Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Folonomo Gallery - Fleur MacDonald

Fleur MacDonald's "ECHO' at Folonomo reverberates through Bourke St. Surry Hills.

30 years of working on wood and paper, this 6-8 lass can certainly choose her palette.  The bowls acting as frames for pencils are little pools of pigment, wishing wells for the idea of drawing.

Solidified, practiced and still ready for the job, the pencils ( of the working class kind ) have settled in a blaze of colour, awaiting the twilight zone of retirement....or have they?  One can only speculate and be drawn into the heat of 'hot lips ' or 'yellow fever' and so on…

Then the bread boards, psychedelically optical demonstrations of the ART of home decoration, a complete set of inverse home entertainment, the sandwich of home truth and abstraction, the ever so subtle reference to the Bauhaus, always welcome in my books.

We swing across to the 50 colour plaques, interesting!  Can't work them out, start counting... 12 Green, 8 Carmine, 12 Yellow, 3 Orange, 5 Purple, 5 Black ( ish ), 2 Ochre, no Blue….

Enfin, the red dots, the penguin, all very finely tuned surreal intimations of the parellel existence.

To Fleur MacDonald, a very fine selection of 30 years of 'Living the Art', Congratulations and WELL DONE!

Jelle van den Berg
Guest Reviewer

6th October - 15th November 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Metro Arts - Denise Reichenbach

'Challengers of the Unknown'

Born in 1980 in Wolfsbehringen, a small rural village in then still communist East Germany, artist Denise Reichenbach arrived in Australia in 2008.  After travelling the country for two years Reichenbach chose to settle.  The following five years she spent in Gladstone, Queensland, a formal requirement necessary to obtain her visa.  This period proved an exile of sorts and laid the ground for gestating new developments in her work.

Reichenbach speaks of her feelings then, of entrapment with regards to her painting.  Eventually crystallization occurred when her drive to create grew and her resolve strengthened.  In this exhibition we observe an emerging artist overthrowing the restrictions of the tradition of painting.  Reichenbach's contrasting histories inform her work.  The way in which she negotiates time and space is reminiscent of contemporary German painter Rauch.  Also Gaugin, particularly when he spent time in Martinique his paintings changed, as the light in Australia has changed everything for this artist.  Collage, comic books, drawing and mixed media convey graphic qualities in her new work; raw primitivism and the drive for looseness deliver semi figuration via abstract means.  The formal practice of painting comes with many rules in terms of doing things in specific ways.  There is immediacy which alternative materials and methods afford the artist to assist in breaking up the picture plane.  Reichenbach has consciously embarked on her journey utilizing techniques associated with working on paper as devises to renegotiate her original discipline of painting.  She takes an organic approach allowing the work to begin to make itself; the work and the process have become one.  Juxtaposing comic book references with remnants of the classical figure she refers to the 'layers of layers' and what can happen when the unknown is challenged.

'Challengers of the Unknown' is Reichenbach's considered attempt to extract her work from the German painting tradition.  She acknowledges this profound influence, 'If I look at what the Germans did there was always a presence of a higher force, without sounding cheesy.  It's like they tapped into that, they talked about 'the nature' of something'.  Reichenbach engages stream of consciousness as a means to undertake her work, she is not interested in what's fashionable right now in art circles, she is more interested in her own possible perceptions.  It is this process which has led her to rediscover her own connection to nature; her own spirituality in a contemporary context.

After a residency at Bigci situated just outside of Sydney in the Blue Mountains in March this year Reichenbach became immersed in nature.  In the Australian bush she made the connection between formal constructs and a personal journey.  One of the defining aspects of the female artist is the struggle with the public and private.  Reichenbach is looking at human relationships, sexuality, and ambivalence by focusing on the figure, the power of the body and how we relate to one another.  Energy sensations and auric vision have come into play where she uses the figure as a narrative devise to convey otherworldly experiences.  Here, within all the figurative work, there is a relationship to the higher being or guide and the notion that every character in the dream is a facet of the self.

The strangeness of new places can often generate an overwhelming sense of self, as Reichenbach in her own words stipulates ‘When the father leaves the room, the child steps up’.

Meaghan Shelton
Guest Reviewer

19th November - 21st November 2015

Gympie Regional Gallery - Artists of the Atelier

If identity is found through desire then the work of artist Charmaine Lyons, a self taught fine art photographer, explores this journey to the letter.  ‘Artists of the Atelier’ is Lyons first solo show, marking a pinnacle in her professional career.  This exhibition presents her most recent body of work undertaken over the period of the past twelve months.  Her work for Artists of the Atelier is testament to the integrity of her project.  Lyons views the world through the lens of the female photographer. Meticulous in her attention to detail she seeks to understand and embrace her own identity as an artist through the observation and immersion in the processes of her peers.

Lyons has specifically chosen the word ‘atelier’ over ‘studio’ for its allusion to a sense of mystery and the intrigue we hold for the artists’ work space; the inner sanctum.  The experience of viewing an artists work, particularly those we are moved by often inspires awe and fascination… the wish to know more. This artist’s intrigue for other artists has led to her invitation to enter the private space of the studio of each of her muses to document their inner worlds.  The collage components of the work portray the individual artist’s unique approach to their practice.  It is the uniqueness and difference of each artist and their atelier which is the focus of Lyons' work.

As a photographer Lyons struggles with day-to-day portraiture and emphasises there must be an underlying, gutsy reason to take a photograph.  She looks for a message behind everything she does, to take the work beyond the personal to the universal.  Her focus on the process allows for the evolution in the work to show itself, rather than fixating on the outcome.  It is most apparent this project has been undertaken with the utmost care and respect for her fellow artists.  The honour for her subject, which this artist holds, is evident in the open countenance of each of her subjects.  Be assured the artists involved would never have opened their doors as widely if this had not been the case.  There is a special unspoken language between artists; much is communicated between them with just a glance. We as viewers are invited to enter this private domain.

At the outset of the project twenty-two artists were approached and photographed, Lyons’ criteria being artists who are based in the region.  This artist’s intensely undertaken dedication to producing a body of work of the level of excellence presented here, has been developed via a long period of engagement. Lyons' expertise allows her to transform gruelling technical skills for editing and selecting purposes. Her use of light and attention to the formal constructs of her images at times lends an almost painterly element to the work.

Her process has resulted in the paring down of material and the honing of her concept.  The language of which has been revealed to her only through her absolute surrender to her investigation.  As we come face to face with the artists presented in ‘Artists of the Atelier’, intrigue leads us to wonder at the intimacy and immediacy portrayed here.  Perhaps it is the artist herself made visible through her own desire for identity?

Meaghan Shelton
Guest Reviewer

17th November 2015 - 2nd January 2016

Monday, November 9, 2015

Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery - The Eutick Memorial Still Life Award 2015

The 9th Annual Eutick Memorial Still Life Award 2015 brings still life, to life.

Varied responses to the genre create a unique semblance to the melody of still life.  Sometimes symphonic, sometimes pop, a little bit of jazz and perhaps a nursery rhyme or two.  Collectively they share harmonious chords, and their resonance hums in the quiet contemplation of frozen moments embedded in canvas.

There are flowers, there are dolls, there are objects of love and desire, mystery and death.  Like racehorses in the Melbourne Cup the painting titles convey a stratum of cognition - 'Happy Whale Interior' ; Pantone Belief System'; 'The history of how contemporary art saved the world part 1, still life with flowers, iPhone and a hare'; 'The Fragility of Dreams'; 'Still life cloud arrangement'(sixtoeight guest reviewer Bernadette Trela); 'Maelstrom'; 'Heartland; 'The Conversation’ - and the winning title - 'Instant Crush'.

Yes the Winner of the 2015 EMSLA is Jonathan Crowther, with 'Instant Crush'.  It is an oil painting with a dimension of 183 x 137 cm, and is of a crushed instant takeaway container. "What was made for a purpose became discarded, no longer useful.  It was found, given a new purpose and the cycle of life continues", the artist statement cites.

Art Critic John McDonald and Director of the Grafton Regional Gallery Jude McBean were the esteemed judges.  In announcing the winner John told the anticipatory crowd that the decision was not easy, but the painting kept drawing them back, and the decision was made.

Like the drapes and folds of table linens from times before, the crumpled remnant of our disposable and restless life has become a symbol for stillness, serenity, beauty and contemplation. And so it is.

A painting of excellent technicality and dimensional reality, it's composition is tonally calming and harmonious.  As a chord it is a C minor, carrying past joy with a helping of melancholia.  As the name of a racehorse, Instant Crush, it is a favourite. 

As the 2015 Winner of the EMSLA it is resplendent. Congratulations Jonathan Crowther!

The prize for Best Regional Artist was given to Polly Wells, 'Indigo and Lemons'.

A Highly Commended was given to Peter O'Doherty for 'In the Sink'.

The EMSLA is a festival of not only still life, but also of fine musical and vocal performances held in the Gallery during the weekend.

A very worthy exhibition, visitation highly recommended.

Until next time, Happy Art Loving

Tammy Mills-Thom
Guest Reviewer