a connection. However, the single work from 2003 is a different beast.

The Training from the series The Day Before I Went Away (2003) is a hypnotic, mesmerising and powerful work, lurid even, with it’s hyper-real colours and maniacal faces, eyes rolling in the back of heads, barring of teeth, the hand over the mouth, the upraised hand, the glistening white of the blade – oh the lust for blood!

This painting is so evocative it shames the new work by comparison – you think about this work, you remember it!

Here is the passion and insightfulness of the artist. Danger and terror grab you and shake you and force you to think about the human condition. This is what I want art to do in whatever way it can – subtly, quietly, psychologically, forcefully. Great art challenges us to look, feel and think. Unfortunately the new work, while clever on a superficial level, fails to deliver.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog.

.
Many thankx to the Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting.

 

Guo Jian. 'No.d' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.d
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

 

“This series is about looking at the persuasion or morale boosting efforts for soldiers from another perspective. I considered how starlets and celebrities are deployed in the West – often not dissimilarly to the way Chinese Entertainment Soldiers are used to influence and motivate in my part of the world.” ~ Guo Jian

 

Guo Jian. 'No.f' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.f
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

Guo Jian. 'No.g' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.g
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

Guo Jian. 'Untitled 3' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
Untitled 3
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

 

Born in China in 1963, Jian was raised in a controlled political environment. He served over three years in the Peoples Liberation Army and bore witness to the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where he assisted carrying the wounded to the hospital.

Jian’s personal atlas of history continues to feed his visual commentary. His voice is both satirical and erotic, challenging and confronting. He plays with irony and foreplay to exploit and raise potent questions surrounding propaganda and manipulation.

“As I have grown older, I have realised that all of the education I have received is rarely practical in real life. Reality and education are conflicting. The way in which you inherently view the world is influenced by education which is the perspectives of others. Our surrounding environment defines our perception of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘enemy’ and ‘friend’, ‘them’ and ‘us’. But, if you dare to open your eyes and liberate your mind, you will find that the world is not exactly the way you have been told. Put your feet into someone else’s shoes to think about the world and your own life differently. For me, if the surroundings change, are combined, are old or new, it doesn’t matter. My life is defined relative to my self-experience and the things I have heard or seen. From this perspective, I have discovered the freedom to reopen my eyes to a new world and to new possibilities.”

Guo Jian

Text from the press release on the Arc One Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/07/2009

 

Guo Jian. 'The Training' from the series 'Te Day Before I Went Away' 2003

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
The Training from the series The Day Before I Went Away
2003

 

 

Arc One Gallery
45 Flindes Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 5pm

Arc One 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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