Posts Tagged ‘review

03
Oct
17

Review: ‘Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines’ at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 23rd June – 8th October 2017

 

Gregory Crewsdon. 'The Haircut' 2014

 

Gregory Crewdson
The Haircut
2014
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian

 

 

End of days

I have written critically and glowingly of Crewdson’s work in the past (see my review of his exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 2012). With the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines the same elements are extant: life in the back woods of America, the tableaux beautifully staged and presented in large photographic prints throughout the three floors of the expansive spaces of the Photographers’ Gallery, London. And yet there is something particularly “icky”, if I can use that word, about this new body of work. What made me feel this way?

Firstly, I was uncomfortable with the number of naked or half-naked females (compared to men) in the photographs, all looking vulnerable, melancholic and isolated in small, rural town America. This is how Crewdson sees women in the microcosms he creates, women vulnerable in forest and cabin settings, but this incessant observation became/is objectionable to me. These are not powerful, strong, independent women, far from it. These are stateless women who peer endlessly out of windows, or sit on the end of beds looking downcast. It is almost degrading to females that these woman are so passive and objectified. Reinforcing the theme of isolation and desperation is the word “HELP!” painted on the bridge above a naked woman standing on a roadway; reinforcing the feeling of voyeurism is a woman’s bra hanging in a toilet being observed by a man on a pair of skis.

Secondly, compared to the earlier series, the spaces in these new photographs seem to be completely dead. The photographs look handsome enough but they have a very different feel from the previous work. While externally referencing a sense of space and uncertainty present in B grade movies, European and American 19th century landscape paintings (where the human figure is dwarfed by the supposed sublime), and the paintings of Edward Hopper – the spaces in these new works feel closed, locked down and a bit scary. Nothing is real (and never has been) in Crewdson’s work but this time everything seems to be over directed. As my friend Elizabeth Gertsakis observed, “The environmental context is chilling. The palette is extremely cold, there is no warmth at all. The viewer is not welcome, because there is nothing to be welcome to… even for curiosity’s sake. No one is real here – everything is silent.” Or dead. Or lifeless.

The whole series seems apathetic. That is, apathy with extreme effort. While Crewdson observes that the darkness lifted, leading to a reconnection with his artistic process and a period of renewal and intense creativity, this work is clearly at the end of something. As Elizabeth comments, “An invisible wall has come down here…. and there is absolutely no entry. This body of work is so much more pervy because it is so obvious and wooden. The camera here is well and truly in the mortuary and the photographer is the undertaker as well as the man who makes dead faces look ‘human’.” But he doesn’t make them human, and there’s the rub. Which all begs the question: where is this work going?

While Crewdson continues to move down a referential and associative path, the work fails to progress conceptually even as the work ultimately stagnates, both visually and emotionally. These wooden mise en scène are based on a very tired conceptual methodology, that of the narrative of the B grade movie which, if you have the money, time and willingness to invest in, can seem sufficiently sophisticated. Of course, buyers want to keep buying a signatory technique or idea that is easily recognisable and this adds to the cachet of the art… but as a critic you have to ask where the work is going, if an artist keeps repeating the same thing over and over and over again in slightly different contexts. Imagine if Degas had kept painting ballet dancers using the same lighting, the same perspective, the same colour palette, the same psychological investigation painting after painting… what we would be saying about the resulting work. Sure, there is great technical proficiency contained in Crewdson’s work, but is he pushing the work anywhere more interesting? And the simple answer to that question is, no he isn’t. No wonder he has been having a tough time reconnecting with his artistic process.

Marcus

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All installation photographs © Dr Marcus Bunyan, The Photographers’ Gallery and the artist. Please observe that there are reflections in the installation photographs of the surrounding gallery.

 

 

“It was deep in the forests of Becket, Massachusetts that I finally felt darkness lift, experienced a reconnection with my artistic process, and moved into a period of renewal and intense creativity.”

.
Gregory Crewdson

 

 

Room 1

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Woman at Sink 2014

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Woman in Parked Car 2014

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

 

Installation views of Room 1 of Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'The Basement' 2014

 

Gregory Crewdson
The Basement
2014
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian

 

 

This is the first UK exhibition of Cathedral of the Pines, a new body of work by acclaimed American artist Gregory Crewdson, and it is also the first time The Photographers’ Gallery has devoted all three of its gallery spaces to one artist.

With this series, produced between 2013 and 2014, Crewdson departs from his interest in uncanny suburban subjects and explores human relations within more natural environments. In images that recall nineteenth-century American and European paintings, Crewdson photographs figures posing within the small rural town of Becket, Massachusetts, and its vast surrounding forests, including the actual trail from which the series takes its title. Interior scenes charged with ambiguous narratives probe tensions between human connection and separation, intimacy and isolation.

Crewdson describes this project as ‘his most personal’, venturing to retrieve in the remote setting of the forest, a reminiscence of his childhood. The images in Cathedral of the Pines, located in the dystopian landscape of the anxious American imagination, create atmospheric scenes, many featuring local residents, and for the first time in Crewdson’s work, friends and family. In Woman at Sink, a woman pauses from her domestic chores, lost in thought. In Pickup Truck, Crewdson shows a nude couple in the flatbed of a truck in a dense forest – the woman seated, the man turned away in repose. Crewdson situates his disconsolate subjects in familiar settings, yet their cryptic actions – standing still in the snow, or nude on a riverbank – hint at invisible challenges. Precisely what these challenges are, and what fate awaits these anonymous figures, are left to the viewer’s imagination.

Crewdson’s careful crafting of visual suspense conjures forebears such as Diane Arbus, Alfred Hitchcock, and Edward Hopper, as well as the influence of Hollywood cinema and directors such as David Lynch. In Cathedral of the Pines, Crewdson’s persistent psychological leitmotifs evolve into intimate figurative dramas. Visually alluring and often deeply disquieting, these tableaux are the result of an intricate production process: For more than twenty years, Crewdson has used the streets and interiors of small-town America as settings for photographic incarnations of the uncanny.

Maintaining his trademark elaborate production processes, Crewdson works with a large crew to produce meticulously staged images with an obsessive attention to detail. Situated between Hollywood cinema and nineteenth-century American and European Romantic landscape painting, these scenes are charged with ambiguous narratives, which prove tensions between human connection and separation, intimacy and isolation.

Text from The Photographers’ Gallery website and wall text

 

Room 2

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. The VW Bus 2013

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Pregnant Woman on Porch 2013

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Father and Son 2013

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. The Ice Hut 2014

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Sisters 2014

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Sisters 2014 (detail)

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. The Disturbance 2014 (detail below)

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

 

Installation views of Room 2 of Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'The Disturbance' 2014

 

Gregory Crewdson
The Disturbance
2014
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian

 

Room 3

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Woman on Road 2014

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

 

Installation views of Room 3 of Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

 

 

The Photographers Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street
London
W1F 7LW

Opening hours:
Mon – Sat: 10.00 – 18.00
Thu: 10.00 – 20.00 during exhibitions
Sun: 11.00 – 18.00

The Photographers’ Gallery website

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12
Jul
09

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

Exhibition dates: 25th June – 25th July 2009

 

Marco Fusinato. 'Double Infinitive 3' 2009

 

Marco Fusinato (Australian, b. 1964)
Double Infinitive 3
2009

 

Marco Fusinato. 'Double infinitive I' 2009

 

Marco Fusinato (Australian, b. 1964)
Double infinitive 1
2009

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music – Noise  – Silence
Flatness – Advertising – Earth – Fire
Rock – Space – Memory

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

Marco Fusinato. 'Double Infinitive 4' 2009

 

Marco Fusinato (Australian, b. 1964)
Double Infinitive 4
2009

 

 

A selection of images from the print media of the decisive moment in a riot in which a protagonist brandishes a rock against a backdrop of fire. Each image is from a different part of the world, from the early twenty-first century, and is blown up to history-painting scale using the latest commercial print technologies.

Text by Marco Fusinato on his website

 

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

 

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

 

 

DOUBLE INFINITIVES

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Liv Barrett
June 2009

Text from the Anna Schwartz Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/07/2009 no longer available online

 

Marco Fusinato. 'Double Iinfinitive 2' 2009

 

Marco Fusinato (Australian, b. 1964)
Double Iinfinitive 2
2009

 

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

 

Marco Fusinato (Australian, b. 1964)
Double Iinfinitive 2 (detail)
2009

 

Marco Fusinato. 'Double Iinfinitive 5' 2009

 

Marco Fusinato (Australian, b. 1964)
Double Iinfinitive 5
2009

 

 

Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

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

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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01
Jul
09

Review: ‘Apocrypha’ photographs by Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla at Place Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 17th June – 11th July 2009

 

Apocrypha (from the Greek word ἀπόκρυφα, meaning “those having been hidden away”) are texts of uncertain authenticity, or writings where the authorship is questioned.

Definition from the Wikipedia website.

 

 

Dav-Riz-apocrypha1-and-4

 

Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla
Apocrypha #1 (left) and Apocrypha #4 (right)
2008

 

 

“Intuitively we know the definition of the output from this process lies hidden within each object, seemingly carved into the underside of their skin, although we cannot see it. But actually it is not carved, it is the three-dimensional tracing of the original. The original becomes a throw-away. It is obsolete. The point of origin lies no longer within an object but at the heart of the creative impulse.”

Vanessa Mooney

 

Apocrypha is an interesting, if slight, exhibition of eleven photographs by Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla at Place Gallery in Richmond. Conceptually the work is resolved if not pushed to any great depth, the small photographs of sarcophagi like casements and moulds addressing issues surrounding the absence/presence of the original object and the subsequent loss of identity. In their masking, the objects photographed hide an inner identity that has gone missing; the headless figures, like faceless mummies, protect something that has existed since early man – the inner spiritual machinations of belief – that are embedded within the existential nature of our being. Identity has been rubbed out and spirit is splitting apart the moulds trying to escape the confines of mortality, only held in check by the wooden pegs and ropes.

Like the sutures of the human skull, the marks on the casements (see below right image) try to align form across space and time but these objects are grounded in a contextless backgrounds, seemingly floating free of earthly constraints. Here we have a double tracing – that of the tracing of the original object that has been thrown away (see Vanessa Mooney quotation above) and the tracing of the indexicality of the object by the photograph – the re-presentation of an original that no longer exists. There is a double loss through this re-retracing that fits perfectly with the title Apocrypha – as the photographs become texts of uncertain authenticity.

Where the exhibition is less successful is in the physical presence of the photographs and their aesthetic qualities. While Vanessa Mooney asserts that the photographs are “meticulous in their detail and exact in their depth and texture” this assertion is untrue. From a technical point of view the photographs are soft in focus and lack depth of field. The ropes are fuzzy and the lack of depth of field in the focus plane from front to back adds to a lack of presence that the photographs needed to counterbalance the conceptual idea of apocrypha. I am also unsure about the scale of the photographs – there seems something in-between about the size of the images, neither here nor there. Aesthetically they needed either more presence (through being bigger), or more intensity through a jewel like nature in being smaller, again to counterbalance the conceptual themes. Finally, being surrounded by these eleven photographs in the gallery gives you the feeling of a ‘one shot’ idea that needed further investigation and refinement, an idea that needed to be pushed further. While the actual ideas themselves are interesting the work itself is too simple, too slight to hold the attention and reveal layers of meaning over time.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Place Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla. 'Apocrypha #5' (left) and 'Apocrypha #7' (right) 2008

 

Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla
Apocrypha #5 (left) and Apocrypha #7 (right)
2008

 

 

The Father, The Son And Apocrypha

We all have faith that we must lodge somewhere: you; the microscope, me; the earth, and the artist? There are two stories present. The first is Apocrypha, a series of works by Davies and Rizkalla and the second is something you cannot see but will soon know.

Davies and Rizkalla present to us Apocrypha; a series of photographs that are meticulous in their detail and exact in their depth and texture. It is an evocative title and encapsulates the resonance of the objects. What we can see is clear – plaster moulds used by someone, somewhere for casting objects. The clarity of the details of rope, wedges of wood and the depth of the seam tell us of the real working nature of them. The inversion here from background process to foreground subject matter is not for irony’s sake but to evoke the simultaneous banality and sacredness of the transformative creative process. It is documented honestly before the viewer, and yet, the mystery remains. Intuitively we know the definition of the output from this process lies hidden within each object, seemingly carved into the underside of their skin, although we cannot see it. But actually it is not carved, it is the three-dimensional tracing of the original. The original becomes a throw-away. It is obsolete. The point of origin lies no longer within an object but at the heart of the creative impulse.

Tony Scalzo, my father-in-law, was drawn to this process. While the creation of a religious icon amused his communist leanings the irresistible pull of the transformation from dust and water to artefact must have, I feel, fulfilled a greater need to live through making. Countless times he would present to us his recent army of saints or holy persons (Padre Pio was a boom time) to be sold through his community, and would scoff and laugh at how he could make an object that to others was an icon. He would point to the shed, the latex, the plaster dust as if to dispel the mystery, and yet the mystery remained.

Perhaps the final mystery is the process, the collaboration that has come about since Tony passed away and his son Stefano came into possession of the simple and unusual collection. Stefano like his father is drawn to the creative process. So innately aware of the artist, his father, he approached Julie and Alex with these as gifts that are, in a way, not his to give. As a custodian might he passed on the objects and communicated his intuitive knowledge of their meaning. One plus one equals three. The result, Apocrypha, is like a window that was obscured and now has been opened. We can see with clarity what was unseen, but known, before. Apocrypha silently demonstrates the entwining of faith and mystery in the creative life of all.”

Vanessa Mooney

Text from the Place Gallery website [Online] Cited 09/03/2019

 

Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla. 'Apocrypha #8' (left) and 'Apocrypha #9' (right) 2008

 

Julie Davis and Alex Rizkalla
Apocrypha #8 (left) and Apocrypha #9 (right)
2008

 

 

Place Gallery
20, Tennyson Street, Richmond

Openng hours:
Wednesday – Saturday 11.00 – 5.00pm.

Place Gallery website

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17
Jun
09

Review: ‘Blight’ photographs by Josephine Kuperholz at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 3rd June – 27th June 2009

 

Josephine Kuperholz. 'Themognatha pascoci' 2008

 

Josephine Kuperholz
Themognatha pascoci
2008
Woven hand coloured silver gelatin photographic image

 

 

Josephine Kuperholz presents a beautifully engineered set of photographs in her exhibition Blight at Gallery 101, Melbourne. Featuring hand coloured silver gelatin photographs of endangered Australian insects sourced from the Entomology collection of the Victoria Museum, Kuperholz literally weaves multiple narratives into the photographs. The execution (an apt word for the circumstances of extinction facing these insects) of these images is fastidious, the weaving superlative, almost clinical.

The layering of the photographs disrupts their surface tension. There is a disjunction between the dead specimen and the singular photograph of it, a disruption of the smooth surface of the photograph by the hand colouring and a further fragmentation of the original photograph by cutting and weaving. Through these processes the photographs become intertextual in their construction, assemblages, creating new tissues of past citations: animal, colour, silver, artist, text, photograph, environment. At their best the work subverts the concept of the text as self-sufficient and hermetically sealed, blurring the outlines of the fixed image, “dispersing its image of totality into an unbounded, illimitable tissue of connections and associations, paraphrases and fragments, texts and con-texts.”1

Kuperholz’s mutations, ‘differance’ in Derrida’s terminology, produce spaces that are both fluid and fixed at one and the same time; neither her nor there. Though the original specimens and photographs are already narrativised, already textualised, Kuperholz disrupts this marking, the continual reiteration of norms, by weaving a lack of fixity into her objects; in her reconceptualisations of space and matter Kuperholz redefines the significations of the body of the animal in the fold of inscription, through a process of materialisation. Kuperholz attempts to ground these re-inscriptions through the naming of these disrupted surfaces, equating the images back to the scientific labels for the original specimen, Trapezites eliena for example (see below), and through the box frames surrounding the work that are much like museum cases. Unfortunately I found the constant reference to the habitat of the insect, it’s Latin name inscribed in pencil under the images and the use of plain brown box frames somewhat irritating. These tropes are not necessary for the work is strong enough to stand on it’s own without having to tell the viewer what to think.

The singular beetles (as seen above) are beautiful images and the multiple images where the weaving intermingles, the self decentred and multiple, fluttering and vibrating like the strobing of a time lapse photograph caught in three-dimensional space, are fantastic. Other photographs are less successful: the reflected beetles are a little passe, while the grid photographs of insects lack presence and intensity (see bottom installation photograph below). Where the concept works it is pushed hard, the fragmentation and interweaving causes an anxiety of identity and a meditation on the problematic nature of existence, revealing the changing sizes, shapes and rhythms of space and structure.

Perhaps a loosening of the rigid structure surrounding the works (the text, the frame, the incantations) would have let the photographs ascend into the ether, further releasing the work from the constraints of author, text and earth. It will be interesting to see future developments of this work. Perhaps the incorporation of gentle, subtle physical elements into the photographs (through the sowing of patterns, through the sowing of objects directly onto the photograph?), will elevate these already beautiful photographs to an-other plane of existence.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

Josephine Kuperholz. 'Trapezites eliena' 2008

 

Josephine Kuperholz
Trapezites eliena
2008
Common name – Eliena Skipper

Woven hand coloured silver gelatin photographic image

 

Josephine Kuperholz. 'Dryococelus australis' 2008

 

Josephine Kuperholz
Dryococelus australis
2008
Common name – Lord Howe Island Phasmid
Woven hand coloured silver gelatin photographic image

 

Josephine Kuperholz 'Blight' exhibition Gallery 101 website text

 

Josephine Kuperholz Blight exhibition, Gallery 101 website text

 

Josephine Kuperholz 'Blight' exhibition installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Josephine Kuperholz 'Blight' exhibition installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Josephine Kuperholz 'Blight' exhibition installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

Josephine Kuperholz Blight exhibition installation views at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

 

GALLERY 101

This gallery is now closed.

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09
Jun
09

Review: ‘Modern Times: The Untold Story of Modernism in Australia’ at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 21st March – 12th July 2009

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968) 'Colour Composition derived from three bars of music in the Key of Green' 1935

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968)
Colour Composition derived from three bars of music in the Key of Green
1935
Oil and pencil on composition board
Private Collection

 

 

Despite some interesting highlight pieces this is a patchy, thin, incoherent exhibition assembled by the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney now showing at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. Featuring a hotchpotch of work ranging across fields such as drawing, architecture, photography, painting, film, graphic design, craft, advertising, Australiana and aboriginal works the exhibition attempts to tell the untold story of Modernism in Australia to little effect. Within the exhibition there is no attempt to define exactly what ‘Modernism’ is and therefore an investigation into Modernism in Australia is all the more confusing for the visitor as there seems to be no stable basis on which to build that investigation. Perhaps reading the catalogue would give a greater overview of the development of Modernism in Australia but for the average visitor to the exhibition there seems to be no holistic rationale for the inclusion of elements within the exhibition which, much like Modernism itself, seems eclectically gathered from all walks of life with little regard for narrative structure.

With work spanning five decades from 1917-1967 we are presented with, variously, Robert Klippel’s kitsch Boomerang table from 1955, Robin Boyd’s ‘House of Tomorrow’ from 1949, Wolfgang Sievers ‘new objective’ photographs, Berlei’s scientific system for calculating beauty in woman in use till the 1960s, swimsuits from the 1920s-1940s, Featherston chairs from the Australian pavilion at the 1967 Expo, a recreation of Australian architect Harry Seidler’s office (the most interesting part of this being the books he had in his office library: Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe and Concerning Town Planning by Le Corbusier) and the wind tunnel test model of the Sydney Opera House in wood from 1960. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera …

Highlight pieces include the above mentioned test model of the Sydney Opera House which is stunning in its scale and woodenness, in it’s simplicity of shape and form. Other highlight pieces are the colour music compositions of Roy de Maistre which were the tour de force of the show for me, true revelations in their rhythmic synchronic Moebius-like construction with layered planes of colour swirling in purples, greens and yellows. The large vintage photographic print of Sunbaker (1934) by Max Dupain was also a revelation with it’s earthy brown tones, the blending of the atmospheric out of focus foreground with the clouds behind, the architectural nature of the outline of the body almost like the outline of Uluru, the darkness of the head with the sensuality of the head and shoulders framed against the largeness of the hand resting on the sand. Lastly the two paintings and one rug by French artist Sonia Delaunay are a knockout. It says something about an exhibition when the best work in the show are two paintings by a French artist seemingly plucked at random to show external influences on Australian artists and designers.

While the exhibition does attempt to portray the breadth of the development of Modernism in Australia ultimately it falls well short in this endeavour. The most striking example of this shortcoming is the true star of the exhibition – the building that is Heide II itself. Commissioned by John and Sunday Reed and designed by the Victorian architect David McGlashan of the architectural firm McGlashan and Eversit in 1963 the building epitomises everything that is good about architectural Modernism and it’s form overshadows the exhibition itself. In this building we have beautiful spaces and volumes, an amazing staircase down into the lower area, suspended decking overlooking gardens, the blending of inside and outside areas, large expanses of glass to view the landscape, nooks and studies for privacy and the simplicity and eloquence of form that is Modernist design. With money one can indulge in the best of elitist Modernism. With position, position, position one can side steep the alienation of the city and the spread of surburbia where the dream of Australians owning a home of their own still continues in the vast, tasteless expanses of McMansion estates.

Robert Nelson in his review of this exhibition sees the car as creating the suburbs and Modernism as the emptying of the city after 6pm, the lessening of community and the devaluing of space he insists that there is little difference between a Californian bungalow in the suburbs and a utopian geometric neo-Corbusian box by Harry Seidler because they were equally shackled to motor transport.1 This is to miss the point.

Although Modernism in its basic form influenced most walks of life in Australia from swimsuit design to milk bars, from cinema to naturism, from bodies to advertising the most effective expressions of Modernism are architectural (as evidenced by Heide II) and were only open to those with money, power and position. Although Le Corbusier’s concept of public housing was a space ‘for the people’ the most interesting of his houses were the private commissions for wealthy clients. And so it proves here. One can imagine the parties on the deck at Heide II in the 1960s with men in their tuxedo and bow ties and woman in their gowns, or the relaxation of the Reed’s sitting in front of their fire in the submerged lounge. For the ordinary working class person Modernism brought a sense of alienation from the aspirational things one cannot buy in the world, an alienation that continues to this day; for the privileged few Modernism offered the exclusivity of elitism (or is it the elitism of exclusivity!) and an aspirational alienation of a different kind – that of the separation from the masses.

Go to Heide for the glorious gardens, the wonders of Heide II but don’t go to this exhibition expecting grand insights into the basis of Australian Modernism for that story, as Robert Nelson rightly notes, remains as yet untold.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

An excellent review of the exhibition by Jill Julius Matthews, “Modern times: The untold story of modernism in Australia,” (reCollections Volume 4 number 1) can be found on the Journal of the National Museum of Australia website [Online] Cited 20/02/2019

 

  1. “Emanating from Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, Modern Times “explores how modernism transformed Australian culture from 1917 to 1967.” But something is missing. The overwhelming modern development in these 50 years was the proliferation of automotive transport, which redefined the layout and function of Australian cities.

    The cars created the suburbs; and as the individual bungalow drew out the vast dormitories of Sydney and Melbourne, the city centre was spiritually drained, dedicated to bureaucratic and commercial premises.

    The story at Heide emphasises the gradual triumph of the tall buildings of the CBD. It doesn’t really reflect how these abstract monuments didn’t contain a soul after 6pm.Although the project makes such a big deal of being interdisciplinary, the social history doesn’t have a robust geographical basis. And because of this, the exhibition and book fail to handle the new alienation that modernism brings: the evacuation of the city and the insularity of suburban people in bungalows with little street life and roads increasingly deemed unsafe for children.

    What does it really matter if a house looks like a Californian bungalow or a utopian geometric neo-Corbusian box by Harry Seidler? In social terms, they’re structurally the same, equally retracting from a sense of community and equally shackled to motor transport. In this sense, the styles are immaterial, except that one of them gives you a feeling of intimacy while the other has a bit more light and is easily wiped with a sponge.

    At the end of the chosen period, the folly of the dominant suburban pattern came to be understood in its dire ecological consequences. Alas, it was too late. The modernist devaluation of space had already occurred, and our whole society had been reorganised around petrol.”

    Robert Nelson. The Age. Wednesday 6th May, 2009

 

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968) 'Arrested Movement from a Trio' 1934

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968)
Arrested Movement from a Trio
1934
Oil and pencil on composition board
72.3 × 98.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968) 'Rhythmic composition in yellow green minor' 1919

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968)
Rhythmic composition in yellow green minor
1919
Oil on paperboard
85.3 x 115.3 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
© Caroline de Mestre Walker

 

 

In late 1918, Roy de Maistre collaborated with fellow artist Roland Wakelin in exploring the relationship between art and music. Their experiments produced Australia’s first abstract paintings, characterised by high-key colour, large areas of flat paint and simplified forms. The works received critical acclaim, but modernist developments were largely derided by the conservative establishment.

This painting exemplifies de Maistre’s theory of colour harmonisation based on analogies between colours of the spectrum and notes of the musical scale. It is also aligned with de Maistre’s search for spiritual meaning through abstraction, akin to other artists such as Kandinsky who were interested in the ideas of the theosophy and anthroposophy movements, spiritualism and the occult.

Text from the Art Gallery of New South Wales website

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968) 'Colour chart' c. 1919

 

Roy de Maistre (Australian, 1894-1968)
Colour chart
c. 1919
30.5 x 40.5 cm
Oil on cardboard
Gift of the executors of the artist’s estate 1968
Art Gallery of New South Wales
© Caroline de Mestre Walker

 

Sonia Delaunay. 'Rhythm' 1938

 

Sonia Delaunay (Ukraine, b. 1885 moved Paris 1905-1979)
Rhythm
1938
Oil on canvas

 

Wolfgang Sievers (German Australian 1913-2007) '"House of Tomorrow" exhibition at Exhibition Building, Melbourne' 1949

 

Wolfgang Sievers (German Australian 1913-2007)
“House of Tomorrow” exhibition at Exhibition Building, Melbourne
1949
Gelatin silver print
National Library of Australia

 

Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski (Poland, Australia 1922-1994) 'Nymphex' 1966

 

Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski (Poland, Australia 1922-1994)
Nymphex
1966
Gelatin silver photograph from electronic image
50.6 x 60.8 cm image/sheet
Gift of Dr George Berger 1978
Art Gallery of New South Wales
@ Estate of Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski

 

Rayner Hoff (United Kingdom, Australia 1894-1937) 'Decorative portrait - Len Lye' 1925

 

Rayner Hoff (United Kingdom, Australia 1894-1937)
Decorative portrait – Len Lye
1925
Marble
30.5 x 22.5 x 16.5 cm
Purchased 1938
Art Gallery of New South Wales

 

Max Dupain. 'Sunbaker' 1934 printed 1937

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
Sunbaker
1934 printed 1937
Gelatin silver print

 

Grace Cossington Smith (Australia, 1892-1984) 'Rushing' c. 1922

 

Grace Cossington Smith (Australia, 1892-1984)
Rushing
c. 1922
Oil on canvas on paperboard
65.6 x 91.3 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

 

 

Cossington Smith captures the drama of a crowd in Rushing, which depicts commuters clamouring down to the ferries of Circular Quay to get home after work. The flying scarf and fallen hat emphasise the speed at which the travellers are moving and the peril and claustrophobia of a, mostly faceless, city crowd. The steep gangplank and diagonal composition accentuates the dynamism of the painting.

A brilliant colourist, Cossington Smith’s work of the early 1920s adopts a darker palette than the vivid colours she is usually associated with. Inspired by a visit to Sydney in 1920 by the tonalist painter and teacher Max Meldrum, her paintings became studies in tone, rather than colour, a practice she had abandoned by 1925.

Text from the Art Gallery of New South Wales website

 

Robert Klippel 'Boomerang' coffee table 1955

 

Robert Klippel (Australian, 1920-2001)
Boomerang coffee table
1955

 

 

“The Powerhouse Museum travelling exhibition Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia explores how modernism transformed Australian culture from 1917 to 1967, a period of great social, economic, political and technological change. From the ideals of abstraction and functionalism to the romance of high-rise cities, new leisure activities and the healthy body, modernism encapsulated the possibilities of the twentieth century. This exhibition is the first interdisciplinary survey of the impact of modernism in Australia, spanning art, design, architecture, advertising, photography, film and fashion.

Modern times is presented at Heide across all four of the Museum’s gallery spaces. It unfolds in thematic sections highlighting key stories about international exchange, the modern body, modernist ‘primitivism’, the city, modern pools, and the Space Age. Comprising over 300 objects and artworks, it showcases works by major artists including Sidney Nolan, Margaret Preston, Albert Tucker, Grace Cossington Smith, Max Dupain, Wolfgang Sievers, and Clement Meadmore, key architects Robin Boyd, Roy Grounds and Harry Seidler, and designers Fred Ward and Grant and Mary Featherston. An installation, Cannibal Tours, by Madrid-based Australian artist Narelle Jubelin is a contemporary adjunct to the exhibition.

Inspired by the futurist visions of various European avant-gardes, modernist ideas were often controversial and shaped by many competing positions. Modern times reveals how these ideas were circulated and took hold in Australia, via émigrés, expatriates, exhibitions, films and publications. Australian contact with significant international modernist sources, such as the Bauhaus school in Germany, occurred through figures such as influential artist and teacher Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, who taught Bauhaus principles at Geelong Grammar, and renowned architect Harry Seidler, who played a central role in shaping the modern city in Australia. Hirschfeld-Mack’s extraordinary film Colour Light Play of 1923 is shown for the first time in Australia, and Seidler’s 1948 studio, designed on his arrival from New York, has been re-created for the exhibition.

While modernism was international in character, an ‘Australian modernism’ was first championed in the 1920s by artist Margaret Preston, whose promotion of Aboriginal forms and motifs was important to the understanding of their artistic value. Preston’s designs, Len Lye’s stunning animation Tusalava (1929), Robert Klippel’s boomerang table (c. 1955) and other works show the development of a vernacular modernism.

Other highlights of Modern times include works from the visionary experiment in colour theory by Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin in 1919, a model of Robin Boyd’s innovative House of Tomorrow (1949), the iconic Featherston wing sound chairs from the Australian pavilion at the 1967 Montreal Expo, and a large wooden model for Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House.”

Text from the Heide Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 06/06/2009 no longer available online

 

Athlete and movie-star Annette Kellerman's 'Modern Kellerman Bathing Suit for Women' which became commercially available by the mid-1920s. The one-piece bathing suit became Kellerman's trademark.

 

Athlete and movie-star Annette Kellerman’s Modern Kellerman Bathing Suit for Women which became commercially available by the mid-1920s. The one-piece bathing suit became Kellermans trademark
Gift of Dennis Wolanski Library, Sydney Opera House, 2000
Photo: Powerhouse Museum

 

'On hot summer days cool off with Tooth's KB Lager', advertising poster (about 1940).

 

On hot summer days cool off with Tooth’s KB Lager
About 1940
Advertising poster
Colour and process lithograph, artist name “Parker” in image lower right
100.4 x 75.4cm
Sydney Living Museums

 

Grant and Mary Featherston. 'Expo mark II sound chair' 1967

 

Grant Featherston (Australian, 1922-1995) and Mary Featherston (Australian, b. London 1943, migrated to Australia 1952)
Expo mark II sound chair
1967
Aristoc Industries
Polystyrene, polyurethane foam, Dunlopillo foam rubber, Pirelli webbing, fibreglass, hardwood, sound equipment, upholstery fabric
Powerhouse Collection

 

 

The Expo Mark II sound chair, adapted for the Australian domestic market after Expo 67 in Montreal.

A cloth-covered high back winged chair with a circular base. The chair has a circular orange cloth covered cushion in the base and an integral full-width headrest. Two 125mm diameter inserts are pressed into the top of the back of the chair where speakers are fitted inside it. There is a cylindrical knob on the side of the chair.

 

James Birrell. 'A modernist vision of Australia - The interior of the Australian Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal' 1967

 

National Archives of Australia
A modernist vision of Australia: Grant and Mary Featherston’s wing sound chairs were a feature of the Australian Pavilion, designed by architect James Maccormick with exhibits selected by Robin Boyd, at Expo 67 in Montreal, 1967
1967

 

 

In 1967 Australia participated in the International and Universal Exposition held in Montreal, Canada. Australia’s Expo ’67 theme was the ‘Spirit of Adventure’. In the 30,000 square feet glass-walled Australian Pavilion, developed by the Australian Government and designed by Robin Boyd, exhibits explored Australian science, arts, people and development. The pavilion was designed as a ‘haven’ of ‘space and tranquillity’ floating above an Australian bushland setting. Inside, 240 innovative sound chairs offered ‘foot-weary Expo visitors’ the chance to hear the voices of famous Australians describing the exhibits, in French as well as English. The Great Barrier Reef was re-created in a lagoon beneath the pavilion while wallabies and kangaroos could be viewed in a sunken enclosure.

Text from the National Museum of Australia website [Online] Cited 20/02/2019

 

James Birrell. 'View of the elevated restaurant, Centenary Pool, Brisbane' Nd

 

James Birrell (Australian, b. 1928)
View of the elevated restaurant, Centenary Pool, Brisbane
Nd
Powerhouse Museum

 

 

“A major exhibition opening for Sydney Design 08 in August, Modern times looks closely at the transformation of modern city life. The advent of cars, freeways, skyscrapers and new entertainment such as cinemas, milk bars, swimming pools, cafes and pubs are all legacies of modernism as revealed through the exhibition. The exhibition spans five decades from 1917 to 1967 – a tumultuous period marked by global wars, economic depression, a technological revolution and major social changes – out of which a modern cosmopolitan culture was shaped.

“The modernist movement was inspired by various European avant-gardes that projected visions of a better future, shaped by many competing positions. It was through émigrés, expatriates, exhibitions and publications that modernism become known in Australia,” Ann Stephen said. Encompassing art, design and architecture, Modern times focuses on seven themes: 1. the human body, image and health; 2. international influences and exchanges; 3. Indigenous art and modernism; 4. Interdisciplinary projects with retailers; 5. city landscapes and urban life; 6. public pools and milk bars; and 7. the space age.

Several great modern public pools were designed in Australia initially as part of an international swimming boom in the 1930s and boosted by the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. These will be shown on a large, immersive, panoramic audio visual screen celebrating the most Australian of past-times, being poolside. The earliest 1920s swimming costumes by silent film star Annette Kellerman, several decades of Australian icon ‘Speedo’ cossies and an early bikini will also be on display.

The much-loved corner milk bar from the 1930s will also be recreated in the exhibition for visitors to enter, complete with lolly jars, milkshakes and a juke box.

Other story highlights in the exhibition include Robin Boyd’s ‘House of Tomorrow’ that featured at the 1949 Modern Home Exhibition in Melbourne; and Boyd’s memorable Australian pavilion at the 1967 Montreal Expo that showcased Australian design including the iconic Featherston wing sound chairs and hostess uniforms designed by Zara Holt, wife of then prime minister Harold Holt.

Modernism also inspired new forms of public art and design like the abstract fountains by Tom Bass on Sydney’s former P&O building and Robert Woodward’s El Alamein Memorial Fountain, a popular tourist site in Sydney’s Kings Cross. Modernism shaped an exultant explosion of experiment as part of the Space Age informing such spectacular architectural feats as Roy Grounds’ dome for the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra and Jørn Utzon’s internationally-acclaimed Sydney Opera House, both featured in the exhibition.”

Text by Ruzan Haruriunyan, “Modern Times: Untold Story Of Modernism In Australia,” on the Huliq News website [Online] Cited 20/02/2019

 

Heide II

Heide II

 

Hedie II photographs by Rory Hyde. More photos of Heide are on his Flickr photoset

 

 

Heide II – commissioned by John and Sunday Reed 1963, designed 1964, constructed 1964-67

Designed by Melbourne architect David McGlashan of McGlashan Everist, it was intended as “a gallery to be lived in” and served as the Reeds’ residence between 1967 and 1980. The building is considered one of the best examples of modernist architecture in Victoria and awarded the Royal Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter) Bronze Medal – the highest award for residential architecture in the State – in 1968. It is currently used to display works from the Heide Collection and on occasion projects by contemporary artists.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992) 'Australia Square Tower' 1968

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
Australia Square: a keyhole to the future [Australia Square Tower]
1968
Gelatin silver print
49.9 × 39.2 cm
Courtesy of Max Dupain and Associates

 

Jeff Carter. 'At the Pasha Nightclub, Cooma' c.1957-59

 

Jeff Carter (Australian, 1928-2010)
At the Pasha Nightclub, Cooma
c. 1957-59
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Modern Times: The Untold Story of Modernism in Australia, edited by Ann Stephen, Philip Goad and Andrew McNamara, Powerhouse Publishing, 2008 (paperback).

Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road,
Bulleen, Victoria 3105

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday
Public holidays
10am – 5pm

Heide Museum of Art website

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03
Jun
09

Review: ‘John Beard: After Image’ paintings at John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 20th May – 6th June, 2009

 

John Beard. 'Darwin' 2009

 

John Beard
Darwin
2009

 

 

The final exhibition of the afternoon were the ephemeral images of John Beard at John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne. This was an enthralling show that I enjoyed tremendously. Beard draws in a multitude of cultural sources for his paintings often referencing painters, scientists, animals and evolution. His work has an intimate sense of knowing, a meditative mediation on the essence of the object being painted, the very presence of the thing itself. The marks on the canvas may be intuitive but it is an informed intuition that results in works that hover at the edge of consciousness. As much as the works are after images, or ghost images, they are also about the persistence of vision, the persistence of the artists vision in addressing issues of collective memory and cultural history that draw emotive responses from the viewer.

These images may be ‘on the verge of disappearance’ as an after-image but they are also pre-images as well, conjured from the mind of the artist and layered with complexity, presence and holistic wholeness. Their seduction, if I may use that word, is that they draw from the viewer peripheral memories and emotions that flit at the edges of consciousness. As Portugese curator Isabel Carlos has noted, … Beard recreates a ‘figural’ space where the essence of the thing represented lies beyond its singular physical evidence.”1

Beard’s fragmented surfaces form a rhizomic web of dissolved pixellation, their structure almost fractal like in their linked hyper-real intimacies. These in between spaces open up the possibility of subversive commentaries that, on one level, bring a sense of disquiet to the holistic presence of the work. As Mark Poster has noted of the work of Deleuze and Guittari and which can be aptly applied to the work of John Beard,

“Deleuze and Guittari configure the social as a complex of bodily intensities in a state of continuous nonlinear movement. The logic they present is multidimensional, shifting, discontinuous. They speak of strata, assemblages, territorializations, lines of flight, abstract machines, a congerie of terms that disrupts the function of concepts to control a field through discursive articulations. Their categories cut through the normal lines of comprehension, the binary logic that governs modern social theory to present a picture of reality from the perspective of a sort of primitive life force. It is as if the earth itself were to describe the changes on its surface in the course of human history, a vantage point quote remote from the ego of the individual or from the disciplined consciousness of the social scientist.”2

.
Nonlinear, logical, shifting territorializations in multidimensional environments that hover below the edge of consciousness, investigations into the binary of presence/absence in the dreams of the imaginary. Powerful and poetic these works irradiate the viewer with their visceral presence.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

  1. Isabel Carlos quoted in Wright, William. HEADLANDS: John Beard works 1993 – 2008. Catalogue essay
  2. Poster, Mark. The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990, pp. 135-137

 

John Beard. 'Gorilla' 2007

 

John Beard
Gorilla
2007

 

John Beard. 'After image' installation at John Buckley Gallery

 

Installation view of John Beard’s exhibition After image at John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne

 

John Beard. 'Hand 6' 2009

 

John Beard
Hand 6
2009

 

John Beard. 'Head SP3' 2004

 

John Beard
Head SP3
2004

 

 

“Beard’s paintings often convey an overpowering sense of brooding stillness, but equally this volatile effervescence of light-reverberant phenomena, where head, headland, the Adraga rock, are no longer object so much as apparition, a painted parallel existence, a material presence invoking nature’s own organic processes …

There is a distinctive sense when encountering a body of John Beard’s works of entering into a site of composure, withheld, of images silently bespeaking truths both personal and historical; hovering presences each conveying some species quality of time-less recognition.”

William Wright 
from the catalogue essay HEADLANDS: John Beard works 1993 – 2008 [Online] Cited 29/05/2009 no longer available online

 

John Beard. 'Rose' 2007

 

John Beard
Rose
2007

 

John Beard. 'Einstein 2' 2009

 

John Beard
Einstein 2
2009

 

John Beard. 'Rembrandt' 2009

 

John Beard
Rembrandt
2009

 

 

John Buckley Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

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01
Jun
09

Review: ‘McLean Edwards: Songs from the Ghost Ship’ at Karen Woodury Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 20th May – 13th June 2009

 

McLean Edwards. 'Fifty-Fifty' 2009

 

McLean Edwards (Australian, b. 1972)
Fifty-Fifty
2009

 

 

The next show on our marvellous walkabout were the eclectic paintings of McLean Edwards at Karen Wodbury Gallery, Melbourne. Continuing the carnivalesque theme from the previous review these heterogeneous paintings are a knockout with their wonderful, layered presence – they really command the viewer to look at them and celebrate the characters within them. Whimsical, ironic and full of humour these phantasmagorical images of creatures cast adrift with the night sky as background are fabulous assemblages of colour, form and storytelling.

Further to the evidences noted in the text on the website (the coils, the curling smoke, the starry night sky) one can also say other things about the paintings. There is an effervescence of colour within the blocking of clothing areas. There is the disproportionate size of the hands and bulbous noses of the characters, the shortening of the feet so that the figures almost become caricatures – but hold back from this through the mastery of the painting, through the intent of the artist. There is the symbology of other elements within the pictures: a doll with pins stuck in it’s body being clasped in a clumpy hand, a small house protruding over the protagonists shoulder (Fifty-Fifty); beetles on tree stumps with human faces (Hey, Bastard, Hey); and flowers, teapots and small humans appearing from around the edges of the larger characters in several of the works (Julia 1 and Night Nurse #2 for example). The numbers in the paintings were also puzzling but it turns out that they represent the age of the artist when he painted the works.

Finally one must acknowledge the carnivalesque in the paintings – their fun at playing dress-ups, the almost Alice in Wonderland fantasy and humour of the characterisations. There is an almost androgynous feeling to these characters as some of the female faces seem almost male. Personally I had a feeling that the artist is investigating the subconscious of Carl Jung’s ‘anima’ and ‘animus’ – the feminine inner personality of the male (anima) and the masculine inner personality of the female (animus). These states are manifested by appearing as figures in dreams and so they seem here: the anima or animus vies for attention by projecting itself onto others, here projecting itself outwards onto the painted surface.

My friend and I really enjoyed this exhibition. We were captivated by these songs, going back to the work again and again to tease out the details, to feel connection to the work. These are not lonely isolated figures but sublime emanations of inner states of being expertly rendered in glorious colour. And they made us laugh – what more could you ask for!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

McLean Edwards. Installation of 'Songs from the Ghost Ship' at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

McLean Edwards. Installation of 'Songs from the Ghost Ship' at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation views of McLean Edwards: Songs from the Ghost Ship at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

 

McLean Edwards. 'Venus' 2009

 

McLean Edwards (Australian, b. 1972)
Venus
2009

 

McLean Edwards. 'Hey, Bastard, Hey' 2009

 

McLean Edwards (Australian, b. 1972)
Hey, Bastard, Hey
2009

 

McLean Edwards. 'Restoration' 2009

 

McLean Edwards (Australian, b. 1972)
Restoration
2009

 

 

“McLean’s works are theatrical, comical, eccentric and often political with the employment of symbolic imagery. His painting technique involves a painterly layering to create a defined and textured surface.

In this most recent series, Songs from the Ghost Ship, semi-fictional characters are set against the dark starry night sky. The exhibition includes nine oil paintings in addition to four works on paper. One of the works on paper shares its name with the exhibition, depicting a jumpered man with a white ghost looking over his shoulder.

The ink on paper work introduces a theme prominent throughout the exhibition, that of wafting smoke. Emanating either from a clasped cigarette or an iconic green curled mosquito coil, the smoke, in elegant strokes of white, grey, tan or black, draw the eye to the face of the central figures. The figures, often with the light of the moon or stars behind them only partially illuminating their faces, stare into the distance or coyly at the viewer, almost unaware of their solitary state against the night sky. The coil appears elsewhere, surreptitiously working its way into the dark pink weave of Twiggy’s jacket, or the blue and red dress of Venus, in the tyre marks of the Arctic Traveller or the grassy landscape in Hey, Bastard, Hey. The soft curl and filigree detail of both the smoke and the mosquito coil are similarly echoed by elements in other works, through the organic features of flowers, leaves and bugs.

Adrift at night, these haunting figures are about to embark on a journey, either from the wharf at the edge of an ocean, as in Venus, or across the vast ice of the Arctic, through the mist and smoke.”

Text from the Karen Woodbury website [Online] Cited 28/05/2009 no longer available online

 

McLean Edwards. 'For Elsa (Twiggy)' 2009

 

McLean Edwards (Australian, b. 1972)
For Elsa (Twiggy)
2009

 

McLean Edwards. 'Night Nurse #2' 2009

 

McLean Edwards (Australian, b. 1972)
Night Nurse #2
2009

 

 

Karen Woodbury Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

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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: ‘Mask’ 1994

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