Posts Tagged ‘Arts Project Australia

05
Jul
14

Review: ‘Polaroid Project’ at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 14th June – 12th July 2014

 

Polaroid Project is a vaguely disappointing exhibition at Arts Project Australia. The intentions and concept are good but the work sits rather silently and uneasily in the gallery space.

Constable’s anthropomorphised cameras are as lumpy and charismatic as ever, but the black colour does them no favours. Instead of transporting the viewer they become rather heavy and dull. They loose most of their transformative appeal.

Atkins’ boxes, “readymade abstractions” – his first attempt at sculpture – needed to be pushed further. While his painting practice uses distinctive graphic, jazz and minimalist colour forms, what makes them so watchable and mesmerising is that the eye has to attempt to go beyond the two-dimensional plane, to interrogate the juxtaposition of shape and space. The MDF cubes hand painted with auto acrylic paint deny the eye the ability to probe beyond the surface because the surface is already three dimensional. These boxes, these gestures of appropriation (devoid of text) just become perfect simulacra and, in reality, they really don’t take you anywhere.

Here’s an idea (or two): as Constable has had to take the camera out of the boxes – interior becomes exterior – what about carving into the MDF boxes in a series of steps that move inwards – exterior becomes interior! The colours would then move away from you. Not in all of them, just a few. It would certainly add more life and movement to the ensemble. And then, for good measure, paint a couple of the walls in the colours of the boxes – the whole goddam wall. THEN, place the cameras and cubes against this neon pop surface and see what happens… WHAM! KAPOW! Now we have something to think about, not this side by side act of representation that is really rather awkward.

Just me rabbiting on with some ideas, but as I said at the beginning, the whole exhibition is too silent and deadly. The whole shebang needs a good jolt of electricity to get the juices flowing. After all these ARE pop colours and these ARE Polaroid cameras – which produced the most popular form of instantaneous photograph, and representation in a physical form, so far invented. Ah, that speed and velocity of transmission.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

 

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Polaroid camera inspiration

 

 

“Polaroid Project is an in-depth collaborative project between celebrated Melbourne based artists Alan Constable and Peter Atkins examines both artists shared interests in the reinterpretation of existing forms, offering the viewer an opportunity to experience the complimentary ways these diverse artists view their distinctive worlds. This significant exhibition sees both artists responding to a collection of twelve original Polaroid cameras and packaging manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Alan Constable (Arts Project Australia, Melbourne)

Alan Constable is both a painter and a ceramicist who has exhibited in Australian and International galleries for over 25 years and has been a finalist in a number of significant contemporary art awards. Based on imagery from newspapers and magazines, his recent paintings are notable for their vibrant kaleidoscopic effects and strong sense colour and patterning. Though Constable’s works are often centred on political events and global figures, his thematic concerns are frequently subjugated by the pure visual experience of colour and form. Despite the occasional gravity of his subject matter, there is a genuine sense of joy within Constable’s paintings.

Constable’s ceramic works reflect a life-long fascination with old cameras, which began with his making replicas from cardboard cereal boxes at the age of eight. The sculptures are lyrical interpretations of technical instruments, and the artist’s finger marks can be seen clearly on the clay surface like traces of humanity. In this way, Alan Constable cameras can be viewed as extensions of the body, as much as sculptural representations of an object. Alan Constable’s clay cameras were recently exhibited in Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria. All thirteen cameras displayed were subsequently acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria for their permanent collection.

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Peter Atkins (Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne)

Peter Atkins is a leading Australian contemporary artist and an important representative of Australian art in the International arena. Over the past twenty-five years he has exhibited in Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Mexico. His practice has centred around the appropriation and reinterpretation readymade abstract forms and patterns that are collected within his immediate environment, either within a local or international context. This material becomes the direct reference source for his work, providing tangible evidence to the viewer of his relationship and experience within the landscape. Particular interest is paid to the cultural associations of forms that have the capacity to trigger within the viewer, memory, nostalgia or a shared history of past experiences. Recent projects including ‘Disney Color Project’, ‘The Hume Highway Project’, ‘Monopoly Project’ and ‘In Transit’ all reference this collective cultural recall and shared experience.

Peter Atkins has held over 40 solo exhibitions with his survey exhibition titled Big Paintings 1990-2003 touring regional galleries during 2003-04. He has been represented in over fifty significant group exhibitions, including The Loti and Victor Smorgan Gift of Australian Contemporary Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Uncommon World: Aspects of Contemporary Australian Art and Home Sweet Home: Works from the Peter Fay Collection, both at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and more recently in the prestigious Clemenger Contemporary Art Award at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2009/2010. His work is represented in the collections of every major Australian State Gallery as well as prominent Institutional, Corporate and Private collections both Nationally and Internationally. In 2010 his solo exhibition for Tolarno Galleries at the Melbourne Art Fair titled Hume Highway Project was purchased for The Lyon Collection in Melbourne.”

Text from the Arts Project Australia website

 

Peter Atkins with Alan Constable in the Arts Project Australia Studio in Northcote

 

Peter Atkins with Alan Constable in the Arts Project Australia Studio in Northcote.

 

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Alan Constable creating one of the cameras for the Polaroid Project.

 

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Alan Constable work in progress at Arts Project Australia Studio in Northcote. The cameras are inspired by a collection of retro Polaroid cameras collected by Peter Atkins.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Polaroid Project' at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Polaroid Project' at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Polaroid Project at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

 

 

Two Takes On The Pop Object

“Polaroid Project, which brings together Peter Atkins’ re-creations of Polaroid camera packaging and Alan Constable’s versions of the cameras found within those boxes, demonstrates the continued relevance of how artists engage with the objects of consumer culture fifty years after the advent of Pop Art. At first glance, Peter Atkins and Alan Constable seem like unlikely collaborators. Atkins is a painter and Constable is best known as a sculptor, a maker of ceramic cameras. Atkins is invested in reproducing the clean lines and abstract, colourful design of the advertising industry in exacting detail. The lines of Constable’s cameras are never clean. His forms are inherently exaggerated, and the cameras themselves showcase the thumbing, handling, and kneading of the clay medium. If Atkins goes out of his way to convince us that his Polaroid box paintings-cum-sculptures share the near-seamlessness of the real thing, Constable seems to do just the opposite with his cameras. The latter are obviously NOT real cameras: their comic-book personalities, decidedly handmade disposition, their larger-than-life scale, and the fact that they wear their ceramic qualities so proudly (glazed in any number of colours) collectively proclaim their fiction. Despite the apparent disparity of the two artists, both rely exclusively on their own hands to create their work, even when that labour replicates the aesthetic of mechanical reproduction, in the case of Atkins. If we dig deep, we can ascertain a pronounced kinship shared by the two artists that dates back to early Pop in the United States – before the advent of Warhol’s screenprinting techniques that relied on the photograph. Both Atkins and Constable inhabit the handmade rather than the machine-produced realm of Pop, and signal to us that such strategies are still surprisingly timely today despite the digital and highly mediated culture we inhabit.

For nearly 20 years, Peter Atkins has been painting design forms on tarpaulin canvases (occasionally using other supports as well) appropriated from a range of sources including outdoor advertising, record albums, matchbooks, paperback books, product packaging, and street signage. Atkins reduces the essential forms of selected designs by deleting accompanying text and focusing completely on the graphic qualities of the image itself. Atkins has labelled his engagement with the graphic design of packaging and signage ‘readymade abstraction’ – utilising imagery that already exists in the world to transpose and distil into pared-down paintings. Steeped in the gesture of appropriation that has concerned artists for a century now (the readymade made its debut at the 1913 Armory Show when Marcel Duchamp displayed a porcelain urinal as a sculpture), Atkins has worked exclusively as a painter until recently.

Atkins has long been a collector of the objects on which he bases his paintings and the genesis of Polaroid Project firmly demonstrates this. Struck by the iconic graphic design of bright rainbow colour patterns on the original containers for Polaroid instant cameras, Atkins began collecting the camera boxes in earnest about three years ago (the original cameras were still inside the packaging). All of the packages and cameras date between 1969 and 1978; the colour spectrum/rainbow motif evident on the packages is not only indicative of graphic design of the period, but also alludes to the purported chromatic vibrancy of Polaroid film. Atkins knew he wanted to make a body of work using the boxes and was aware that he would be breaking new ground within the evolution of his practice by painting three-dimensionally. Atkins acknowledges that he first ignored what was inside the boxes he was collecting – the cameras themselves. Fetishising the veneer surrounding the product rather than the thing itself, Atkins almost forgot that the purpose of the packaging was to sell cameras. Halfway through the development of the project, Atkins began to marvel at the engineering elegance of the cameras and a light bulb went off in his head – the Arts Project Australia studio artist Alan Constable, recognised for his ceramic sculptures of cameras, would be an inspired collaborator for the project. If Atkins explores the visual language of how we are drawn to things, thereby making images designed for the masses his own, Constable’s skill lies in personalising what is inside the box, transforming a mass-produced consumer product into an idiosyncratic object.

Polaroid Project marks the first time Atkins has focused on replicating consumer packaging in 3D, creating what Donald Judd might have termed ‘specific objects’, art objects that incorporate aspects of painting and sculpture, but do not fit neatly into either category. As Atkins admits himself, his transformed Polaroid camera containers are difficult to categorise: Are they 3D paintings or sculptures? Similarly, they exist in the interstices of Pop and Minimalism, referencing images taken from advertisements, but eliminating descriptive text, distilling ads to abstraction. If it were not for Alan Constable’s cameras exhibited nearby, the viewer would most likely be unable to make the associative leap that these brightly coloured objects are in fact based on commercial packaging that housed and marketed cameras. In order to create boxes that appear as realistic as possible while still retaining proper rigidity as a support for a painting, Atkins used 6mm thick MDF board that he painstakingly sanded, infilling any gaps or surface blemishes with epoxy in order to simulate paper packing material as closely as possible. He then masked out the designs with tape and finally painted the Polaroid signature designs using carefully matched automobile spray paint. What looks machine-printed and fabricated is actually the product of artistic labour. Atkins’ boxes are the same size as the original packaging and are seemingly authentic in every way except for his decision not to reproduce text or photographic imagery, concentrating only on the colourful designs and the cubic format of the container.

Alan Constable’s glazed ceramic cameras lack precise lines and angles; their handmade wonkiness imbues them with a sentience, as if each sculpture is a character, a refugee from a cartoon narrative. If Philip Guston was a ceramicist, these are the kind of objects he would make. Constable has had a near life-long fascination with cameras. He made his first cameras from cardboard at the age of eight. The ceramic cameras have ranged from accordion-style devices to digital cameras to Polaroids, and all share the noticeable imprint of the artist’s hands and fingers, and quite often, an enlargement of scale compared to their real-world counterparts. Constable is legally blind and has pinhole vision so must work close-up during the creative process. For objects whose very existence are predicated on recording the visible, Constable’s cameras are created far more out of a sense of touch than sight. In Constable’s hands, cameras, which we usually associate with the optical, are transformed into the tactile.

Constable’s cameras are made by adding, subtracting, forming, and inscribing clay. A viewfinder or dial might be modelled separately from the camera body and then grafted on later and finally secured in the firing process. Viewfinders and lenses may be actual apertures or voids, but sometimes (as in the case of Constable’s copies of digital cameras) the display might feature an incised drawing of an imagined landscape, Constable’s take on trompe l’oeil realism. Constable also incises line work onto the camera’s surface to suggest dimension and detail. Constable’s cameras are structurally engineered from the inside out, containing internal chambers and walls to provide inherent stability, but also, perhaps, as a nod to speculative authenticity. Constable usually makes his cameras based on magazine advertisements; for Polaroid Project he had the rare opportunity of using real cameras as models for his sculptures.

Atkins is firmly situated within the handmade domain of the pop object/painting, as his renditions of Polaroid boxes are fabricated and painted only by him not by mechanical means, although the precise and seamless nature of his paint application replicates the look of commercial printing nearly exactly. While Alan Constable also relies on his hands in an endeavour to create a rendering of a commercial product, he does not in any way attempt to copy the Polaroid camera perfectly, or at least the results of his labour do not suggest a desire for verisimilitude. In a certain sense, Atkins plays Roy Lichtenstein to Constable’s Claes Oldenburg – two masters of early 1960s Pop. Lichtenstein made paintings of mass-produced printed imagery – notably comics – enlarging the image to reveal the building block of newsprint, the Ben Day dot. While Atkins does not necessarily play with scale the way Lichtenstein did, he shares with Lichtenstein a keen interest in exploring the imagery of popular culture, transposing it in paint to mimic commercial printing. In his installation The Store (1961), Claes Oldenburg riffed on the consumer products of the day creating handmade, cartoonish objects of exaggerated scale. While Constable forms his cameras out of clay, Oldenburg made his renditions of consumer goods from plaster-soaked muslin formed over wire frames, then painted in enamel – making no attempt to ape the real. Oldenburg’s objects have more in common with paintings than Constable’s cameras, but both amplify scale and instil an animated sensibility in the work, anthropomorphising objects. Lichtenstein and The Store-era Oldenburg represent the extremes of how Pop artists engaged with representation – mimicking commercial printing technology through exacting paintings, on the one hand, versus reproducing commercial goods through awkward handcraft on the other. The pairing of Atkins and Constable shows that the Lichtenstein/Oldenburg diametric is alive and well today and that artists continue to explore different registers of the real in depicting the pop object, relying solely on their own hands.”

© ALEX BAKER 2014
Director Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia USA

Reproduced with permission

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Square Shooter 2 #2' 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Square Shooter 2 #2 (installation view)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Box: 16.7 x 16.7 x 18.4 cm
Camera: 16 x 14 x 16 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Super Shooter' 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Super Shooter (installation view)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Box: 16 x 17.5 x 18 cm
Camera: 16 x 14 x 16 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Colorpack ll' 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Colorpack ll (installation view)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Box: 16.7 x 16.7 x 19.8 cm
Camera: 15.5 x 16 x 20 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Colorpack ll (detail)' 2014

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Colorpack ll' (detail) 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Colorpack ll (detail)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Camera: 15.5 x 16 x 20 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'The Clincher' (detail) 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
The Clincher (detail)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Camera: 17.5 x 18 x 18 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Colorpack 82' 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Colorpack 82 (catalogue view)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Box: 16.7 x 16.7 x 18.4 cm
Camera: 16.5 x 14.5 x 20 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Super Color Swinger' 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Super Color Swinger (catalogue view)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Box: 16.7 x 16.7 x 18.4 cm
Camera: 17 x 15 x 15 cm

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins. 'Square Shooter 2 (with flash)' 2014

 

Alan Constable & Peter Atkins
Square Shooter 2 (with flash) (catalogue view)
2014
Ceramic camera and auto acrylic on MDF
Box: 16.7 x 16.7 x 18.4 cm
Camera: 17 x 14 x 18 cm

 

 

Arts Project Australia
24 High Street
Northcote Victoria 3070
T: + 61 3 9482 4484

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday
 9am – 5pm
Saturday 
10am – 5pm

Arts Project Australia website

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30
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Alan Constable: Ten Cameras’ at South Willard, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 2nd June 2013
Curated by Ricky Swallow

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Wow it really happened! Congratulations to Alan Constable, Sim Lutin and Melissa Petty from Arts Project Australia and to Ricky Swallow for curating.

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Alan Constable. 'Red NEK SLR' 2011

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Alan Constable
Red NEK SLR
2011
Ceramic
5.5 x 12.25 x 4.75 inches
© Alan Constable

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“How would a comb that cannot untangle hair look? You can make the object dangerous, humorous, useless, sinister.”
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Christina Ramberg.

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Alan Constable’s cameras are real ‘things’; they command constant attention from their audience and from their lucky owners. The resemblance of these sculptures to cameras is a starting point more than an end point, in the same way a swelling foot as painted by Phillip Guston behaves unlike any sensible foot, or a collage of a doorway by James Castle exceeds the expectation its structural simplicity presents.

Constable’s sculpture makes malleable mischief of both the form and function of the camera. In his hands it becomes an anthropomorphic character with endless variations and possibility. Specific types are modeled in clay from magazine advertisements with apt abbreviation and gesture, then glazed and fired in solid, sometimes soupy colors that further activate their surfaces and transform their sober dispositions.

The glazed surfaces are embellished with details so specific and beautiful they necessitate a tactile engagement with the object. As ‘things’ they still buzz with the handling and energy Constable employs in their making. Dials formed separately and thumbed into position, viewfinder windows cut directly through surfaces together with an oversized scale give Constable’s cameras the feeling of buildings or vessels. Scribed lines articulate both panels and seams, skewed inscriptions indicate model and make: all this information registers with efficiency to produce compelling objects.

The basic slab built walls forming the camera’s body also conceal one of the most interesting elements about these sculptures – internal chambers and walls have been built during the early stages of the works. Such entombed detail points towards Constable’s dedication to conceive and map a complete object, a total exploration of his subject based on unique invention and interpretation.”
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Ricky Swallow, April 2013

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South Willard is pleased to present Alan Constable|Ten Cameras as its next Shop Exhibit. Curated by Ricky Swallow in collaboration with Arts Project Australia, this is the first solo presentation of Constable’s ceramic sculptures in the United States. Now in his late 50’s, Constable has been producing his art at Arts Project studio’s in Melbourne since 1987, and has exhibited his camera sculptures in both gallery and institutional exhibitions to critical praise over the past 7 years.

Constable is also participating in Outsiderism curated by Alex Baker at Fleisher Ollman gallery in Philadelphia this month.

Ricky wishes to thank Alex Baker for his introduction to Alan’s work, and Sim Luttin and Melissa Petty at Arts Project Australia for their generous assistance.

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Alan Constable
Orange AKI SLR
2011
Ceramic
6 x 10 x 4 inches
© Alan Constable

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Alan Constable
Green SLR
2011
Ceramic
7.75 x 9 x 3 inches
© Alan Constable

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South Willard
8038 West Third St
Los Angeles CA 90048
T: (323) 653-6153

Opening hours:
Mon-Sat 12-6
Sunday 12-5

Arts Project Australia website

South Willard website

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10
Oct
12

Review: ‘Valerio Ciccone: Peripheral Observer’ at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 8th September – 16th October 2012

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“Whatever medium he chooses, Ciccone’s work reflects a quiet connection with his subject, as well as a delicate poignancy or gentle sense of irony. There is a certain likeness between the peripheral gaze of his subjects and the way in which Ciccone, whilst remaining focused on his work, is able to keep a watchful eye on all that is happening around him. The subjects in Ciccone’s portraits rarely look directly at the viewer. They seem absorbed by action that is taking place off to the side, beyond the picture plane. Yet there is intentness in the expression, the feeling that the peripheral viewer does not miss a trick.”

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Dr Cheryl Daye, “Valerio Ciccone: Peripheral Observer,” Arts Project Australia catalogue, 2012, p.14

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“When his gaze moves out into the world. whilst paradoxically he stays in the same spot, we realise that in the new democracy of images everything is equal and everything is the same. Gary Ablett is next to John Howard who sidles up the Kuwaiti Crown Prince. Cathedrals are as important as the corner of a studio, and lions lie with mice, elephants with koala bears. That expands out to other images too, like that of old standard ‘the nude’ or ‘the model’ from life drawing class. Or fluid instinctual portraits of his studio colleagues. Again, not moving far, finding magic around the corner or across the room.”

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Glenn Barkly. “This is me – some thoughts on the art of Valerio Ciccone,” Arts Project Australia catalogue, 2012, p.8

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This is a beautiful and vibrant exhibition by Arts Project Australia artist Valerio Ciccone. As you can see from the reproductions in the posting the art work is engaging and enveloping. The work makes me happy, it makes me smile. Arts Project Australia does a wonderful job promoting their artists. It must be very difficult for the curators to append a conceptual idea onto an artist’s work without much input from the artist themselves. Such is the case here. Talking with curator of the exhibition Dr Cheryl Daye, she told me that the title of the exhibition was as much about the person Valerio Ciccone as the work itself; how Valerio circles around people before coming up to say hello, before approaching the subject directly. He is always “keeping an eye out” for what is going on around him.

In the top quotation above – the only paragraph in the two catalogue essays that addresses the conceptual idea of the exhibition – the terms peripheral gaze, peripheral viewer and by extension the title of the exhibition (peripheral observer), are conjoined. Personally, I think that there is a distinct difference between each term that caused me some conceptual unease when they are used together as such.

1. The peripheral gaze is a temporary, short state of uncertainty, before and between the active or passive state – perhaps!
In studying social interaction, Michael Watson (1970) found cultural variability in the intensity of gaze. He distinguished between three forms of gaze:

    • sharp: focusing on the other person’s eyes;
    • clear: focusing about the other person’s head and face;
    • peripheral: having the other person within the field of vision, but not focusing on his head or face.1

2. A peripheral viewer is active, recipient and creative; sometimes part of the thing itself. They are able to transform into 3, passive.

3. A peripheral observer can be passive, sometimes unconsciously so, as when someone is watching TV commercials, pictures on a channel that they do not like. Given more choice over control of the channels they become more active and the retain more interest in the program they are watching. The analogy could be that of a flaneur, strolling, looking but not interacting. They are able to transform into 2, active.

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According to Jules Romains, “Seeing, and its spatio-temporal organisation, precede gesture and speech and their co-ordination in knowing, recognising, making known (as images of our thoughts), our thoughts themselves and cognitive functions, which are never passive …”2 and Merleau-Ponty notes in an important formulation that, “Everything I see is in principle within my reach, at least within reach of my sight, marked on the map of the ‘I can’.”3

Marked on the map of ‘I can’: active. This is what Valerio does in his artwork, he marks his vision on the map of ‘I can’; not the centre or the periphery (for in postmodernism there is no centre, no periphery for the periphery is the centre!) but an equal balance between what passes before his eyes: background and subject given equal wait / weight within the picture plane where, “in the new democracy of images everything is equal and everything is the same.” This is not a peripheral observer but an artist who actively/passively addresses with equal importance the elements placed before his vision, a passing flow over which he has little control. Sight is decentred and becomes seeing on the field of the other, seeing under the Gaze.

“In the same way, when I see, what I see is formed by paths or networks laid down in advance of my seeing. It may be the case that I feel myself to inhabit some kind of center in my speech, but what decentres me is the network of language. It may be similarly be that I always feel myself to live at the center of my vision – somewhere (where?) behind my eyes; but, again, that vision is decentred by the networks of signifiers that come to me from the social milieu …

Lacan’s analysis of vision unfolds in the same terms: the viewing subject does not stand at the center of the perceptual horizon, and cannot command the chains and series of signifiers passing across the visual domain. Vision unfolds to the side of, in tangent to, the field of the other. And to that form of seeing Lacan gives a name: seeing on the field of the other, seeing under the Gaze.”4

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For me Valerio’s work is a result of a direct looking from a tangental position, not the other way around. His subjects and backgrounds are frontal to the viewer, his figures only rarely looking off to the side. The viewing subject, the artist in this case, stands not at the centre of the perceptual horizon and he cannot command what he sees, when he sees it. But what Valerio so brilliantly and sympathetically does is capture the visions that unfold in front of him with a wonderful joy of life that is breathtaking in its tangental difference, in its recognition of Otherness.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to the artist and Arts Project Australia for allowing me to publish the reproductions of the art in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (After Holbein)
1991
Pastel on paper
50 x 66cm
Courtesy of MADMusee, Belgium

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled
1991
Pastel on paper
56 x 76.5cm
Arts Project Australia Permanent Collection

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled
1991
Pastel on paper
76 x 57cm
Arts Project Australia Permanent Collection

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (Gary Ablett)
1998
Pastel on paper
66 x 50cm
Arts Project Australia Permanent Collection

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“Spanning a career of almost thirty years, Valerio Ciccone is an artist of complexity and subtly and this major survey exhibition is a testament to the varied terrain he has covered on his rich artistic journey. Valerio Ciccone: Peripheral Observer is a major survey exhibition that has been curated by Dr Cheryl Daye and will be officially opened by Glenn Barkley, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia on Saturday 8 September 2012.

Ciccone’s work reflects his fascination with the world around him. With drawing as his primary mode of expression, Ciccone also effectively employs ceramics and animation to create whimsical figures and narratives. Since commencing at Arts Project Australia in 1984, Ciccone’s work has undergone a series of changes: from his earliest watercolours through the powerful text-based monochromatic pastel portraits, to his colourful recreation of scenes from AFL and his enduring repertoire of animals, still life and pop culture icons, he continues to delight with his gentle insights.

Although warm and gregarious, Ciccone likes to place himself as a peripheral observer in relation to his subjects, quietly transforming what he sees into unique visual statements. Curator Dr Cheryl Daye first meet Ciccone in 1984 and says, “Ciccone is a man of few words…  He cannot tell you about his artwork, what it means, how he made it or why. He cannot tell you about the subjects or why he chose them, but the deliberation of each mark made speaks of that which is important to him, his interpretation of the world and desire to share his experience of it.”

Accompanying this exhibition is the Leonard Joel Series catalogue Valerio Ciccone: Peripheral Observer, which is the second publication proudly supported by Leonard Joel.”

Press release from the Arts Project Australia website

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (life model)
1990
Ink on paper
76 x 57cm
Arts Project Australia Permanent Collection

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (Notre Dame)
1990
Acrylic on paper
66 x 50cm
Arts Project Australia Permanent Collection

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled
1987
Pastel and felt pen on paper
66 x 50cm

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (still life)
1990
Pastel on paper
66 x 50cm

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (seated figure)
1997
Pastel on paper
66 x 50cm

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Valerio Ciccone
Not titled (life drawing)
1996
Pastel on paper
66 x 50cm

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1. Watson, Michael. Proxemic Behavior: A Cross-Cultural Study. The Hague: Mouton, 1970 quoted in Chandler, Daniel “Notes on “The Gaze”” on the Aberystwyth University website [Online] Cited 05/10/2012

2. Romains, Jules. La Vision extra-rétinienne et le sens paroptique. Paris: Gallimard, 1964 quoted in Virilio, Paul. The Vision Machine (trans. Julie Rose). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, p.7.

3. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. “Eye and Mind” (trans. Carleton Dallery) in The Primacy of Perception: And Other Essays on Phenomenological Psychology. Northwest University Press, 1964, p.162.

4. Foster, Hal (ed.,). Vision and Visuality. Bay Press, Seattle: Dia Art Foundation Discussions in Contemporary Culture, Number 2, 1988, p.94.

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Arts Project Australia
24 High Street
Northcote Victoria 3070
T: + 61 3 9482 4484

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday
 9am – 5pm
Saturday 
10am – 1pm

Arts Project Australia website

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10
Nov
11

artwork: alan constable camera. opening night photographs: ‘Movement and Emotion’ at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Movement and Emotion exhibition dates: 20th October – 26th November 2011

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I have added a new Alan Constable camera to my collection. Yah!

The one I have chosen is very unusual. The camera has a third eye and a stunning glaze. You can seen more of Alan’s cameras in the group exhibition The Machine now on at Craft Victoria, Flinders Lane until the 26th November 2011. The exhibition features the work of three Arts Project Australia artists: Alan Constable, Chris O’Brien and Terry Williams. All three artists explore machine aesthetics within their practice.

I really do hope that the National Gallery of Victoria purchases some of these cameras. They are the most unusual and beautiful sculptural pieces I have seen in a long time.

Many thankx to Art Project Australia for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. See more images from the Movement and Emotion exhibition.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan holding his new Alan Constable camera at the opening of Movement and Emotion 2011.
More of Alan’s cameras can be seen behind.

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Alan Constable
Not titled (three lens red camera)
2011

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Marcus with jeweller Marianne Cseh at right looking at the Alan Constable camera

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Opening night crowd at Movement and Emotion, Arts Project Australia

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Opening night, with at left curator and artist Paul Hodges, artist Jodie Noble (seated), myself and, at right, Jonah Jones, President of the board of Arts Project Australia

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Marcus giving the opening night speech for the exhibition Movement and Emotion. Read the opening night speech.
I was so nervous my jeweller friend Marianne said she could see my hands shaking from where she was standing in the crowd!!

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Artist Catherine Staughton standing in front of her work

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Arts Project Australia
24 High Street
Northcote Victoria 3070
T: + 61 3 9482 4484

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday
 9am – 5pm
Saturday 
10am – 1pm

Arts Project Australia website

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21
Oct
11

Opening: ‘Movement and Emotion’ and ‘Jodie Noble Solo’ exhibitions at Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 20th October – 26th November 2011

Curator of Movement and Emotion: Paul Hodges
Artists: Steven Ajzenberg, Patrick Francis, Brigid Hanrahan, Paul Hodges, Chris Mason, Cameron Noble, Jodie Noble, Lisa Reid, Anthony Romagnano and Cathy Staughton

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Opening night speech by Dr Marcus Bunyan

“Thank you for your welcome to Arts Project Australia on this auspicious occasion, the first ever exhibition to be curated by an Arts Project artist, Paul Hodges. Together with the Jodie Noble solo exhibition in the front gallery I am sure you will agree that the gallery is full of vibrant work. There are some things that may be said about both bodies of work.

I asked Paul what had been the inspiration behind Movement and Emotion. He said that he often goes to the National Gallery of Victoria and looks at the pictures and imagines the artist painting. He wonders how they were feeling and he visualises the pictures coming to life, especially pictures of dancers in which he has a personal interest. He came back to Arts Project and started thinking about the work in the collection and after much thought made the selection you see here tonight. He used his imagination, his feelings and his understanding of the world to curate the exhibition.

Let’s consider the title Movement and Emotion.

Emotion can be defined as an agitation, a strong feeling, a departure from the normal calm state of an organism. The logos of emotion begins in the experience of ‘being moved’ in some manner. Any emotion holds within its structure some potential for movement, whether it be physical or mental. You can be physically still yet be mentally moved, causing you to have emotion. Some emotions occur over a period of seconds (for example, surprise), whereas others can last years (for example, love). In the word ’emotion’ is the very act of movement, namely motion. Hence e/motion is the root of this wonderful feeling that I get from these artworks. Emotion is movement. Emotion is feeling. Emotion is passion.1

And it is this very act that sustains the work in both exhibitions. The work is personal. It speaks from the heart. It is intimate, transcendent and enigmatic. It moves me like little contemporary art ever does. When I first saw the artwork in the space at the back of the gallery, when they were revealed to me I gasped at their simple, eloquent beauty. Whimsical and playful these works possess an element of the carnivalesque,2 a riot of colour and form that exist on the border of art and life. Mingling depictions of high culture and personal narrative the works have no pretence but a visceral immediacy: a direct connection from the artists imagination of the world, through the eyes to the hand and the paper to depict what is in the world. As Susan Sontag observes, “A work of art is a thing in the world, not just a text or commentary on the world…”3

Some of you may be familiar with the American photographer Walker Evans – his famous US Depression era pictures are a thing in the world, as well as text/commentary on the world. He refers to this working method as ‘transcendent documentary’4: a watchful intelligence that recognises a moment of seeing, a movement of emotion – and then describes it. Yes, a quest for ‘the thing itself’ but more than that, the imagination to describe the substance of our existence, the nature of reality. Objects, people and places are transformed from things seen to things that we known. Intimately. Inherently.

In their unique vision it is the artists relation to self, the nature of what they see and feel around them that creates e/motion. They transcend form while ordering it at the same time. It is both the immediate world, simply described, perceived as it stands with the whole of consciousness coupled with the imagination as always there, between our eyes and the world, for it is the imagination that defines our humanity, declares our consciousness. They imagine, they perceive the simple radiance of what is.

That is what these artists do.

Perceive.

What is.

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In Movement and Emotion, and in the portraits of Jodie Noble we see what is and imagine what should be. The photographer Elliott Erwitt in his book Personal Exposures (1988) said, “The work I care about is terribly simple … I observe, I try to entertain, but above all I want pictures that are emotion.”5

Those pictures are here, e/motioning, all around us. I enjoy these pictures tremendously. Congratulations to all the artists for the experience that you have given us.”

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Cameron Noble
Not titled (Blue Lady)
2011
dry pastel on paper
57 x 37.5cm

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Jodie Noble
Not titled (red dog)
2006
pastel on paper
76 x 57cm

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Paul Hodges
Not titled (Pink Dancer)
2010
ink on paper
50 x 35cm

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Steven Ajzenberg
Harlequin
2010
gouache on paper
55.5 x 38cm

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Jodie Noble
Geisha Girl
2011
dry pastel on paper
35 x 25cm

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Jodie Noble
Not titled (girl wearing pink dress)
2010
prisma colour pencil on paper
50 x 35cm

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Movement and Emotion

This exhibition will explore movement in paintings and the emotions of people in everyday life. These works are vibrant, expressive and each work is unique; they jump out at you. Key themes investigated include carnival, dance and portraits. This is the first exhibition Paul Hodges has curated.

“This is a wonderful show presenting movement and emotion in art by ten artists that I have collected from Arts Project Australia’s studio.”
Paul Hodges, 2011

“When I walk past Jodie Noble’s paintings I can almost feel what she is feeling … Jodie is telling us what she is feeling through her paintings.”
Paul Hodges 2010

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Jodie Noble Solo

Jodie Noble’s current work is figurative and often incorporates an autobiographical narrative. While occasionally painting from life, her work also references popular culture. In particular, Noble is inspired by contemporary famous figures, from Frida Kahlo and Francisco Goya to Queen Elizabeth II. Noble’s work is descriptive, expressive and infused with a sense of physicality.

In this exhibition, Noble has selected a series of portraits on paper that are autobiographical and of people she knows in her life. This is Jodie’s second solo exhibition.

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Brigid Hanrahan
Not titled (Ballet Dancers)
2009
Colour pencil and fineliner on paper
20 x 30cm

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Catherine Staughton
Juggle Ball Hand Jump Roller
2011
gouache and felt pen on paper
38 x 56cm

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Anthony Romagnano
Madonna
2010
prisma colour pencil on paper
50 x 35cm

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Jodie Noble
Not titled
2010
ink and fine-liner on paper
38 x 28.5cm

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Lisa Reid
Great Aunt Edna
2003
gouache on paper
55 x 37.5cm

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Lisa Reid
Not titled (Adam Baddeley)
2001
pastel and pencil on paper
50 x 33cm

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Cameron Noble
Not titled
2011
dry pastel on paper
38.5 x 32.5cm

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Patrick Francis
Not titled
2011
acrylic on paper
70 x 50cm

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1. See Robbins, Brent Dean. Emotion, Movement & Psychological Space: A Sketching Out of the Emotions in terms of Temporality, Spatiality, Embodiment, Being-with, and Language. Duquesne University, 1999 [Online] Cited 08/10/2011.
mythosandlogos.com/emotion.html

2. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World (trans. Helene Iswolsky). Cambridge: MIT Press, 1968, p.7.

3. Sontag, Susan. “On Style,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Delta Book, 1966, pp. 21-22.

4. Anon. “”A Revolutionary Project” Brings Cuba to the Getty Museum,” on Cuban Art News [Online] 05/10/2011 Cited 08/10/2011.
www.cubanartnews.org/can/post/a_revolutionary_project_brings_cuba_to_the_getty_museum

5. Erwitt, Elliott. Personal Exposures. W. W. Norton & Company, 1988 quoted on Anon. “Photographer Elliott Erwitt’s Archive to be Housed at Harry Ransom Center” on Harry Ransom Center: The University of Texas website [Online] 22/09/2011. Cited 08/10/2011.
www.hrc.utexas.edu/press/releases/2011/erwitt.html

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Arts Project Australia
24 High Street
Northcote Victoria 3070
T: + 61 3 9482 4484

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday
 9am – 5pm
Saturday 
10am – 1pm

Arts Project Australia website

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07
Oct
11

opening: ‘movement and emotion’ and ‘jodie noble solo’ at arts project australia, melbourne

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I am opening the exhibitions Movement and Emotion and Jodie Noble Solo at Arts Project Australia, Northcote on Wednesday 19th October 2011 from 6 – 8pm. All welcome, would be great to see you there. Details on the flyer!

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Arts Project Australia website

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04
May
11

Review: ‘Alan Constable: Viewfinder’ at Arts Project Australia, Northcote, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th April 2011 – 1st June 2011

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“For me, art is what is most animal in us … It is the most noble thing because it’s a celebration precisely of the forces of the body and the forces of life.”

Elizabeth Grosz

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This Saturday, after a journey around the galleries of Albert Street, Richmond (underwhelming) and a visit to Sutton Gallery to see Simon Terrill’s photographic exhibition Phantom (an exhibition that I was going to review but when I saw it I changed my mind: two excellent photographs, Balfron Tower 2010-11 and Rivoli #2 2010-11, let down by three “empty” long exposure photographs allegedly showing traces of humanity, residues of presence) had left me a little deflated, I ventured to the opening of Alan Constable’s twenty-year retrospective Viewfinder curated by Dr Cheryl Daye at Arts Project Australia.

What a breath of fresh air this exhibition is!

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The exhibition shows beautifully in the gallery space. Hung chronologically, the more tightly controlled early series feature luminous pastels that investigate themes: landscapes, birds (rarely figures) – the rubbed and layered medium building up an almost translucent surface that reminded me of the pastel work of Odilon Redon. Later work, such as the two paintings Not titled (person with binoculars) 2009 and Not titled (figure with camera) 2006 (both below) show a greater engagement with the world and a freeing up of technique – running figures, Barak Obama, Dr. Who, suited men with headdresses, football players: happenings – with exaggerated form (hands for example), wonderful spontaneity and an essential simplicity that engages the viewer directly. All the paintings evidence a spatial flatness that brings everything onto the same plane, gives everything equal importance within the image (denying Renaissance perspective; as Cliff Burtt notes in the catalogue the converging lines and horizons act as elements of design, forming the scaffolding of composition). This technique is one of the most powerful elements of Constable’s work. A wonderful understanding of light and use of colour are other essential elements. The transformational, rough hewn, playful clay cameras (such as Konica Pop, 2009, below) are a particular favourite of mine. The glazes on the cameras, their tactility, the colours – are luscious. To hold them, to pick them up and feel them in your hands is a very special experience for me. Outstanding.

Constable has a unique way of seeing and imaging the world; his working method is unique. After carefully selecting source images from journals, magazines (for example National Geographic) and newspapers, Constable visually scans the photograph from a few inches, holding it up to his eyes and carefully maneuvering his way across the surface of the image, then making what he sees – a direct pointing to reality. Without a concept to worry about, through an enabled fluidity and freedom of expression, the artist cuts to the essential form of what he wants to make and because of this directness his work contains absolute kernels of wisdom. His observation is fantastic.

These are exuberant works that are a celebration of the body and of life. They have great spontaneity. What Constable sees, he feels and makes: the mark of the maker writ bold. They made me feel so alive. After the disappointment of earlier exhibitions in the day, this work made me laugh and smile!

You really can’t ask for more. It made my day.

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Many thankx to Sue Roff, Melissa Petty, Sim Lutin and everyone at Arts Project Australia for their help and for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

View photographs of Alan Constable on the Peter Fay Galleries website, a video of Peter saying a few words at the opening together with a video on the work of Arts Project Australia and Peter’s blog with comments and more photographs of the work.

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Alan Constable
Not titled (person with binoculars)
2009
acrylic on canvas
71 x 71.5 cm

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Alan Constable
Not titled (figure with camera)
2006
gouache on paper
65.5 x 45cm

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“Alan Constable is both a painter and a ceramicist. Alan Constable: Viewfinder is a major survey exhibition that will include paintings, drawings and ceramics, opening Saturday 30 April until Wednesday 1 June 2011.

Showcasing more than 60 works selected from over a 20 year period, Viewfinder offers new and rich insights into the unique art of Alan Constable. Legally blind, Constable has been able to create a body of work that is highly regarded. He is been a  finalist in numerous Australian Art Awards and his ceramic cameras are highly collectable.

‘Often when a painter is faced with a scene, there’s simply so much that’s appealing it’s hard to choose what to focus on’, says Dr Cheryl Daye, founding director, Arts Project Australia. ‘This is where a viewfinder comes in useful; as it helps you focus on particular parts of the scene, enabling you to decide what will make the best composition, both in terms of focus and format’. Daye has worked closely with Constable from the time he joined the Arts Project studio in 1987.

Viewfinder the title of his survey suggests the artist’s process and methodology as well as the composition and subject matter of his work.

In Constable’s two-dimensional works this can be traced from very early self-portraits (1992), through to carefully observed depictions of birds and animals to the series based on silhouettes framed in industrial or stormy landscapes, a fascination with light and energy and, more recently with colourful interpretations of political and cultural figures, all of which are sourced from photographic images carefully and sometimes painstakingly selected by the artist.

Based on imagery from newspapers and magazines, Constables recent paintings are notable for their vibrant kaleidoscopic effects and strong sense colour and patterning. Though Constable’s works are often centered on political events and global figures, his thematic concerns are frequently subjugated by the pure visual experience of colour and form.

His three-dimensional works, most notably the cameras, also sit well within this theme and given the fact that Constable is legally blind is also obliquely referenced. Constable’s ceramic works reflect a life-long fascination with old cameras, which began with his making replicas from cardboard cereal boxes at the age of eight. The sculptures are lyrical interpretations of technical instruments, and the artist’s finger marks can be seen clearly on the clay surface like traces of humanity. In this way, Constable’s cameras can be viewed as extensions of the body, as much as sculptural representations of an object.

Arts Project Australia supports people with disabilities to become practitioners in the visual arts.  The studio and gallery nurtures and promotes artists with an intellectual disability as they develop their body of work.”

Press release from Arts Project Australia

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Alan Constable
Konica Pop
2009
ceramic
21 x 32 x 10 cm

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Alan Constable
Not titled (explosion II)
1996
pastel on paper
50 x 66cm

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Alan Constable
Not titled (fruit)
1993
pastel on paper
66 x 50cm
Arts Project Australia Permanent Collection

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Arts Project Australia
24 High Street
Northcote Victoria 3070
T: + 61 3 9482 4484

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday
 9am – 5pm
Saturday 
10am – 1pm

Arts Project Australia website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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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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