Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Maitland Regional Art Gallery - Linda Greedy

It’s not often I see an exhibition and feel a genuine sense of excitement.  Yes we’re told the art work we should appreciate, the art work that stimulates and transcends.  But so often this work speaks only to a chosen few.  And although I try it doesn’t always speak to me.  On Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a drive to Maitland Gallery.  Of course the Archibald Prize was finishing up and the gallery was awash with people but in a small alcove away from the hustle was a suite of paintings more tempting than even the most brilliant painting in the popular competition.  “Spin” is the title of the exhibition that allows the viewer to wander about sideshow alley without the noise and dust but with all the enthusiasm and anticipation of the spectacle.

The artist plies oil paint in juicy sweeping strokes allowing colour to peek through underlying layers. This is notable in negative space where the use of paint in this manner can so quickly turn murky and unworkable.  Because of the dexterity with the brush however these spaces become as important as the subject matter.  Also of brilliance is juxtaposition, the point in the painting where positive space meets negative or put simply where objects meet air.  That space is deliberate and vivid with contrast affecting a sublime quality.  It’s a moment precious in painting and often not considered.  Where fine line is allowed definition and clarity by the cutting in of contrasting oil is exquisitely effective in these art works.

Regardless of the subject matter the quality of the painting is paramount in this exhibition.  However Linda Greedy resolves form with technical skill and allows the movement of a sideshow to be frozen in that single moment of time before being rapidly relegated to the past.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

7th February – 12th April 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Airspace Projects - Openings

‘Openings’ is a BIG BIG glorious group show on at Airspace Projects filling every nook and cranny in this just recently renovated new space, the small intimate entry revealing an oddly cavenous but very interesting exhibiting area.  Artist’s include: Annie Aitken, Kendal Heyes, Susan Andrews, Rafaela Pandolfini, Ciaran Begley, Jan Fieldsend, Pollyxenia Joannou, Tony McDonald, Fleur MacDonald, Anthony Cahill, Lynda Draper, Michele Elliot, Fiona Meller, Natasha Halicki, Natalie Gock, Li Wenmin, Alex Falkiner, Kim Elliot, Francesca Mataraga, Mike Barnard, Jacqui Mills, Janine Bailey, Kristel Smits, Cindy Yuen-Zhe Chen, Sue Pedley, Robert Bennetts, James Nguyen, Sam Valenz, Sue Callanan, Kylie Banyard, Leo Coyte, Yvette Hamilton, Emma Price, Anie Nheu, Erin Keys, Glenn Locklee, Helen M Sturgess, Mo Giddy, Jane Polkinghorne, Catherine Rogers, Marlene Sarroff, Sarah Newall, Veronica Habib, Nuha Saad, Hyun-Hee Lee, Rox De Luca, Margaret Roberts and Deborah Kelly.

There is an awful lot of fabulous work in this show so am just going to pick my favourites, but truly love the entire show.. seriously!!

In Gallery 2, Annie Aitken uses zips to hush our mouths, ‘Looking for Closure’ mixed media, 14 cotton and plastic zips.  I gaped in awe! ‘Untitled (PN3)’ acrylic, oil and pigment on velvet by Kendal Hayes dared me to reach out and touch it, I withheld and gazed from a distance!  I first encountered Susan Andrew’s work through MAP, this is a nice re-introduction, ‘Wedge’ acrylic on timber sits high up on the wall softly yelling that it’s there.

‘Private View’ light, found objects, ceramic, RGB projector part, variable dimensions by Ciaran Begley is fabulous, love the intimatacy about it and how you have to crane your neck to look.  My eyes wandered to ‘Night Sky I, II & III’ screen print, drawing, collage, textile and flocking by Jan Fieldsend, it must have been the plaid as somehow I felt a connection.

What is it about Felt!  I’m partial to it’s softness, it’s virsitility and how it folds.  With ‘Émigré #1 & #2’ felt, wood & cotton by Pollyxenia Joannou these two unopposing works speak volumes.  ‘Tilt’ acrylic on board by Tony McDonald reflects the shape of the room and perfectly placed above the steps.

‘Victory’ gouache on ply by yours truly is something all us Artist’s want next to their work and a little adulation.

‘Inspections Invited’ oil on birch panel by Anthony Cahill is a blessing in disguise as this is the very first time I can lay my eyes on his work in the flesh after a daily dose via Facebook.  I’ve watched his work closely over a couple of years and they follow a surreal landscape with an Artist’s eye view of everyday objects that pass his fancy.  A piece of discarded plastic pushed into a rock crevace intensified by colours suited for a post nuclear landscape… Love it!!

‘Wishbone Jewellery’ silver, various dimensions by Fiona Meller are a little strange but curiously really lovely.  As also Alex Falkiner’s ‘Floating Fragment Drawing’ mixed media and pins, variable dimensions are to me a playful version of the Milky Way.  In the Cranny and Deep Space, unfortunately I missed the performance but love ‘In the Space of a breath: device for circulating air’ air conditioning duct by Sue Callanan as I think it says a lot for clean air.

Up on the wall I caught my reflection in a small work which I initially thought was a mirror but watched it as it slowly changed, kinda spooky and kinda cool at the same time, ‘Look Here’ single channel video, screen, frame, mirror film by Yvette Hamilton.

Down on the back wall there is a small urban landscape, ‘Ascent’ oil and blue tape on ply by Glenn Locklee, I love the shadow forcing itself to oblige the steps and railings and the blue tape deliberatly made to look like the railing, it could be the beginning or the end of a great day’s adventure.

‘Big Head’ Video sculpture by Jane Polkinghorne is hilarious!

Always love the eye of Catherine Rogers, ‘Light Leaking’ and ‘Opportunity’ Photographs on paper are two works that are yet again sublime.  ‘Bridging the Gap’ acrylic and foam board by Marlene Sarroff seem to throw a spanner in the works making us wake up and take note.

It’s human nature to pick flowers, I try and do it regularly as fresh cut flowers from your garden or someone else’s brings life to your life, the simple action of picking flowers and making a little bouquet creates a profound effect on the person who receives them.  ‘Flowers picked on the way to Opening’ cotton yarn, acrylic paint, pine & plywood, variable dimensions by Sarah Newall make my heart sing, they are exquisite in their every tiny detail.. I gush whenever I see Sarah's work!

Always love the playful attention to structural direction in Nuha Saad’s work including this one ‘Column II’ acrylic on wood, not just building blocks but building blocks to stardom!  ‘Saved White’ mixed media by Rox De Luca is up close a very gorgeous piece, I wanted to touch it but it looked too fragile.  ‘Untitled’ mixed media by Margaret Roberts is an interactive piece but looked to lovely to touch, so I watched it hang and watched people’s reactions to it, worked for me!

Sally Clarke and Brenda Factor with the help of a legion of volunteers have transformed this wonderful space from humble beginnings in the heart of Marrickville into a place where Art lives.

Fleur MacDonald

6th February - 21st February 2015

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Airspace Projects - Iconoclasts

When a painter embarks on a life of creative endeavour she/he finds it is a largely solitary journey. They develop their unique visual language and symbolic intent independent of other practices.  Of course there are crossovers and appropriations but a well developed artist holds a presence that is unique and recognisable in their output.

The four artists involved in the latest show at Airspace Projects are Heidi Yardley, Yvette Coppersmith, Paul Williams and Chelsea Lehmann.  Brought together by Lehmann they have contributed and collaborated on works under the directive of the shows title “Iconoclasts”.

Simply put an iconoclast is a breaker of images, defacing, erasing and disrupting their context or reading.  It has roots in the act of denouncing the visual propaganda of a Christian nature.

Each artist creates a conflict, at times aggressively attacking an image although it is unclear whether the intent is to be destructive or cathartically expressive.  Particularly Yardley and Lehman, both exquisite figurative painters have violated the pristine images they have created by erasing, rubbing back and slashing at the surface and the figure.  In both cases the eschewing of preciousness brings an edgy energy to the work. Coppersmith’s textural compositional fracturing of form and Paul William’s instinctive organic abstract rendering subverting accepted notions of painting round out this interesting show.

Adding an unpredictable dimension to this show is a few pieces that were passed on from artist to artist, each contributing to the works in response to the previous artists efforts…. an exquisite corpse of sorts. 

While Williams pondered keeping to the style already established he chose otherwise by imposing his individual marks to drag the pieces into a more interesting cohesion.  Yardley finds herself exploring abstract geometry because the painting demanded it even though it is foreign to her own practice.  There are references to Odilon Redon, paintings done over anonymous student work and transformations that bear tenuous relationships to the original painting.

Overall the show presents complex interactions that create an awareness of more than one direction a painting can take by disrupting or altering its preconceived path.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

6th February - 21st February 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Michael Reid Gallery - Tim Moore & Kirsten Fredericks

The opening show for 2015 at Michael Reid Gallery Sydney carries the new years festive spirit and tosses it playfully towards mardi gras month with a whimsically phallic exhibition by Tim Moore and Kirsten Fredericks.

Both use craft techniques to put privates on display.  Both take a delectable poke at traditions.

For this exhibition Tim has pointed his needle in doilies and blankets bearing Disney icons, giving the playfulness of the characters new depths.

Meanwhile downstairs Kirsten has crocheted a new crop of kitsch and cuddly members preserved in bell jars and sprouting from vintage fantasy vessels.

Very touchable.

Check them out.


Some people don't get it, lots of people love it :)

Pamela Lee Brenner
Guest Reviewer

4th February - 28th February 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lovett Gallery - Nikon Walkley Press Photography Exhibition

It’s that time of the year when the Nikon-Walkley award comes to town.  We all know we’re going to see quality photography at this exhibition.  And we all know we’re going to be feeling pretty darn lucky that we live in this country when we exit the exhibition.  But look to the left on entering the gallery and you’ll witness one of our better known characters declaring our great land the home of the thug.  Yes that’s right, documentary evidence of a great buffoon in baggy breaches belting the buggery out of another joker.  You’re visualising the already well documented brawl of James Packer vs … well actually who is that fella.  But it is hilarious and it is fortunate we live in a country where the media can scrutinise those in the public eye without repercussions.  It’s also a gentle reminder that money cannot buy style!

Now that being out of the way, let’s pursue the serious end of town.  The plight of Syrian refugees is recognized as a humanitarian crisis. Steve Pennells’ image of a tent city has a perfunctory capacity initially but the realisation that these little dots in the inhospitable desert are in fact the homes of millions of displaced people requires contemplation.  Portraits of the Syrian refugees by the same photographer are so empathetic and real.  It’s an astounding journal of humanities shame.

Adam Hourigan’s photo essay of regional Australia is a fleshed out study of character and place.  The laconic Aussie sitting casually in his caravan advertising mulch while a fire blazes behind him epitomises the personality Australians respect.  It’s a single shot but boy does it work!

The winning photograph is an image quiet and sad.  By the photographer Andrew Quilty, the appearance of a small child in Afghanistan wrapped in a sheath of metallic material with a drip wending its way into the little body conjures up imaginings of war atrocities however an oil heater was responsible for her burns.

This exhibition leaves one again pondering the disparity that exists in this world.  While it’s relatively easy for westerners to embark on a mission to document the plight of those less fortunate but perhaps more interesting, it is an almost impossible task for these people to escape from their trouble and enter a country that is peaceful.  There’s something unethical about it.  After all we look at these photos and feel empathy but carry on in passive oblivion.

The Nikon-Walkley can be viewed at Lovett Gallery until 7th March.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

30th January - 7th March 2015