Monday, July 21, 2014
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.
16th July – 16th August 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
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!
the layman reviewer
Thursday, July 10, 2014
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.
2nd July - 27th July 2014
Friday, July 4, 2014
Seventy five small works, all torn from sketchbooks created from many trips across the world and out her back door.
‘Syd Sleeping’ watercolour & gouache on paper, 10x10cm, 1997, a wonderfully high spirited cattle dog which always met you with extreme exuberance, I will never forget the day I rocked up to Amanda’s place and he had almost eaten the sofa. His coat was a rich rust, soft and cuddly with soul piercing eyes and this little painting shows me a Syd I never saw.
‘Meat’ graphite & gouache on paper, 2013. Yes it is a piece of meat, just sitting precariously on the edge of a small table tempting fate or waiting patiently to be coated in oil and herbs. It has this come hither appeal to it, the deep dark blood red and the opaque colour of thick fat, this work is as subtle as a sledgehammer and I love it!
‘Wilcannia’ oil on paper, 27x34cm, 2014 is a sheer delight, stands out as an almost favourite. It’s sly weather conditions lures you in, making you pack your towel and cosy and then when you get there all hell breaks loose.
Amanda’s landscapes have slowly matured like a damn good Merlot and is also allowing them to evolve further for lasting appreciation, I’m half and half of wanting to compare them to Tom Roberts and Philip Wolfhagen getting plastered, ok I said it! Her ability to navigate between mediums, still lifes, portraiture and landscape and don’t forget the odd Caravan blinged sculpture is a testament to her commitment to the craft and her existence on this planet.
10th June - 5th July 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Factory 49 openings are always enjoyable affairs with a mix of amicable artists and supporters. The work is always fresh, challenging and strong. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the non-objective to make the effort to see this current group show Paper@ Factory 49.
Barbara Halnan presents 4 vertical panels created with her own complex process to arrive at a sequence of shapes and colours. The result is a series that becomes ultimately an aesthetically beautiful experience for the viewer. They are enhanced by the use of metallic and graphite powders bound with Damar Varnish.
Jonathon Christie’s gouaches are an interplay of lively music like shapes with a seemingly chromatic counterbalance to harness the activity. Playful and exuberant he backs up his references with an academic knowledge contemporary art and context.
Even more playful is Julia Kennedy-Bell’s 3d paper sculpture and 2d wall piece. High key colours with a deliberate handmade quality make these pieces energetic and fun.
Liz Shreeve contributes her usual technically mind bogglingly created pieces that reveal something new from whichever angle you view. Her pieces are borne from the building blocks of nature and are synthesised into these intricate patterned pieces.
Kate Mackay’s squares within squares echo her personal shape and colour vocabulary. It vibrates with energy while confined within the construct of its formal grid.
Also showing are a fascinating series of graphite on Fabriano paper by India Zegan which is amazing in its textural intricacy and Stephen Wickham’s neon colour saturated digital prints round off an eclectic range of visual possibilities using paper as the core material.
26th June - 5th July 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
The month of May brought two international artists, Christine Boiry (France) and Wahida Azhari (Germany) to our shores. Through the increasing connections made possible by social media they were able to bring their unique creative processes for us to view. Such is the power of Facebook they were welcomed, dined and entertained for the entire month by numbers of accommodating local artists who were rewarded with warmth and insightful conversation.
Their spare non objective approaches culminated in two exhibitions in Sydney.
The first one at Articulate Project Space saw them teaming up with regular co exhibitors Shawn Stipling (Great Britian) and Bogumila Stronjna (Poland) in a show titled The Blue Square Project. The square is offered as a challenge to reinterpret its constraints as a traditional format and its historical use as the basis for abstract art in the 20th Century. The show was curated by Stronjna.
Each artist had their own conflict with the shape in an effort to bring movement, dynamism and commentary into their individual installations.
Stipling utilises the suffocating affect the directive had upon him by commentating on the staidness of British housing architecture and perhaps unwillingness to employ creative vision in an increasingly pragmatic culture. Stronjna creates a lovely wall and floor assemblage where the fragmented square has been a long-time visual vocabulary for her. Boiry creates a beautiful cascade of retangular shapes using the whole gamut of blues from cerulean to ultramarine meticulously sequenced to create movement and rhythm while Azhari’s minimalist work is a painstaking emphasis on the dynamism of the negative space between two small blue diagonal forms.
The second show a Factory 49 with Boiry and Azhari sharing the space explored similar ground without the restraint of colour limitations. The space vibrated with energy and contemplative emptiness.
17th May - 1st June 2014