Friday, December 20, 2013

Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery - Eutick Memorial Still Life Award - 2013

The Eutick Memorial Still Life Awards is the only still life award in Australia and is acquisitional and exists by virtue of the philanthropy of Dr. Mal Eutick as a legacy to his late parents.  The winner receives a prize of $18,000 plus the opportunity for their own exhibition.  Judges this year were art critic John McDonald and Director of the Grafton Regional Gallery Jude McBean.

The winning painting “The Empty Vase” by John Bokor was controversial and McDonald at the critics floor talk told the audience that it “took you into the nitty-gritty of how a painting was made. There were more complex paintings completed with greater finesse, the struggle and life in this painting appealed to me”.

Bokor who lives at Bulli in NSW is a painter of landscape and still life. He does not arrange objects preferring to paint what he finds around him.  The irony of this winning painting is that it has had another life in that it was already exhibited at King Street Gallery on William as an entirely different painting.  However, Bokor decided to repaint it as he considered it unresolved. It was scraped back and many of the original objects were eliminated.  The vase indeed originally held flowers.

The painting is bold and unabashed, almost dishevelled yet stark. The perspective is hovering and oblique, a glance almost.  The colours are strident but not alarming and the black background is gloomy, as if the objects themselves are attempting not to be consumed by the void.  The empty vase suggests a loss.  Of all the paintings in the exhibition, it has the most sense of the instant to me, unstudied but noticed.

Other paintings of note include those by Ted Hillyer “Still Life” an interior composition with pot plants, fruit and light bulb (notable for it’s composition and mood), Sara Wade “Vacant Posessions” an assemblage of vacant chairs (notable for the presence the chairs emanate), and Pam Tippett “Red Onions in Plastic Bag” which is just that (notable for it’s technical excellence and beauty).

Still life as a genre has been around since time immemorial, however it came into it’s pinnacle through the Dutch artists of the 16th Century.

The EMSLA as an exhibition has covered all types of interpretations, including the classical, the abstract, the detailed and the clever.  Technically fine detailed paintings hang with those made with broad brushstrokes and some rely on little more than their title to deliver their punchline.

The Mike Blewitt Coffs Coast Motors Sponsors Prize was won by Matthew Quick for “Remedial Measures”, a painting which symbolises the strangulation of Chinese growth by varying measures. The local artists prizes donated by Haydyn Dennis of Estuary Residential Estate were awarded to Isabel Rickets for “Drunk” and Laurie Mossuto for “Still Alive”.   Rickett’s work incorporates acrylic, collage, graphite and charcoal and is aesthetically pleasing in an abstractive style.  Mossuto is a previous EMSLA winner and this work is graphic in both it’s style and statement.

Gallery Director Dr. Leigh Summers is keen to have the EMSLA embrace all interpretations of still life.  2013 saw 230 entries, 70 hung works representing 57 artists, 11 of which are from the local region.  The exhibition will travel to the Parliament of NSW in Sydney from 31 March to 2 May 2014.  We can now only look forward to EMSLA 2014 to see what fresh aspects might be exhibited.

Mark it in your diary!

Tammy Mills-Thom
Guest Reviewer for Coffs Harbour

16th November 2013 – 18th January 2014

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Damien Minton Gallery - One Night Stand - Connie Anthes

As a part of Damien Minton’s One Night Stand series of shows, Connie Anthes’s highly anticipated ‘Low Relief” exhibition opened last Tuesday Night 17/12/2013.  On entering the gallery we are confronted with two gunmetal grey plan drawers one on top of the other facing opposite directions. They sat in the centre of the space surrounded by completely bare walls.

The perceptiveness to conceive the potential of utilising these drawers, purchased from the now extinct Sydney map shop, and the curating of 20 disparate artists of wide ranging level’s of experience and profile is the genius in Anthes’s project.  20 drawers and 20 artists each asked to respond to the original labels on the drawer they’d been allocated, eg Australian Relief, LGA Maps, Asia Pacific Continents, etc.  Exhibitors include Noel Mckenna, Ian Milliss and Peter Sharp.

The effect of this is the creation of a gallery within a gallery where the viewer is compelled to consider the works one at a time with serendipity and a tilted perspective enabling a fresh experience of art viewing.   I found a heightened sense of anticipation as each drawer revealed a treasure trove of creativity.

Some inviting in interaction, as in Eric Niebuhr’s piece, that contained a mobile phone with which you converse with the artist real time addressing his assigned topic, or Madeleine Preston’s drawer of objects inviting you to remove and read books and eat supplied studio snacks.  Other drawers contained paintings, objects, prints etc. All contributors seemed to rise to the challenge that often inspired interesting departures from their usual practises.

The ephemeral nature of a show being open for just one night intensified the experience reflected in the buoyant crowd that somehow instinctively found a way to experience the art in an effective orderly manner.

Text by Glenn Lockee
Photographs by Jim Anderson

17th December 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Drawing Room - Maryanne Coutts

Does one look at this work as a whole or as a work in parts? Either way 'Dress Code' suggests to be much more than the sum of its parts.

Each individual small scale work is the painter's response to getting dressed and to the evidence of vision, one imagines a quick furtive glance in the mirror.  The viewer imagines the artist is doing so with a sense of satisfaction, a degree of anticipation of the day's planning and some form of joy of being able to create work out of the mundane.  As anyone involved in art education will attest, many days pass without much serious work, unless you want to say that art teaching is serious work, which it is by the way.

Not as serious as getting dressed though and Maryanne Coutts proves the point in this rather stunning collection of works over a period of about six months.  Colour and pattern is the order of the day and the pose is often one of: here I go.  There are images in there that are as fluid as the day that comes and then there are those that are as tentative as the start of a drawing class. 

Days can go either way.

Jelle van den Berg

1st October - 2nd November 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Damien Minton Gallery - Louise Tuckwell

The titles of each work read out like segments from a love story, the good the bad and the ugly but ultimately end in that passionate embrace of love making after that volatile fight.

Louise Tuckwell has proven once and again that her work is as passionate, growing from strength to strength, painting killer lines as sharp as a knifes edge, her powerful colour combinations to soften any blunt force trauma and broadcasting it to the world that her paintings and tapestries are to die for.

‘I want it’ is what I overheard quite a few people were saying at the opening and ‘I want it bad’ some said and I hope those made a concerted effort with a deposit.

‘Release Me’ acrylic on birch wall relief 300x200x600mm is a sexy slice of licorice allsorts, if I could eat it then there would be a bite taken out of it. ‘Encode + Transmit’ acrylic on two birch panels, 530x630mm is not going to reveal it’s secrets after one kiss but maybe after some long lingering looks.

‘Informal Relation’ acrylic on five birch panels, 225x1020mm will however entice you onto that gorgeous soft green sofa and whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

These new works will most likely leave a lasting impression on my sensitive persuasion and hopefully keep that flame burning bright.

Fleur MacDonald
10th September - 21st September 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dominik Mersch Gallery - Isidro Blasco

Hailing from Spain and residing in New York, Isidro Blasco has blessed us here in Sydney with a gob smacking delight of a show at Dominik Mersch Gallery in the Danks Street Waterloo complex in Sydney. On close inspection the work was intense with an attention to detail to rival anyone with obsessive intent.

Photograph’s taken, laminated, folded to replicate floor boards, architraves and door ways of each interior/exterior. The backing supports are reminicent of my time in the 80’s working backstage for a number of Theatre companies in Brisbane as there is enough wood and foam board to build an actual life size stage set.

‘Zero Gravity House’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware, 48x66x18 cm has chairs floating or most likely suspended from the ceiling, with each chair leg made into relief. My eyes were drawn to the Biedermeier and then the tall boy and continued on to check out every nook and cranny. Chairs are the focal point in this piece, 24 of them either hanging from the ceiling, at the forefront or tucked into a corner and everything else became irrelevant.

‘Penelope’s House’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 20x56x9 cm being an Architecturally designed house allows for a perfect fold out of the width of the interior, from window to window and stairs in the middle, fireplace to the grand piano. Penelope’s house is simplistic in design but the most effective I found.

‘Anita’s Garage’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 20x55x9 cm was almost identical as Penelope’s house as it’s from one side to the other, representing the extent of the working artist with canvas’s and drawings hung. The floor is sparse as room is needed for much pacing from one end to the other and standing in front of the works for final completion.

‘House with Basement’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 20x50x10 cm was one to look at, at first glance you miss it but if you angled your head you’d see him looking back at you.

‘East FM’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 25x42x11 cm a non domestic interior but a place of work and somewhere I’ve visited to talk about Art. It’s all about the angles, capturing every centimeter of the work space and transforming it and I would have to take a wild guess at how many photograph’s Blasco would take in each interior let alone the entire show. There was a great little video on how Blasco put this show together on the Galleries website which revealed the start to finish.

 ‘The Doll House’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 30x36x11 cm, it’s not just the photo’s but the supports could well be the star of the show, with a 2D work you may just lose the want to look at the intensity of detail from each folded photograph, following each shelf to find something new about it’s inhabitants lifestyle. The occupant Christine Myerscough was blown away with the fact that her shelves became alive more so than when she is there in person. That fact accounts for something as these works were so theatrical that they demanded an audience and you can feel their prescence as soon as you walked into the Gallery.

A wonderful way to showcase a room or in this case a hallway with, ‘The Consul’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 24x36x9 cm, revealing an intimate collection of paintings, photograph’s and objects. I kept coming back to this piece as I was quite partial to it, it’s created to reveal a distant room, just one long view to a point and I’m left wondering what was in that end room.

Blasco’s interiors offer a moving narrative to the ongoings of domestic life, just not all were the interior of a home or office but also a vehicle as in ‘The Godess II’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 12x24x8 cm. The Citroen DS-9 was and always will be the perfect car and how wonderful to represent it in this way, a salute to it’s designer. Folded out into a way to showcase it’s bedroom like interior in three sections showing off passenger and driver’s seat, it’s superb comfort enhanced by it’s retro colour scheme.

‘Book Shelf’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 38x32x10 was one of my favourite’s as I found it strangely comforting that someone else’s many books and magazines have a home when mine sit waiting on the studio floor. The extention of the shelves reveal the supports and gives it an added dimension. It’s bulging at the seams but more can be added I’m sure.

The larger work ‘Gale Edwards’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware 80x100x5 cm was an entire house walking in from the front door and almost to the back door, a life time in theatre unfolded infront of us. Four levels of display revealing the inner workings of this house which comes across as being larger than life, each room was filled to the maxium and stylized to within an inch of it’s life.

Each work seemed to leap off the wall as Blasco has taken each location to another level, his earlier work was more exteriors and were much larger and more compacted. His use of colour enhancement within the printing process seemed to give a more surreal affect which changed our perception.

‘QVB’ C-Print on museum board, wood and hardware, 80x125x21cm gave us a birds eye view perched in the right place to show a panaramic of the interior of this grand old lady, helping us to notice elements that we’ve never seen before and making us to consider going back to discover for ourselves.

That’s what it is all about, rediscovering a new way to see beyond what we already see, redefining our perception of how we all live, some maybe more dramatic than others but it’s our way to create a comfortable existence.

Although to define that existence would have been better to showcase the work only on three walls instead of the entire gallery, this exhibition needed a lot of space around it, hanging it on every available wall space just made it fall into a schasm of confusion and to retain the integrity of each work would have produced a far more powerful response on arrival.

Blasco is one to look out for as what’s his next fold going to be.

Fleur MacDonald
10th August - 7th September 2013