Friday, October 31, 2014

The University Gallery Newcastle - George Gittoes

Regardless of the bombardment of warfare imagery present in our lives it’s apparent that distance leads to dissociation and therefore ambivalence in the greater populace. Until threat, whether inflated by propaganda or not, confronts us we are gratefully naive. The Australian artist George Gittoes threatens that torpor we celebrate. Recently at The University Gallery Newcastle, a survey exhibition of Gittoes work allowed the audience to experience the challenging reality of war.

Etchings dating back to 1971 reveal characteristics typical of teen angst and generational drama. A world exists within these images of turmoil and disillusion in which insects and humans collide. There is an analogy here that is interminable; dominate or die. To exterminate the irritant therefore becomes meaningless. A Kafkaesque style dominates exposing the tendency of the artist to identify with the underside of establishment. Nightmarish scenes, akin to the etchings of Spanish artist Francisco De Goya, are exquisitely detailed and establish early this artist’s skill.

Atrocities abundant and repugnant are rendered in appealing swathes of thick oil paint. The beauty of vibrant colour deftly handled mocks with delight as the conflict between admiration and repulsion collides. In our hyper-civilised world where social dilemma amounts to “how to cut down a bit of stomach fat” or is same-sex marriage uncivilised, carnage as depicted in the painting “Kibeho” is confronting. The Rwandan genocide reminds us that humanity is unhinged when mutilation and death are the requisite actions for differing belief systems. This image so graphic and disturbing, so beautiful and terrifying repeats undeterred.

In a parallel universe Gittoes could be the graffiti artist bringing alleys and lanes of the dreary end of the city to life. His enunciated depictions of humanity, affinity with gesture and realism and masterful use of hyperactive colour would assure him standing within this community. But for this artist acknowledging the absurdity of war and thus communicating that absurdity to an audience presently and pleasantly isolated from such carnage is his endeavour. The intriguing phenomenon of the exhibition is that while offering insight into the brutality of the human it conjunctly celebrates humanity. The essence driving this life of acute meaning to deliver what most are happy to never experience is recognition that we are human. Not white, black, Muslim or Christian but human.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

1st October - 25th October 2014

Mick - Clara Adolphs

Clara Adolphs is a young figurative expressionist painter having her second show with Mick. She works with a broad thick impasto technique favoured by a number of Sydney’s more successful artists. Clara is no exception selling out her first and current shows by opening day.

What distinguishes her from her gregarious counterparts is to employ this usually larger than life technique in a way that is spare, sensitive and reflective. Her palette is muted combination of pinks, blues and tertiary greys allowing her manipulation of tone to make them sing.

Her work evokes a fascination for the universal human condition. It is more about the inherent aspects of humanity that endures regardless of time and place. She portrays the casual relationships and camaraderie that seem to be under threat in today’s fast paced anxiety driven existences.

This show titled The Man in Me is her intimate observation of men and the social/emotional machinations of the gender. There is not an academic psychological analysis but rather an organic human response to existing as a young woman making sense of the male psyche.

As with the first show her source materials are old photos often attained from various markets or family connections. The anonymity and age of the images give the works a sense of nostalgia as does her deliberately restrictive palette.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

10th October - 26th October 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Front Room Gallery - Headway

Artists: Mel Baldwin, Meg Corcoran, Alex Genetzakis, Lynda Gibbons, Erin Reid, Jonathan Gilbert, Johanna Lynch, Kimberly Minto and Emilie Tseronis.

Art of course is the principle reason for taking a stroll about the west end of Hunter Street. Us arty types know that but the addition of a good dose of sunshine quickens the step so with time on my side I ventured that little bit further and traipsed to the art school to see the latest offering from those dedicated students. And I’m sure glad I did.

What I love about art schools is the willingness to take art that step further out of the comfort zone and away from the notion of the safe and saleable.

In the foyer a collection of strange sculptures by Melissa Baldwin echoed the primitive. A sense of Stone Age tool meets Dada crept in here. Around the corner her oil painting “Dapple” had more conservative dynamics. Emilie Tseronis continues her exploration of the mark with jaunty brush strokes delivering expressive results. The print makers were also in fine form with Jonathan Gilbert holding the fort. A keen sense of the ludicrous was achieved with his drypoint etchings. It appears that whips, chains, piercings and pursed lips were strutting their stuff. On a softer note the images of Kimberly Minto titled Velvet Lace were delicate, subtle and a nice diversion. In the upstairs gallery I enjoyed the screen prints by Erin Reid titled “Acid Cats”. The simple line defined the elusive quality of that barbed beast. Also noteworthy is the naivety of Alex Genetzakis’s art. The woodcut prints contained simplicity of detail pertinent to the subject being explored. Her acrylic on canvas painting titled “Fernleigh” revealed an uncomplicated composition and technique that smacked with atmosphere and tension. 

They’re a group of emerging artists evolving and exploring, willing to travel the uncertain path that is art. The students are to be commended on an exhibition well done.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

14th October - 24th October 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spiro Grace Art Rooms - Sue Beyer

Brisbane artist, Sue Beyer’s current solo show at Spiro Grace Art Rooms (SGAR) draws from the artist’s intriguing mix of interests – painting, roller-skating and motor biking.  Sue uses the familiar vocabulary of cartography as a platform for her artworks and layers them with dynamic blocks of colour and abstract forms.  The paintings reflect on how we navigate our urban spaces providing a refreshing take on place and our personal connections to it.

‘Betwixt and Between’ is designed to surround the gallery space and immerse the viewer so that they feel part of the continuous meanderings of the Brisbane River.  Viewing this show online will not do it justice for this very reason.  The relevance of the physical gallery space appears particularly pertinent for this exhibition.

Personally, this show invited me to consider Brisbane from a new perspective.  I had the sense that the artist has created some sort of ‘other world’ between lived and imagined observation – perhaps a new language and way of seeing place – compelling.

The exhibition continues until October 25 at SGAR, 255 Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill, Brisbane (entrance via Union Street).

Amy Clarke
Guest Reviewer

9th October-25th October 2014

Art Systems Wickham - Mandy Robinson & Ed Rush

Snappy colours and a fondness for the surreal give a hint at the art on offer currently at Art Systems Wickham. But however bright and jovial this work appears there is certainly depth involved. Mandy Robinson and Edwin Rush create a dialogue that coupled with insightful titles reveals the curious soul of each artist.

Industrious application to the practice of art is evident as Robinson pursues various techniques to delve ever deeper into the imagination. Shapes repeat and echo, fine line develops into wonderful labyrinths and collage introduces bold colour. The ‘lumpen objects’ located centrally in the art space are sculptural forms made from fabric and found objects. The source and life of these organic forms sprout from core pieces such as old jugs and mixers. It’s a bizarre yet effective concept. The pen on paper drawings mirroring the ‘lumpens’ were a favourite. 

The paintings by Rush require contemplation. Although not as prolific as Robinson his work is obvious in it’s profoundness. Letting a laid back approach to paint application become dominant in his work could be his mantra as his earlier work is unknown to me. This relaxed approach is quite meditative to view. Patterns emerge behind layers of opaque paint and meaning and essence can be garnered from the random titles of each work. In fact both artists seem to have a penchant for the obscure moniker. 

This exhibition is a pleasure, perhaps a tad too busy, but a real exploration of both artists’ work. There seems to be a ‘need to purge’ approach to the pricing of the art and it’s questionable. However for the sake of each artist I hope it works.

All hail the red dot!

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

3rd October – 19th October 2014