Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sarah Cottier Gallery - Matt Hinkley & Christopher Hanrahan

Matt Hinkley creates sculptural assemblages that are conspicuous in their inconspicuous scale.  They are tiny and hung from the ceiling in numbers from fine irregularly bent wire.  The wire itself looks like calligraphic lines concluding in these quirky colourful artworks made from synthetic bits and pieces. Unlike his work in Biennale 14 these minute works can’t be accidentally missed in the gallery environment and demands up close observation.  The works are suspended at eye level as you walk through the space and are like a joyful act of discovery as each piece comes into focus.

In the other space is a reductive abstract installation of thin welded steel, material and an electric light by Christopher Hanrahan who is now resident in New York.  His work once more figurative and literal has perhaps, under the influence of his current location taken on a more formal address and interplay of space and materiality.  The steel is sometimes bent with fragility and other times rigid with strength. The welds, precious bronze, are conspicuously rough and organic.  There is intent in each detail.

It is glowing, composed and creates a presence that differs in the way Hinkley does.  Together they are a treat appealing to different sensibilities as an art experience.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

7th August – 30th August 2014

Cstudios Art Gallery - Geoffrey Breen

Light certainly is the headline act at Cstudios Art Gallery this month. Dappled, intense, subdued, forensic. It occupies and transcends developing atmosphere and presence.

Geoffrey Breen is the exhibiting artist responsible for this beauty and exquisite cheeriness. Breen utilises colour in shadow to develop a depth that seizes the realism. He simultaneously gives credit to the imaginative interior with complimentary hues butting together to describe shape. Tracking the meandering light within a room is captured with high key patterning and the weightless and dappled paint application further accentuates this design. There is a Henri Matisse feel to these exquisite interiors with Breen also adopting the use of line drawing within a painting to allow the room to be described without the scrutiny of detail.

As significant as the large interiors are a group of smaller framed pieces detailing kitchen paraphernalia. Utensils are rendered with earthy tones allowing dark underpainting to peek through giving definition and weight. The desirable quality of the luscious paint in these works is sumptuous. Although these paintings diminish within the gallery space there is a quality that appeals and maybe surpasses the dominant interiors.

Breen’s world of interiors acknowledges the fact somewhat surreptitiously of the importance of a secure place to call home. Although perhaps not the intent of the exhibition this is the moving consequence and sympathies ensue as to the displaced in our world that cannot envision the unique comfort we in our pursuit for ever more tend to take for granted.

However due to the fickle nature of the human and the rapidity of shifting emotion one soon recognises the skill of the artist and abandons the sentimentality and superficial concern for our fellow beings that is quite typical of us of comfortable means.

The talent of Geoffrey Breen can be viewed at Cstudios Art Gallery until the 31st August.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

9th August - 30th August 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Queen Street Gallery - Shelley Burnham

Shelley Burnham has been called one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists.

Her unique and captivating style has seen her paintings collected throughout Australia and the rest of the world.

Shelley’s paintings are executed with a deep sensitivity for her subject and an obsessive passion for her craft.  Her great love and appreciation for the Australian landscape are demonstrated in her work with great depths of colour and movement.  Her quirky sense of humour and acute observations of life are also a central theme in her paintings which reflect a sense of childlike honesty and purity.

Shelley’s raw approach to her paintings mixed with an incredible attention to detail makes her a highly sought after artist.

This new series, which took over 3 years to complete is titled ‘Time moved on so I stayed behind’. It’s a collection that demonstrates Shelley’s observations of everyday life, highlighting our constant attempts to fit more into the time we have, and how we often don’t stay still long enough to appreciate the special moments.  Shelley expresses her interpretation of her upcoming exhibition, “Our lives are moving so quickly and we are all so busy.  We are all looking for some calm and peace in our lives and I have tried to portray that feeling in my work.”

Shelley lives in Randwick with her musician husband, Joe Burnham and two sons. This is Shelley’s tenth solo exhibition.

Liz Deep-Jones

11th August – 17th August 2014
Queen Street Gallery, 28 Queen Street, Woollahra, Sydney

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Newcastle Art Space - John Moroney & Paul Maher

The talented artist Paul Maher had me chugging along merrily anticipating a silent commune with his latest offering at Newcastle Art Space.  But behold the hour cometh whereupon I witnessed the astounding flair for fine art of the young whippersnapper John Moroney.  Now I’m not being facetious here.  This fellow had pumped out a torrent of spectacular drawings that had me in awe. Piece after piece in his exhibition “Dissonance” demonstrated his life-drawing skills and not one had snags in regard to foreshortening or perspective difficulties.

Moroney’s ability however does not cease at technical prowess.  Attention is seized through a myriad of techniques where brush, charcoal, ink and water are teased and manipulated to create a push and pull outcome within his art.  This fractious base permits his work to be raised above that proud achievement of finding likeness in drawing to the divine heights of soul in art.  He’s one to keep an eye out for.

And now Paul Maher. “Walking the Square Mile” did not disappoint.  There’s an eager pleasure in the art of Maher who I discovered earlier in the year at Four Point Gallery.  A fresh approach to drawing found in his computer derived work delves into those murky waters of what constitutes drawing.  But it’s all happening here with the spontaneity and looseness creating movement that’s teasing with its cool lingo.  Colour is languid and easy working well against the casual line.

The earthy tones in Maher’s paintings expose a peaceful Newcastle easy to perceive and engage with. It’s not only the expressive creativity at work here but also a rich application of paint that pleases and rewards.  In the end the audience is allowed to observe the everyday become extraordinary. 

Both exhibitions emerge successfully in the sea of artistic endeavours ensconcing “our town” at present. Paul Maher’s intriguing eye and John Moroney’s supurb skill are on display until the 17th August at NAS.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

31st July - 17th August 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Airspace Projects - Playbox-Anie Nheu & Jan Fieldsend

In the relatively new Airspace Projects in Marrickville a collaborative installation by Anie Nheu and Jan Fieldsend is currently on show.

Presented are disparate objects, images and assemblages that tap into subliminal memory without being too literal or specific in references.  A pool of social, emotional and cultural inferences is at play here as is the considered use of space.

This collaboration I found to be evocative in an intimate way as these everyday remnants of humanity present ordinariness as extraordinary.  It is a grand statement coming from the periphery.

As an overview there is a spontaneous fresh feel to this show.   Individually and collectively the pieces engage with a cohesive and playful mix of textures, tonalities, and at times reductive hard edge imagery.  Importantly they strive for an aesthetic beauty which is sometimes lost at the expense of concept.  The install and use of space also adds to the sense of immediacy as an important facet of their creative process.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

1st – 16th August 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Annandale Galleries - The Edge Emerging Artists

The high profile commercial gallery owned by Bill Gregory, the Annandale Gallery is hosting a group show of contemporary, non objective and conceptual art under the title of ‘The Edge Emerging Artists’.

This show is fresh, vibrant and sophisticated. It challenges the often staid offerings of so called established art with its unselfconscious uncompromised bravado. The serendipity and adventurousness is compellingly enhanced by the anonymity of being ‘emerging artist’.

The fact is that perhaps in this environment the work is on the edge and the artists are emerging. In reality this network of artist have cut their teeth developing their processes, exhibiting, collaborating and making connections over time that has seen them ‘emerge’ creatively well before now and such is the nature of creativity will continue to emerge throughout their artistic lives. As the large buzzing crowd will testify the artists have been followed and supported for years through spaces such as SNO, The Articulate Projectspace and Factory 49 amongst others.

Much credit goes to the Annandale Gallery for hosting this show in a space that truly does it justice. For the artists it is a rare opportunity to see their work in such ideal conditions.

The Bright inventive floor pieces of Chris Packer and Susan Buret allows the show to leave the walls and mingle with the crowd. The bold colours and patterns of Sophia Egarchos are commanding images as is the subtle near white forms of June Sartracom. Suzie Idiens once again delights with her shiny super smooth colour pieces that I’m reliably informed were oddly a temptation to lick by a number of patrons. One figurative piece from Catherine O’Donnel is a hyper real charcoal depiction of the urban environment. It is typically a technical tour de force. The contributions across the board are equally as excellent as the viewers all had varying opinions over what they found most engaging.

This show is aesthetically beautiful and conceptually challenging and if viewed with an open mind you will be richly rewarded for your efforts.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

16th July – 16th August 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Layman Reviewer - Newsie Snippets

Exhibitions included are Francis Celtan’s selected works at Cstudios, Three At Sea at Four Point Gallery, Verve at Back to Back Gallery, Janet de Vries and Robert Loughran at Nanshe Gallery and Gyprock Cave at Art Systems Wickham.

Well I’ve been out and about looking at art but I haven’t made much headway on the reviewing platform of late.  That doesn’t mean the art hasn’t been worthy however.  It’s just that elusive beast time.  So I thought I’d give a little run down of what’s been out there.  But first let me tell you about some art that’s out there now.

There’s a great gallery opened up in Hunter St called Cstudios Art Gallery. Those of you who’ve lived in and around Newcastle for years would know the space as the titillating Bellvue Hotel. It’s had a makeover and has really come into its own now as a gallery. Last weekend a new exhibition opened by a well-known local Francis Celtan. His selected works are a brilliant display of vibrant colour. The restrained technique is balanced against a creative zeal that speaks dialogue and intrigue. It’s all so nice and pretty but there’s something lurking in the depths and my guess is the narrow field of perfection and happiness that’s pursued relentlessly by all and sundry. Celtan grasps that untouchable brute and lets the viewer wallow in it.

Also at CStudios is a collection of work by various artists in the Hunter room.  Stand outs for me include Geoffrey Breen’s still life's, Vivienne Nelson’s take on the humble veggie and Mark Berryman’s pointy dogs. 

Across the road at Four Point Gallery is a weird collection of art by the Sutherland family.  I say weird because it took me a while to observe and decipher.  Of course in every exhibition there is going to be work that speaks far louder to the viewer than others.   In this exhibition “Three At Sea” the plight of a boat engorged with humanity pelts wretchedness.  It’s a piece that lingers.  There are also some great little paintings in there that I loved because of the quality of the brush mark.

And now to some exhibitions that have been and “gawn”.

At Back to Back Galleries in June the Painters Ink exhibited a collection of their work.  Sadly this group of inspiring ladies lost one of their cohorts this year.  Penny Warner-Smith will be remembered sincerely.  The group have exhibited annually for a number of years now and in this exhibition there were a few little gems.  Shelagh Lummis has certainly mastered the horse.  A couple of her paintings really hit the spot along with Stephanie Berick’s vision of the landscape.  However the real “Punch and Judy” of the clan would have to be the massed grouping of vessels by ceramicist Sharon Taylor. They worked a treat!

 Red dots prevailed at Nanshe Gallery where an exhibition by Janet de Vries and Robert Loughran ran with gusto.  Loughran has the ability to create a soft ambiance, light treated with delicacy.  It was an interesting combination of talents with de Vries pleasing the public with sharply rendered images of Newcastle. It’s always s a crowd pleasing venture the old “Newie” painting.  Not my “cup-o- tea” though!

Last but certainly not least was an exhibition by Matthew Tome titled Gyprock Cave.  There are images out there and then there’s art.  This had the heads up for me because it captures the mystery of an internal dialogue that’s happening within the artist.  And to top it off the raw and gritty piled on paint had an impulse and beat like a screaming banshee.  It was steely, brave and thrashy.  And it shows that Newcastle has it happening.  Ya just gotta get out there and look for it!

So that’s it.  I would’ve liked to have made it to Newcastle Art Space to see John Morris’s Visibility and Rachel Milne’s Interiors exhibitions but again that elusive beast.  Till next time, happy art watching!

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

the layman reviewer

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gallery 9 - Suzie Idiens

Gallery 9 presents the new show All Things Being Equal by Suzie Idiens.

Gone are the rich vibrant colours that characterise much of her earlier work for a body that is across the board completely non chromatic black. This uniformity creates a challenge in producing the energy and engagement required using elements other than colour. In the way that written words in black each express a different meaning to these works, when viewed as a narrative contain beautiful variations in it’s finish and architecture.

The result is a satisfying low key but highly evocative body of work. Ranging from gloss to matte to texture each piece explores the poetry of variation and sameness. The manufactured feel polyurethane surfaces Idiens produces are still evident here characterising the work as her own unique process where the hand of the artist appears almost redundant.

The sparsely hung works occupy all of the rooms and hall in the gallery and was for me a meditative experience. Although the black is a neutral black the works exude a warmth or coolness as the light changes around it. The balance of the show may eventuate in equality but certainly not in the context of sameness.

It has more to do with the shedding of the superfluous elements leaving the bare essentials to create the maximum impact.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

2nd July - 27th July 2014