Sunday, 19 December 2010

Transitions... but from here to where?

Jacqui Fitzgerald, (L- R) Anahata, Untitled 2 & Untitled 1.

Mary Place Gallery: 7th- 19th December 2010

Transition is the passage from one form, state, style, or place to another so when I arrived at the exhibition Transitions at Mary Place Gallery I was under the impression I would be viewing work which demonstrated some form of a journey, a progression. This was not the case. However, this is not to say the work wasn't exceptional- the majority of it was- I was just slightly confused as to the theme connecting the 12 artists in the show.

The detail in the work of Patricia Ward is amazing. One would expect the dark and slightly eerie images of bees attaching themselves to a human heart to be gruesome, however it is the complete opposite. Ward's work is both beautiful and fascinating. Nicole Toms oil works have all the moodiness of a Dali painting- without the melting clocks- and the charcoal drawings of crows by David Grainger had me reciting Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven in my head.

The work of Helen Young and Justin Cooper demonstrated a large degree of skill. Both Young's prints and Cooper's drawings give evidence to the talent that both these artist's have, however, the subject matter was a little on the banal side. While beautifully executed, Young's sea-themed prints are mundane while Cooper's overtly sexualised illustrations have an overwhelming feeling of 'it's been done'.

The work of Jacqui Fitzgerald stood out as exceptional. Fitzgerald, a relative newcomer to the Sydney art scene, depicts highly emotive and intrinsically personal scenes that are as haunting as they are beautiful. There is a sadness about the work and a sense of something hidden. Identity is obscured, the body is sheltered in a self concious and almost child- like gesture of withdrawal, of turning into oneself. Anahata is desparate, clingy- like a person grasping for breath. Evidently self portraits (one look at the artist herself is enough to prove this), one can't help but wonder if the work mirrors the inner struggles of the artist. Fitzgerald's work is like a memory supressed, a thought ignored, a feeling you just can't shake.

Perhaps the 'transition' then is not so much conceptual as actual. Perhaps it has less to do with artist's vision and more to do with the viewer.

Fareed Haddad

Nicole Toms

David Grainger

David Grainger

Helen Young

Patricia Ward

Patricia Ward

Benjamin Croser

Benjamin Croser

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Sunday, 12 December 2010

National Art School Undergraduate Exhibition

Sophie Cape, A dog's hind leg

National Art School: November 18th- December 11th 2010

After being impressed by the National Art School (NAS) Postgraduate Exhibition the other week, I had high expectations for the undergraduate show. One thing which I never seem to learn, despite writing about and reviewing exhibitions for several years now, is that high expectations are never a good thing. Better to have no expectations. While there were several works which did deliver, there was an overwhelming sense of "Is this it?" Granted, by comparison to the postgraduate show, these are artists who are perhaps at the beginnings of their careers and therefore have the capacity to grow and dare I say, improve. It's not even that the work was bad, just simply underwhelming.
The work of Sandy Bliim, Angus Fisher, Saif Almurayati, Larinda Knight, Akira Alvarez- Sharkey and, in particular, Mai Thi Tran were exceptional. One aspect that is consistant between both the postgrad and undergrad shows is the high standard of the work produced by print makers. The detail and skill is remarkable and sets it apart from other areas. This is possibly what saved the exhibition for me and gave me hope for better things in the future.
Saif Almurayati, Borderline
Saif Almurayati, Buster Bunker

Saif Almurayati, Buster Bunker
Larinda Knight

Angus Fisher, Four Feathers

Mai Thi Tran, Solitude II

Mai Thi Tran, Solitude I
Mai Thi Tran, Solitude III

Akira Alvarez- Sharkey, John Henry's Hammer

Akira Alvarez- Sharkey, NO DENTIST BLUES
Sandy Bliim, Reliquie (detail)

Sandy Bliim, Reliquie
Sandy Bliim, Child's Play

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Modern Equivalence...

Peter Burgess
Modern Equivalence
Peloton Gallery: 18th November- 11th December 2010

Being in no way familiar with the work of Peter Burgess, I entered his solo show at Peloton Gallery with no preconceived ideas. Modern Equivalence presents monochromatic replicas of a match box, a parcel and a bag of rubbish accompanied by 2D images. These works are facinating and beautifully intricate but it is more than simply their aesthetic appearence which intrigued me. Each work has its own history intrinsically entwined with every detail. The match box references the Sydney fires of 1910- 20 which were attributed to the Wobblies, the parcel represents the parcel bomb left at a London tube station in 1973 and the bag of rubbish is indicative of the bin which exploded outside the Sydney Hilton Hotel in 1978.

Installation view
The most interesting aspect which connects each of these events, as Burgess explained to me, is that those who were labelled responsible by the media were in fact never convicted of committing the crimes. However, trial by media is as good as law- a fact which has not changed over the years. It also demonstrates how such mundane objects, in a world consumed by terror, become threatening.

Peter Burgess, Latent Object #6 (white version) – Wrapped package, 0.45 scale, tube station bombings, London 1973, attributed to the IRA, 2008-09.
The artist's photographic prints apparently mimic the cloudscapes of photographers Minor White and Alfred Stieglitz, however, they are not clouds but images of explosions. Once again Burgess is demonstrating how something that appears innocent can carry sinister connotations. Modern Equivalence is one of the most relevant and frankly interesting exhibitions I have seen in a very long time. While the work is embedded in history it equally carries significance in today's society while subtly making comment on the role which the media plays in inciting terror. While technically brilliant, the work ensures I will never look at a match box in the same way again.
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