Stepping out in springtime

  • Categories: Blog
  • Date: 18th September 2012
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I have to admit it has been a while. Not quite a hibernation, more like many distractions which have kept me away from my favourite blog spot. I’ve missed it.
Gentle reader, there’s been alot on – artwise – in Sydney since we last met. I trust you have been out & about, enjoying The Biennale of Sydney and associated events, the opening of two new galleries in Chippendale, The Commercial and MCLEMOI, Shaun Gladwell‘s new work in AGNSW, lvl 2 Projects and experienced Contemporary Iranian Art at New Albion Gallery.

And there is more still to come. Spring is in the air, the season of unreliability, new beginnings and hay fever. You only need a decent map, a cardie, a couple claratyne to be set for an art afternoon. 

Georgina Pollard Hearth (shape),
produced through a residency at Kandos Projects in March 2012.
180x113cm, household acrylic paint and velcro
image courtesy the artist

The Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize is in full flight, across 3 venues in the inner west. The prize is open to all artists who live and/ or work in the Marrickville Arts Precinct ie inner west. This year’s winner is George Shaw who, along with other finalists, is on at the Chrissie Cotter Gallery (offered as a free exhibition space to artists and organisations for exhibitions etc) and 2011 winners are on in Newtown, in the gallery with the fairly cumbersome name of At The Vanishing Point. Georgina Pollard‘s works are literally poured paint. They look like woven plastic and it is precisely this plasticity of the material itself on which Pollard relies. The paint is not held on a surface, but is free form – floating against the wall as a fragile woven sculptural object. Each stripe of paint is poured at regular intervals throughout her day, drying before the next pour is done. In a way she sees these works as diaries of her daily routine. … she believes the paint itself can decide when it’s a finished painting, by the virtue of the fact that it becomes just that when there is enough pigment and binder applied for it to hang from itself unsupported. Connie Anthes The walls have eyes  

Marita Fraser untitled (skirt painting), 2008
acrylic on canvas 150x100cm
image courtesy the artist and
James Dorahy Project Space

Marita Fraser is really adept at this technique at James Dorahy Project Space, in which the paint medium becomes the sculptural element. The paint takes on a lovely squidgy look (though of course you can’t touch) and its very properties, rather than its colours, are brought into focus.
The ATVP exhibition feels raw and developing;a bit gritty (it is King Street in springtime) and a bit of tearing and pulling at the edges. Fledgling artists need support and nurturing and places to show off and put out, to develop the confidence and finesse (however rough or smooth) to get them on a professional trajectory. I’m up for that this week, so why stop at only one space dedicated to emerging artists – there are plenty more.

Rochelle Haley Bird on a rock, 2012,
watercolour on paper, 24 x 19cm

image courtesy the artist and Galerie Pompom

Just as gritty in location, if not in feel, Rochelle Haley‘s exhibition Dead Precious in Galerie Pompom is a marvel. I felt like I’d stepped into a precious jewel box. Before me was a series of small, very finely and admirably rendered watercolours, laid out like trays of jewellery. The watercolours reveal glittering gemstones, some of which are set into animal skeletons, others laid bare with their fascinating facets. The gems and the skeleton imagery was literally dreamt-up, developed from a recurring dream the artist had of a gemstone sitting within the abdominal cavity of an animal skeleton. There is no Freudian analysis here, rather a deep and lengthy exploration of time, colour and light. Gemstones are cut to simultaneously entrap and project light and here, these stones sparkle against the chalky-ness of the bones, on the soft, textured paper. The 4 C’s, colour, cut, carat and clarity, have been beautifully elucidated, juxtaposed against the lightness, texture and fragility of the animal bones. Time creates both these elements then you, as the spectator, add the stories. Each of us comes to gemstones and skeletons with our own memories, fascinations and dreams. 

Rochelle Haley, Golden 2012  watercolour and white ink on tinted paper, 27 x 38cm
image courtesy the artist and Galerie Pompom

Rochelle Haley Gems, 2011, watercolour on paper, 30 x 30 cm
image courtesy the artist and Galerie Pompom

Haley is an interesting artist, working across different media, depending on her subject. Here the droplets of watercolours beautifully intensify colour and the feel of refracted light. 
Check out the video of Rochelle talking about this body of work from Das PlatformIt is a good body of work – not to be missed. Till Sept 22.
Fortune was on my side: a park right outside First Draft, in Surry Hills. As rare as the gorgeous pink sapphires I’d just admired in Galerie Pompom, it was a good omen and I had to seize it. I’m really glad I did. 

Jack Condon Untitled (Card tower) 2011
pigment print 67 x 100cm
image courtesy the artist and First Draft, Sydney

I have to admit, First Draft, whilst it has long been on my reasonably regular route, can be hit and miss. Again, it’s about emerging artists. It is an artist-run space, funded by the Australia Council, managed for a set term by a collective of artist/ directors. Its raison d’etre is to provide a space for fledgling artists to present their work to a discerning, critical audience. Set up by the Australia Council in the mid 80s, it was one of the first on the scene of artist run spaces to have a sound administrative structure and the promise of longevity. There is a great potted history on its website, which articulates well its influences and contributions to the art scene in Sydney over the past 30 years. 
This exhibition is more like four mini solo exhibitions, rather than a group show and it was great. I wouldn’t have called the works experimental – rather ones which were fairly well resolved, both conceptually and technically. But I guess that should be expected from 4 artists who, between them, have several 1st class honours from respected tertiary art institutions, awards and residencies under their belts. 
Jack Condon‘s large scale hyper-real photographs of the chaotic dregs of a uninspired suburban life were compelling. Each carefully staged, the tableaus hint at a frozen moment: a bunch of firecracker sparklers in full fizz; a house of cards tenuously bury someone; a couple caught in (an unerotic) mid-bounce on the bed, the only give away, a slight blurring of flyaway hair. The mess strewn everywhere reminded me of those “I Spy” kiddies books – look carefully at the detail and find the hidden objects and messages which tell the story. There seem to be many stories hidden just beneath the surface of these works.
Jesse Hogan‘s paintings were of floor talks. The endless adjunct to the conceptual exhibition is the often too conceptual, not always enlightening, floor talk. Here Jesse flips it around, with the floor talk within an exhibition space, as the subject. He alludes to ambiguities of language and authorship around the works by recreating the scene of other artists at work. Interesting.

Sara Morawetz  Quanta  installation shot
First Draft Gallery Sept 2012
image courtesy the artist
Sara Morawetz  Untitled from exhibition Quanta    
archival pen on paper
image courtesy the artist

Finely drawn lineal works and crafted molecular structures feature as Sara Morawetz’s Quanta installation. Free drawn, exquisite tension in long lines and dots, which are as much about randomness and minute irregularity as they are about incredibly focussed, finely tuned, exacting works. Her small sculptures are paper tetrahedrons, built to mathematical equations and precision, with the assistance of mathematician, Darren Engwirda. Numbers and forumlae can be very elegant.
Each of the artists promises potential. The works are for sale – this is the time and place to take a small risk and collect current work by a young, not-so-established artist.
Then to Peloton, also an artist run space, in Surry Hills. Not every artist-run-space is dedicated to emerging artists. Peloton offers itself to a broader spectrum. Opening last week was Derek Kreckler who is a well recognised, respected artist currently researching for PhD in Creative Arts at Wollongong University. This new work forms part of that continuum of research.

It was great to see new work by Kreckler and chat briefly to the man himself. Though very busy in Wollongong, it has been a while since we’ve seen him here in Sydney. It’s nice to see him back here.  

Derek Kreckler Dootch taking a breather after showing Kelton the best fishing spots 2012
installation image
image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Vincent Bicego

You may have seen some recent photographs of his, laid out large and quietly imposing on 2 billboards just past Heathcote on the Princes Hwy, as you’ve whizzed south. Unfortunately no longer there – artists’ personal budgets rarely stretch to long-term large scale outdoor advertising – you can see the images and more information about the two billboards online here. Their lovely subtlety is heightened in the advertising space, a space where we are used to being accosted and bombarded. His statement is equally as arresting and memorable. 

Derek Kreckler Document two (car) 2012
37.2 x 59.3cm dye-based inks on archival paper
images courtesy the artist

Kreckler’s new work talks more about chance and celebrating that moment when chance and accident shift the state of play. There is no attempt to be Johnny on the spot waiting with camera for these moments – a tree falling, a waitress with a tumbling tray of flutes – as these are wholly staged points in time. As with Condon’s work, Kreckler’s photographs also freeze a certain moment but it is the what next? that we are being asked to consider, rather than the what has been, which I think is Condon’s emphasis. 

Derek Kreckler Many a slip … 2012
195 x 236.6cm dye-based inks on archival paper
images courtesy the artist

On until 6 Oct.
It feels very comfortable being back in the blogging chair. I will keep at it. Until next time…..

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