covering lots of ground

  • Categories: Blog
  • Date: 7th February 2012
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How to see as many artworks by different artists as possible in a short space of time? Visit a few group exhibitions. I’ve done just that in the past few days & covered a lot of ground. But so little time left … These shows heralded in the year for these galleries & are due to close soon.

First up – drawing, which I have always loved as invariably it reveals the immediate mark of the artist’s hand; the intimacy of touch. Admittedly the exhibition The Drawing Room at Breenspace takes this notion & shakes it around, but essentially it comprises drawings which are pared back and sophisticated.
Although it’s not solely ink or pencil on paper that features the exhibition includes digital, electronic, collage and wool ‘drawings’. Agatha Gothe-Snape, a young artist who seems to be everywhere at the moment (solo show in Melb as I write), has a sunny yellow line which is constantly drawn & redrawn on 2 small digital screens, both nicely contained within a modest wooden frame. Hang it on the wall, plug it in & enjoy. 

Hossein Valamanesh Swiss landscape, Tues 27 Nov 2001, 2002
watercolour on newspaper on rice paper, no 9 from set of 12
Hossein Valamanesh‘s tiny watercolours – image here – in the middle of the stock market part of the newspaper really test my multi-focals! These works form part of a suite made a decade ago & are as fresh & pertinent today as then. They originate from a residency he began in Switzerland just weeks following 9/11. The daily papers were full of the unfolding GFC. After a while, he felt the graphs marking the ups & downs of the stock market in the finance section had an obvious and direct correlation to the shape of the surrounding landscape. So he sought to play with it. I think a far better (& possibly more enduring) interpretation of financial analysis than the one usually presented! Alan Kohler could take note.
If you know Hossein’s work generally, you’ll appreciate that these tiny gems hint at his extraordinary aesthetic & technical ability, not to mention his lovely way of seeing the world.
And Simryn Gill features with 2 large collages. Her work is always beautiful and intriguing  – meaning hovers around the edges which quietly and gradually emerges. She is to represent Australia at the next Venice Biennale (2013). Book your trip now!
Breenspace is worth a visit – they represent some seriously good artists who are doing really interesting work. Have a bite to eat downstairs at Berta while you’re in the neighbourhood.

Next I went to Damien Minton Gallery in Redfern.
A completely different place & space, with many represented artists from regional NSW. This current exhibition is founded on Slessor’s poem Five Bells &, as such, much of the work has become a homage to Sydney. Damien was reminded of the poem by Delia Falconer in her new book Sydney & wondered how a group of artists would respond now to this poem first written btw 1935/38. The poem speaks of Slessor’s grief at the drowning of a friend in Sydney Harbour. Not many of the younger generation knew the poem, but it is one which resonates deeply for many older artists. The best well known artwork inspired by the poem is John Olsen’s Salute to Five Bells commissioned for the Sydney Opera House (& another work, Five Bells 1963 in AGNSW). Here is the poem online to stir your emotions
Minton has assembled a particularly diverse group of artists. Some stand outs for me are invited artists Tim Johnson‘s poetic piece inspired by David Moore’s aerial photograph of Sydney Harbour , Euan McLeod leading figurative painter, whose work feels the emotional and physical weight the water, & Peter Kingston who would have been in his element, Sydney harbour being his preferred subject. Another (represented by Damien) is Eric Niebuhr – dark and glistening with splashes of lights; gorgeous handling of paint. 
Not quite satiated nor fatigued, I went on to visit James Dorahy Project Space in Potts Point –  cnr of Macleay & Orwell, upstairs above a great shoe shop (sale on at the moment). He opens 2012 with a thematic show of all his artists, loosely based on mountains & valleys. Installations which were possibly inspired by the landscape and hint at peaks and troughs but not your usual landscape pictures, are on show. 
Check out Ali Noble (here on the left) Cmon get happy 2011 whose joyous wall piece of brightly coloured felt sings loud & clear, as if the hills truly are alive.

Ali Noble C’mon get happy 2011
handcut felt, inetrfacing & glue 198 x 77 cm

Hurry – these shows are due to close soon. For opening hours & exhibition dates visit the galleries’ websites.
Repro of the images courtesy of the artist and gallerists. 

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