Thursday, September 25, 2014

Drawing Room - Fleur MacDonald

Of all of the hats that Fleur MacDonald wears, including being founder of she has always been first and foremost an accomplished artist.

Her latest show at the drawing room once again proves this with her ordinary transformed into the extraordinary view of the world.  She shines the spotlight on the humble and shows us the beauty there within.

As a former house painter she has found an affinity for these objects, a carpenter’s pencil, a set of pliers or a painter’s brush…..always things that have a subliminal connection with her that are a trigger for a more complex consequence.  Having of late shown at King on William, James Dorahy Project space and producing her first non objective piece at Artspace in an Ian Milliss curated show Fleur has approached this new show with an armory of disparate elements which she orchestrates seamlessly into a cohesive exhibition.  Photography, pure abstraction and figurative painting make up this body of work that is never predictable or dull.  They are images fused with familiarity presented with an at times a quirky humour (look for the dropped pencil on the railway platform and the appearance of Giorgio Pengee, the Sixtoeight penguin mascot) and an assured painter’s hand.

The dominate subject matter is the railway platform at Faulconbridge.  It is a metaphorical witness to Fleur’s quest to resolve a creative life with the necessity of working for a living.  Those of us who have watched her plight of ungodly times spent on this platform have noticed her compulsion to visually document it.

The platform paintings form the centrepiece of the exhibition.  The expertly rendered hedges and safety lines on highly varnished wooden panels with a colour field background show an innate sense of composition and design.  The sharp spatial perspective used against a flat colour background creates an interesting tension and is a reminder that these are contemporary artworks and not merely illustrations.

This show runs until 5th October……… I highly recommend this slice of life exhibition that evokes the beginnings of a journey which can be open to interpretation from each viewer’s point of view and experience.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

2nd September - 5th October 2014

Art in Newcastle Aug/Sept 2014

Again so many exhibitions and so little time!  Much has been happening in Newcastle and not just weird things with money, envelopes and politicians.

In the art world we’ve seen two galleries reopen with great fanfare. Fresh and innovative are descriptions I would consider apt.  Curve Gallery in its schmick new premises on Hunter St caught attention with the artist Jane Lander’s cool rendition of dudes hanging out at Newcastle Baths.  Over the road The Lockup was awash with arty types for the opening.  A quick peruse on my part established the path this gallery will be taking.  A conceptual philosophy will reign.  The present exhibition “Ash Island and its Transformations” features new works by artists Nicola Hensel, Cherie Johnson, Emma van Leest and Shan Turner-Carroll.  Hensel’s drawings were exquisite, the detail rendered with supreme dexterity.  Van Leest transformed the space into draped ornamentation with paper so finely cut and handled the crispness of the shadows became the artwork.  Due to the crowd I whisked about and was out of there before I could garner the full strength of the exhibition.  I’m convinced though it would be worth my effort to visit again before it finishes on the 28th September.

Qualifications from the Hunter St TAFE campus assure experimentation is a given. Emilie Tseronis and Ellen Howell have studied at this institution and are currently exhibiting at CStudios.  Tseronis in particular delves into the extension of materials to produce a body of work atmospheric and tense. Howell’s large paintings proved popular and for myself I was chuffed to see another version of the iconic shark tower of Redhead.  Of course in the adjacent rooms of this large exhibition space other notable works are on show with photographs by David Williams being a highlight.

There is a certain something lacking at the current exhibition at Four Point Gallery and it’s quite possibly cohesion.  “Of Places” brings together Madalyn Ward, Jennifer Wood, Matthew Chantrey and Dylan Smyth.  These artists would have much to offer as individual exhibitors, however at present the show is more of a ramble with occasional flickers of brilliance.  A manipulated photograph of an old station wagon overlooking the beach is a highlight for me.

The last exhibition to take place at Timeless Textiles Beaumont St Hamilton was a stunner.  “Flowers.8” showed the extreme talent of a group of knitters who created homage to spring.  The beauty of the flower was realized with Katherine Heinrich wielding the needles to form a wonderful array of corsages.  The abstracted quality of Katrina Kellet’s wall hangings had me pondering the process.  A quick google search revealed glimpses into technique which continues to intrigue and stimulate queries. It’s enough at this point to acknowledge her passion and skill.  Also worth noting is that all the artists in this exhibition designed their knitted creations.

“2014 Spring Salon: Annual Studio Artists’ Exhibition” allowed a peak into the valuable commodity that is the Newcastle Community Arts Centre. This is not just a piece of treasured real estate but a hive of imaginative activity that is precious to the Newcastle art community.  So many talented individuals utilise these premises and this exhibition coincided with the studio open day on Sept 6th.  Andrew Finnie’s ICAC revelation was the highlight for me but of course I always love the vibrancy and technique of a Peter Lankas.

Everything was pretty and cute at Back to Back Gallery last month with the exhibition “Transient”.  The tightly woven and intricate paintings by artist Catherine Kavanagh were a delight.  A highly polished painting is not always my cup-o-tea however these works were shiny and nice and deliberately happy. Also the wall mounted installations by Lochlan Howard reminded me of The Strutt Sister’s work but again with that high polish.  These little insights into an imagined world were very appealing. In fact the entire exhibition was a step into a beautiful utopia.

This week I’m looking forward to taking a look at the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize and choosing my winner. Happy arting!

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer howard/

Curve Gallery - Jane Lander

The east end of Newcastle was alive with activity last night; unprecedented considering the commotion and turmoil that abounds in regard to our political arena.  It’s a positive mood obviously attracting the crowds with hip cafes, bars and now an art precinct.

Pared back and minimal structurally the new space Curve Gallery occupies is classy.  The move is a step in the right direction piercing the heart of the hipster hardcore.  Proposing to act as a gallery for the established artist is also promising.  With a hell of a lot of average out there it’s to be sure this channelling will provide strength and direction in art form that may not always be accessible to the average Joe Blow but will be welcome relief for the buff.

The art aficionados of Newcastle know Jane Lander as a strong presence. “The Dais” her body of work now showing at Curve affirms her existence in this realm.  The platform at Newcastle baths, a nucleus for the promotion of youthful exuberance, is examined and scrutinised by the artist to produce a sophisticated insight into adolescent impermanence. Drawing with charcoal becomes a passage into animation.  South African artist William Kentridge is the practiced professional when it comes to telling a yarn with this medium.  However it’s still welcome to see this contemporary art form filtering into the region.

Proving popular were the skilfully executed charcoal drawings however for me the elegance of her oil paintings became a meditative embrace.  Edges seeped inconspicuously into washy backgrounds while silhouettes stood firmly occupying a surreal world.

Lately I have a predilection for comparison and I can’t help linking Lander’s spontaneous oil images to that of Chilean/Australian artist Juan Davila.  His exhibition “The Moral Meaning of Wilderness” adopts a technically similar response to the medium where oil is layered and appears thin and transparent allowing brushed forms to exist.  While Davila presents more detail in his environment the existing similarities permeate.

Lander’s exhibition at Curve Gallery is on exhibit until 27th September.  Curve Gallery is newly located at 61 Hunter st Newcastle.  Also open after a lengthy hiatus is The Lock-Up just over the road. And this month Timeless Textiles will be moving into Hunter st.  An art conglomerate!

It’s a welcome relief to witness this transformation in the east end and it is to be hoped it filters further westward.  The regeneration of Newcastle is in full swing despite the deleterious naysayers out there. 

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

6th September – 27th September 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Spot81 - Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang

Somnium: A dream: the dreaming state: the semiconscious state between sleeping and waking.

This is Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang’s second show with Michelle Perry. The first at Syndicate in Danks St was a successful first up venture into Sydney for this Melbourne artist. This current show is in Michelle’s new space in Chippendale called Spot 81. The larger floor space has allowed Wang to work in her preferred larger scale to great effect.

This body of works are less evocative of the landscape that was evident in the previous show and are more an expression of the nebulous nature of the subconscious. The paint appears to be breathed on rather than brushed. Wang’s colours and tones emerge indistinctly like half obscured memories that float within the dream state. She achieves this through a process that requires multiple layering of colour glazes in between periods of drying resulting in works that can take months to produce.

These entrancing paintings are ethereal, introspective and expressive and very much worth a look. The show continues to September 28.

Guest Reviewer
Glenn Locklee

27th August – 28th September 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sheffer Gallery - Jane Lennon

Jane Lennon describes her solo exhibition, ‘Plate it Up’ as whimsical objects embodying an impassioned plea to reconsider our sustenance. Jane manufactures her art material from discarded office paper, forms it into objects then applies many layers of sealers and washes to the surface. This exhibition contains abstract life forms and plates and occasionally a combination of both.

While painting her works she imagines the surface as representations of deep space or the ocean. Unless we all make radical changes Jane believes our planet is under great threat. Her contribution is to be vegan, make a new material out of paper and transform that into functional objects in the possibly naive hope that she can make a difference.

Usually known for sculpture, Jane has introduced another form of paper recycling to this exhibition – collage. Some of the titles of her works, ‘Earth Keeper-Urgently Recruiting’ and ‘Protective Species’ reflect her core philosophy of treading lightly on the earth.

Art Historians love finding influences in an artist’s oeuvre and while Jane’s imagery is distinctive I see the subtle presence of Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig in many of her works. Leunig’s images are disarming with their whimsical gentleness, but suggest a grittier sadness and truth. This is very much the case of Jane’s work. Sure her sculptures are superficially fun but there is a melancholic side to her objects. Environmental art has a history that goes back to the 1970s. While most environmental artist’s are content working outdoors, Jane’s images are focused within the domestic sphere. 

Silas Clifford-Smith

3rd September – 6th September 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A-M Gallery - Georgina Pollard

The latest exhibition from Georgina Pollard at A-M Gallery ‘Through Line III’ opened Wednesday 27th August 2014.  As the title suggests is the third body of works generated by this evolving process and theme.

These works are a contradiction of creative control and random energies.  The action of dripping paint using the uncontrolled phenomena of gravity at first evokes Pollock.  But this is not the masucline action painting full of reckless bravado of that famed abstract expressionist.  Pollard’s work adds a considered sophistication.  One that demands time intervals in its creation and time limits in its durability.  These are partially ephemeral unfussy products of a process that orchestrates unique colour, concepts of recycled materials that once had a more domestic prupose and the willingness to allow the paint to find its way without the manipulation of the artist’s hand.  Pollard also challenges the accepted notions of wall hung art by relinquishing the structures that support the image.  There is no canvas, stretchers, board or paper.  The works are 100% paint.  The paint does not only provide visual structure as in conventional art but also becomes the physical structure subverting and expanding its role.

Ultimately this is a beautiful show.  The deliberate hang with a busy patchwork wall echoing the configuration of the Newtown Seat exhibition earlier in the year juxtaposing the remaining pieces being given ample and appropiate space of their own to emphasise the strength of their presence.  The colours sing, not in a sweet predictable paletter but in a unique, at times acidic, discordant and harmonious vocabulary.  This original, vibrant show is clever in its invention and physical complexity but not so demanding that it can’t be enjoyed on the level of pure aesthetic beauty.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

27th August – 20th September 2014