Thursday, February 28, 2013

REVIEW: "Jamais Vu" at Anna Pappas Gallery

Last year in December Anna Pappas was announced as the new appointed president of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association, and during the Summer holiday break tackled Art Stage Singapore 2013. Two weeks later, she opened Anna Pappas Gallery's first show for the year: a stellar group exhibition with a solid, resounding theme, comprising 13 artists from Australia, the UK, Belgium, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Korea, titled "Project 13: Jamais Vu."

The better known deja vu is the phenomena in which an event or experience occurring in the present, seems to feel as though it has already occurred, as though it is a memory. However, unlike its familiarity-inducing cousin, jamais vu is basically the opposite of deja vu and is used to describe the phenomenon in which a recognisable and known experience can feel strangely foreign and unfamiliar: the known becomes the unknown.

Some of the artists in Jamais Vu have distorted the known, obscuring what would easily be recognisable, others have used filters to deceive, and some have used repetition to annihilate meaning.

Christopher L.G. Hill and Ernesto Rios take the familiar that is home, in both the domestic (Hill), and grand, world-renown architectural feats (Rios), and edit their subjects environment, both in real space and on the picture plane (respectively), in order to make their subject matter more abstracted and ill-fitting. Hill's otherwise homely detritus, become strange disconnected objects in the new spatial frame of the gallery space, and Rios selected planes of pyramids float in a misty-void, panelled forms partially clothing an unseen ghost-shell.

Claire Rae's photographic diptych and Danny Devos' video work present the laws of physics at play via the camera, both still and in motion, so that even a force as unfaltering as gravity becomes oddly dampened, rather than remaining factual and constant.

Even the oft pronounced dead art form of oil painting is used by Stephen Giblett to upscale a blurry, light saturated photo taken on a mobile phone in a night club. A real event captured digitally, and then analogously bought to life with painting, is a process which has created impenetrable layers of material translation and distance in-between the original event and the final outcome. To try and resurrect an image of the original event from the painting, would be as impossible as trying to remove and separate the eggs, milk and flour from an already baked cake.

Project 13: Jamais Vu acknowledges that art, as a collective group of signifier's,  will never attain the status of what they represent, they will never be real, and presents a selection of artworks that can be read as a  collection of meta-signifier's that acknowledge their strange unnerving place between the known and the unknown, between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

Project 13: Jamais Vu is on at Anna Pappas until Saturday 2nd March. See for details.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ask Away: Why does security love to follow me?

Occasional I get asked for advice via email, facebook and or sms on a great number of many different quandaries relating to the arts about etiquette, applications and proposals, art making, matters of the heart, and over any given amount of time, some questions from numerous unconnected and unrelated people repeat themselves.

Today I received this sms from Albert, who asks a common question:

Aces! I need your advice: every time I go to see an exhibition at the NGV, the guards ghost around me like I'm an art theif or a vandal. What the cripes?
Yours most Sincerely,

Ah yes, you see Albert, the guards at the NGV follow several philosophical, psychological and spiritual schools of thought in unison, one of which is to regard every entity (most of which happen to be human in their experience) that enters an art gallery to be either 'good' or 'bad' (this is of course especially possible if we do away with Spinoza, and instead focus on the duality of the Yin and Yang, and our nations admiration for the equal yet opposing possibly results of a coin toss).

Given that there is no way of determining which patrons are good or bad, or any way at all to even prove of anyone else of even having their own mind or sentient intelligence of their own, the security guards tend to rely on a combination of Murphy's Law and the physical law of entropy, albeit the later is applied to the moral compass of all patrons and not so much the matter of which they are comprised, meaning that by this logic, most people are 'bad' and only a small portion are 'good', and as mentioned, no way of telling one from the other.

The actions of the 'good' simply wander around the spaces, peering thoughtfully at images and objects and rarely unattended cleaners carts laden with sanitizing products and rags, whilst furrowing their brows and holding their chins. The actions of the 'bad' deceptively mimic those of the good, but if unobserved for even a moment, could launch themselves at an artwork wielding a mallet, as was the case in 1997, or could simply nab a work, as in the 1997 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair starring Pierce Brosnan. My advice is to stop looking like a debonair playboy who has nothing better to do than commit opportunistic crimes, such as art theft. 

However, opportunistic crime, such as theft, is most common with the working class, so perhaps you appear less like a debonair playboy and more like a working class lad that has the possibility of looking like an working class opportunistic thief, given the opportunity, that is, if no one were looking.

It may also not help that the guards spend much of their time during their 14 hour shifts standing in one room, with only their own minds to keep them company and thus come up with all many of hybrid philosophies and theories, some of which are detailed above, and thus are overjoyed when a member of the general public strays into their jurisdiction because it means that they, as security guards, finally have some security to be guarding from a possible threat, unfortunately that possible threat is yourself, the humble appreciator of fine art. 

My conclusion is that you can't help a security guards actions, nor what they think, or what their personal convictions may be so simply ignore them or, do as I do, and pretend not to speak english by smiling and nodding blankly when spoken to, and occasionally if needed, creating a couple of possibly russian sounding words in feigned puzzlement and confusion such as 'erh-toh brorshk? brorshk?' or 'nah, burgh hojshk mish?'. Of course this strategy doesn't help me in the slightest because the guards no that I work at the gallery and both speak and understand english, but it may serve you in your shroud of anonymity somewhat better than myself.

Happy art viewing and, as Kimi always says: 'Godspeed!'. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

REVIEW: 'HNNGAHGGHH!'- Quenton Miller

Within the realm of art, there exists a phenomena within the practical making of work known as the 'happy accident'. Sometimes an accidental, unconscious or incidental addition to a work in progress can be aesthetically fortuitous, even though it may have been unseen and outside of what was planned and deliberate.

It could be said that Jackson Pollock (or any other gestural abstract expressionist, because what's the difference in their process, right?) implemented actions within his art making process for the happy accident to occur, because whilst he was selective of the type of paint, its colour and its general placement on the canvas, he relinquished some control over exactly where the paint would fall, especially when compared to a realist oil painter, as there is a large degree of variables as to how the paint might fall, splatter, splash and spill, however, mentioning this fact would be entirely obvious and boring.

There is an interesting friction between the planned and the accidental, and when they occur together or alongside each other, and not just within the act of art-making as this phenomena happens within the wilds of reality also, it allows us to see how fragile the best laid schemes are by their apparent ease to be unravelled by the arbitrary and unintentional1, or seemingly stranger, to be bettered.

Have you ever looked at a cloud and noticed how similar its shape was to a rabbit, or kitten (or any other fluffy animal, because what's the difference in their suggested cuddliness of form , right?) and wondered what the chances are that the accidental shape of a cloud which is informed by complex high-altitude wind currents, temperature, and percentage of water within the air could end up looking like a recognisable shape? Ever noticed how 'monkeys write' is an anagram of 'New York Times'?

Within our lives there is no end to the coincidental (between both the common and opposing), mixed messages, inconsistencies, and similarities; it is within this playground of interpretable data gathered from the world around him that Quenton Millers exhibition 'HNNGAHGGHH!' at Rear View Gallery gains its conceptual fuel.

Miller is obviously intrigued by interpretation, of both image and text and seeks out their limits through inquisitive play, not only in the presentation of his own work, but also by inviting the viewer to participate.

There is a liberal soaking of nonsense to help disparate ideas stick together, and thus become humorous, which can be seen in a drawing that suggests we charge rich mosquitoes when they drink our blood (its funny as insects have no concept of money and therefore cannot be rich or charged for there blood-letting, fool!).

Its an obvious nod to the Seussian School2 and the illogical, non-sequitur humour that is the favored comedic form by many performers (Lonely Island3, the Mighty Boosh4), and popular television (South Park5, Family Guy6, The Aquabats Super Show!7 and Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!8) but Miller steers clear of wanting all the attention for himself by getting others in on the fun and playing out open-ended performances like a party.

Millers work 'A Drawing Bar' exists as an arrangement of objects in the space (drawings, gin, tequila, and plastic shot glasses, placed on a bar stool), but also serves the function of a spatial anchor for people to stand around drinking, telling jokes and drawing during the opening of the exhibition. Just as his wall-work 'L O B S T E R S' isn't just simple giant aluminium letters nailed to the wall but a challenge and invitation for the viewer to contribute to a proposed aptly titled book in the making: 'ANAGRAMS OF LOBSTERS'.

The Lobster of course is an icon from art history and culture, its form being used and reused in work by Hieronymus Bosch, Lewis Carroll, Eugene Delacroix, Albrecht Druer, and eventually, Salvador Dali reappropriated the lobster as a kind of visual-anagram, when he used it as a rotary phone handset because of the similar size and shape that both the crustacean and the handset shared. It is this mastery of unrestrained and absurd thinking that allows Miller to meld almost opposing concepts together.

The cobbled-together nature of Millers jerry-rigged ideas, sometimes ill fitting, carries through in his construction and presentation: photos and images are simply taped to the wall and a display plinth appears to be hastily constructed from found timber; the appearance of these elements used to present the ideas in the work are not what's important. Similarly Millers drawings are rudimentary images that only exist as a vehicle for a punchline or 2D rendezvous point for ideas that would other wise never encounter each other, to meet in the physical realm, just as visitors to the exhibition might do at the 'Drawing Bar'.

Perfection and seriousness and stringent thinking are over-rated and boring, there is no room for exploration within their confines. Artists and musicians have been winging-it, thinking less and urging us to get stupid9 and even retarded10 for years, have a shot of tequila, do a drawing, drop noodles on avant garde Russian reproductions11, or whatever else it takes lose the inhibition, follow intuition and break from tradition12, and Miller, like many before him, is listening and preaching.


1Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men (1937).

2Seuss, Theodor. Wrote imaginative and nonsensical children's books under the pen name Dr Seuss for which he is better known as (1904-1991).

3Lonely Island is a US comedy troupe comprising Akiva 'Kiv' Schaffer, Jorma 'Jorm' Taccone and David Andrew 'Andy' Samberg (2001).

4The Mighty Boosh is a UK comedy troupe featuring Jullian Barratt and Noel Fielding (1998).

5South Park is a US cartoon created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (1997).

6Family Guy is a US cartoon created by Seth MacFarlane (1999).

7The Aquabats Super Show! Is a US action-comedy live-action television series created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz based on the mythology of the Aquabats, a real Californian rock band.

8Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! Is a US comedy-sketch television series created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (2007).

9Madonna, Give It 2 Me, Hard Candy, (2008).

10The Black Eyed Peas, Lets get Retarded, Elephunk, (2003).

11Email from Quenton Miller (2012).

12The Black Eyed Peas, Lets get Retarded, Elephunk, (2003).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LINK: A to Z of Contemporary Art

Andrew Frost has a great article on the Sydney Morning Herald site. For a lot of people it'll be 'no new news' and if thats the case just read on and feel affirmed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NEWS: Ellwood returns to NGV

Tony Ellwood, who left his post as a deputy director at NGV to take up the directorship of both the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in 2007, will leave the sunshine state to return for the top gig at NGV.

Despite having said he wouldn't be leaving twin-state galleries QAG and GOMA, it'll be confirmed by Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu tomorrow morning. In his time Ellwood had raised the galleries to be nations most popular.

When comparing the figures, the NGV received almost a million less visitors, 800,000 to be exact, then its northern contemporaries, making it something of a 'renovators dream' for Ellwood. The NGV has also lost some favour with the public for not keeping up with contemporary art, and this was most noticable last year when the NGV did not renew Contemporary art curator Alex Bakers contract who was billed as "a breath of fresh air" for the gallery.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

art crush- Jaś Domicz

After 'Dolphin painting project'

Thursday, October 27, 2011

REVIEW: Cluster- Adam John Cullen

Cluster: agroupofthingsorpersonsclosetogther. The invite image (below) for Cullen’s show ‘Cluster’ both repulsed and intrigued me, it was the photograph of an open-palmed hand that had a cluster of small, green caterpillars crawling all over it. I hate caterpillars, I don’t know why, my fear may stem from some deeply hidden trauma that’s locked away in my subconscious. The image was a great psychological-masochistic motivator.

Cullen’s work in the exhibition was spread between two rooms, connected by a small window (below) between them, whilst this architectural anomaly is a fixture of Rearview gallery, the multiple rooms lend weight to the underlying concept of grouping, clusters and assemblages, as the separate display spaces themselves come together as a collective.

The first and smaller room of the two spaces is an introduction, a preface comprising of a few photos and some sculptural works on the floor (above), in order to prep the viewer for the second room. Models of black stalagmites rise out of sheets of pine ply (below), they are pillars of accumulated mass, mass that is delivered in tiny particles over hundreds of thousands of years. Stalagmites, like everything, are slow forming clusters, geological clusters of H²O molecules and dust, clusters of atoms. The entire universe comprises of the same building materials that exploded out during the big bang and everything is a new cluster, a new reorganisation, of these minute parts.

The second space feels much less like an incubator or studio space of ideas, and holds the crafted results of his practice: a collection of collages, displayed under uniformed wood panels, under perspex. The works dominate the space, surrounding the viewer, an army of cubic Petri dishes containing the collaged mashed mutants of matter, pictorial hybrids in which landscapes, architecture, botany, and portraiture are fused together, again affirming the similarity between all matter and that all of existences matter emitted from the same source.

Taken from disparate sources and of differing subject matter, the images are not joined in order to create a new recognisable picture or scene, but are joined together by shadows, outlines, colours, creating a loss of gravity or orientation within the image, parts existing together rather than wholes. Even Frankenstein’s monster was comprised of like parts, those of human anatomy, Cullens single-cell patchworks are impossible combinations that could never occur in nature.

Monday, October 24, 2011

art crush- Matt Golden

Matt Golden, Paint Trays, 2005.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

REVIEW: The Band, It makes no difference- Rohan Schwartz

Apathy. Pathos. Everything is the same, it may as well all collapse, or condense, whatever, either one, it doesn’t matter which, and that’s the point: artistic apathy. That’s what is happening in the magazine, ‘Bohemia’ (below), produced by Schwartz: layers of images and text all flattened out to one plane, unreadable, indistinguishable, a huge mess of corrupted visual data, all of it as equally important, or as unimportant, as each other.

Forget art history, or arts theoretical frameworks, the ideology for an artistic practice or exhibition can be formed song titles that express the aforementioned lament (below). Abandon thought and consume popular music in lieu of reading philosophy.

On one table is a copy of The Labyrinth of Solitude with a colour photocopied selection of Australian currency peeking out from the pages (below). If we are to learn anything from Octavio Paz, it’s that ‘Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition’ and because it’s so universally familiar, you could probably make a buck out of every single person on the planet by exploiting it.

Pop-musicians (inadvertedly?) use it to convince millions of hormone-riddled teenage girls all over the world that their clichéd sonnets are actually personal messages of love and devotion directed to each and every hopeful, naive, little Miss. Religion takes full advantage of the inescapable truth of solitude and death and sets its sights on a target audience well beyond the small demographic of prepubescent fan-girls. Religion aims at everyone, even members of other religions, no holds barred.

Before you even enter the exhibition you’re faced with a free-standing promotional banner guarding the entrance, however the message it delivers isn’t trying to sell us anything but instead proclaims ‘GOD IS IN LOVE’ (above), but it may as well read ‘SANTA CLAUS IS IN LOVE’. The absurd announcement is printed in virginal, holy white text on a blue skyed photo background, the visual elements amplifying the insanity of speaking for an omnipotent, omniscient, deity whose existence is questionable.

An exhibition review probably shouldn’t be written in suite with the show itself, but (just as Schwartz asks via The Smiths) ‘what difference does it make’?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

REVIEW: Private Gladiator- Janet Beckhouse and André Ethier

The exhibition shares its name with a pornographic remake of the blockbuster ‘Gladiator’ from 2000, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russel Crowe. The pornographic remake, ‘Private Gladiator’, is a blatant scene-for-scene refilming of Gladiator, except with over 9000 times[1] more sex. It is also touted as being one of the most expensive pornographic films ever, although its budget would be insignificant compared to the $103 million dollars it cost to make ‘Gladiator’.

The work by Janet Beckhouse and André Ethier mirrors this act of remaking that occurred with Gladiator and Private Gladiator: both extreme variations of what we know about the world with a liberal dose of extra sexuality and energy added.

Beckhouse’s work is littered with skulls, bones, seaweed and mutated sirens of the sea, exposing their junk boldly, like they’re usin’ their goods as the bait for man-trap, akin to the feminine monsters in classic Grecian tales of heroism and adventure.

Each figure is a possible strand or divergent that could have occurred in our own evolutionary history. This idea is given strength by the fact that these beastly femme-fatales are perched within their ceramic dioramas on the side of a vase surrounded by human skeletal remains, our remains, we the failed, unfit, human species.

clockwise from top left: 'Crocodile Woman', 'Blessed Relief', 'Grow Fins', and 'Flame Woman', 2011, Janet Beckhouse.

The work is baroque, flowery and leafy. Ceramic isn’t necessarily a delicate medium, museum pieces have proven that it can survive thousands of years, and yet Beckhouse crafts it so ornately. The subject matter occupies a similar dichotomy: the women are physically young and beautiful, but their poses and claws or sharp teeth tell us that they are wild and dangerous, as does the underwater graveyard they live in.

This is work that teenage boys would be very much interested in, from a hormone driven perspective, there is tits and ass, baring all to the viewer with some even adopting the lewd open mouthed expression of blow-up sex-dolls, all framed by grisly elements of death. Generally speaking though, there is more care and meticulous craftsmanship in the work than an average teenage boy would be capable of.

'Untitled', 2007, André Ethier, (courtesy of the artist and Derek Eller Gallery)

André Ethier’s paintings account for the other half of the work in Private Gladiator. Ethier’s 2-D works bounce layers of bright coloured washes, often spectrally clashing, a visual effect that manically vibes and hums, as if in a drug or fever fuelled state which resonates at the same frequency as the energy and movement in Beckhouses sculptures.

This visual static-mania depicts the visions of an altered state of possible alternative evolutionary forms: hybrid shamans with celestrial flames radiating from their heads, bouquets of mutant plant life mimicking delicate and aroused human genitals, picturesque summer meadows occupied by sedate animal-men with manes that take styling cues from both the carnivorous African lion and the now extinct 1960’s, free-lovin’, hippy-archetype, and the portrait of a star-cheeked, cyclopic, bearded man.

The exhibition as a whole is both balanced and in conflict between the two fantastical strains of work as a collective as it is obvious the work is by two different artists, working in two different disciplines and mediums, yet both stylistically complement each other so well. Private Gladiator flits in spasms between sex and death, the fragile and the dangerous, creating fantasy by slightly perverting what is real and known.

[1] Dragonball Z, ep. 28, ‘Goku’s Arrival’. Within the episode, the Saiyan warrior Nappa asking "Vegeta, what does the scouter say about his power level?" Vegeta replies, "It's over 9000!" and then crushes the scouter in his hand. The scene is completely overdramatic and the power level 9000 seems to completely arbitrary. The scene was made famous and achieved meme status when it was posted by the user Kajetokun on YouTube in its entirety once and then replayed several times at a variety of speeds, and interspersed with a clip from GaoGaiGar. The term has now come to mean ‘a great deal’ or an simply an unquantifiably-large amount. Dragonball Z became known for its focus on fighting and violence yet created as a cartoon and marketed at children. Ten points if used to describe violence and pays homage to the original context.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

art crush- James Kirkpatrick

Super Nice Guy: Tim Andrew

Mister Tim Andrew has sent me a new copy of his super limited edition book titled 'Thousand-Yard Stare'.

Each page assumes a zen-like authority by displaying a small piece of text in the center, each is a slap in the face, back-chat, or just a joke, and thanks to the formatting, all of them masquerade as a pearls of wisdom.

Some gems include:

"I have difficulty being sincere... just kidding."

"I'm having trouble reining in my brilliance today and it's spilling onto everyone and getting wasted."

"Done with enough confidence, anything may be acceptable."

Disposable advice in an age in which everyone has approximate knowledge of just about everything.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

REVIEW: Pacific Riff- James Dodd

Summer is holiday time: bright, blue skies, cold drinks, warm, lazy days, good music blaring, and every night begins with a sunset that sets an ocean horizon ablaze. Ferdinand was right, “It’s always better on Holiday”[i], life’s quality is affirmed so much that you can’t help but cry out in agreence “I’m alive!”.[ii]

James Dodds Pacific Riff takes the known visual anchors of summer and condenses them down into a corresponding colour palette, strong sunset reds, oranges, yellows, ice cold green lime dashed drinks, and bright sky blues. These colours and what they signify is immediately clear, peered at close range, out of focus, through a peephole surrounded by the black boundary of the edges of the picture plane.

Each painting becomes a portal to a proposed bright, coastal utopia, beyond the impenetrable looking-glass of the paintings surface. It’s impossible for the works to not act as triggers, evoking personal memories with the coloured codes of experience: the crisp taste of a cold drink with a lemon wedge, the feel of the sun on your skin, a cool breeze in the shade of a palm.

These associations are also enforced by the artworks titles such as Deep Lime, Peachy Mando, Icy Menthol, Mango Umber, Alpine Tropicana. The titles themselves are surreal, content, often contradictory, marriages of words associated with the beach and holidaying.

If only getting away from it all was as easy a trip as Alices, except minus the mania, and falling into the warm, salty sea-breeze of a Dodd constructed paradise of colour.


[i], [ii] Franz Ferdinand, Jacqueline (2004)

[iii] Benson, ‘Regular Show’, 2010

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

art crush- Olaf Breuning

Review: V.A.- curated by Dylan Martorell

‘Red wire goes to the red plug, yellow to the yellow, its easy’

‘but theres a whole bunch of red and yellow plugs on the tv and the dvd player’

‘plug the cables into the red and yellow ‘output’ plugs on the dvd player and plug the other end of the cables into the ‘input’ plugs on the back of the tv, because the video and sound is going out of the dvd player and into the tv’

‘Got it’


‘is it working?’

‘yeah but theres no sound’

‘jiggle the plug, is the plug pushed in completely?’

‘oh yeah, its working now’

An AV cable (AV being short for Audio Visual) is the link that allows the transmission of sound and image between compatible electronic media devices. Dylan Martorell curates ‘VA’ at utopian slumps, an inversion of AV, a group exhibition that consists of artists that make visual work first, and are secondly, also interested in sound, visual before audio, ‘V’ before ‘A’.

The exhibition is a visual sonnet to sound, played out by the overall composition of the collection of objects and images, a symphony for the eyes. Martorell adopts the dual role of both curator and exhibitor, the concept behind the exhibition is one which applies to his own practice and bringing other artists that also have similar interests and ideas provides the depth of investigation that occurs with multiple perspectives, rather than the tunnel vision and ego that can invariably accompany a solo exhibition.

Martorells own work (above) thunders like a jazz festival of found objects, a collection of loud bold plastic-povera artefacts rearranged into a greater orchestral composition by confident intuition, and applying utilitarian connective elements (like string and cable ties) that hold the end product together, much like the repetition of chords and riffs that will bind a song together.

There is an obvious fusion of genres in Martorells work: a heavy metal styled medieval goblet sits above Aztec or Peruvian patterned matting, next to a Rastafarian coloured budgerigar, and a jerry rigged industrial xylophone made from rusting scrap-metal panels, all elements harmoniously in chorus, singing out loudly, and brightly.

These assemblages of Martorells also appear to be functional instruments of sorts that could be used to make sound, simply because of the transparent use of actual musical instruments, old speakers or other audio equipment, as well as other non-musical objects of which it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine being used as makeshift instruments themselves.

In comparison to Martorells work as loud sight-noise, John Nixon’s Colour Rythym Discs (above) are ordered, bold, staccato punctuations of specific and condensed colour-studies. Using the measurements of antiquated vinyl records as the uniformed foundations for his straight-edged, abstract paintings, which with their small scale and unique shape, read like colourfield miniatures, or more geographically, they are the result of what would happen should the colourfield be subdivided into more manageable, smaller suburban plots of land: individual partial-spectrum inquisitions joined by similarity of format and underlying material ground.

These Colour Rhythm Discs of Nixon also poke fun at arts general lack of function; even though the Colour Rhythm Discs are imposters masquerading as vinyl records, the charade is short lived and the discs knowingly reveal their musical impotence as they superfluously rotate on a operational record player, each of them performing a perfect impersonation of a Cage 3’14” remix.

The idea of images or information in disguise and the artists hand in the removal of function is also the crux of Marco Fusinato’s Mass Black Implosion (Aggolomeration, Anestis, Logothetis) Variation II (above left) and Victor Meertens The Hidden Records of Historic Paintings and his unplayable ‘cooked’ LP records (above right). In Fusinato’s work, he adopts the written language of music but converts the markings till they are an unreadable and functionless layered mass of information. Meertens takes advantage of the multiple definition of the world ‘record’, using the pun as the punchline for his defaced LP record sleeves whilst the records themselves have been reduced to mutilated shadows of their prior pristine forms, structurally disfigured by searing temperatures.

The real strength in Martorell’s curatorial casting is that he has chosen artists that recognise the unique nuances that make the visual and audial different, and instead of trying to translate these specific portions of non-transference, they are bought to the fore in their exclusion and absence: the lack of sound in Nixons discs, Martorells functional detritus reformed into a collective, non-usable art object, the information of sheet music made redundant by Fusinato, and Meertens musically-crippled and physically-mutated vinyl records. These works only highlight how neither the image or sound can supersede the qualities each other, but each can be used to individually bolster the other when dancing in duality, like in a film, the harmonius melding of audio and visual as AV, or, VA.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

art crush- Michael Schmidt

REVIEW: The Matter of Air - curated by Jacqueline Doughty

Air is the common name given to the combination of gases in the earth’s atmosphere, which includes, but is not limited to: oxygen. Air, as it turns out, is only 20.95% oxygen. Whilst the chemical formulae for water is H2O, two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom, it still comprises roughly 50% of water, as an oxygen atom is approximately twice as large as a hydrogen atom.

If we use some basic math, with liberal lashings of whimsy to supplement our lack of scientific knowledge, we can deduce, with plenty of estimative buffering, that we ourselves are a good portion ephemeral, wispy, gaseous beings: our bodies are 60-70% water, and as mentioned water is roughly half oxygen, on an atomic level at least, we could say that the physical construct of our bodies is roughly made up of 30-45% oxygen, making us, technically speaking, almost half gas, rather than completely solid. There is more oxygen within our very being than the air that we breathe. Disengage whimsy-to-math cognitive-coupling. Resume writing.

Air is also our invisible life support system, the womb-sac that encases our spaceship of a planet as we make our gajillionth revolution around our little star. If it were to slowly disappear from our atmosphere so would we, our lungs would drag us from this life so that our bodies could feed the plants. Similarly, if oxygen in our atmosphere were to increase, we would all be so calm and docile, Hindu cows, we would barely be able to function, and most likely meet our end through inactivity with big dopey grins like the poor saps illustrated on the emergency procedure manuals found on commercial airliners.

As curator, Jacqueline Doughty has assembled the artists for ‘The Matter of Air’ so that their work transforms the gallery into a showroom of presentations on the abilities and nuances of air, displaying both documented feats (Michaela Gleave, ‘7 Hour Balloon Work’, 2010; João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva collection of 5 16mm studies, 2006-2010) as well as work which allows air, as a material, to perform on its own with props provided by the artist (Zilvinas Kempinas, ‘Double O’, 2008; Dane Mitchell, ‘Various Solid States’, 2010-11; Michaela Gleave, ‘Cloud House’, 2011) and that which observes air as a still, contemplative and mediative force which simply sits and exists, ever present (Sannè Mestrom, ‘Compression Chamber’, 2011).

The exhibition engages us: as a viewer, passively observing still objects, or documentation; and as a participant that actively negotiates with air as a live phenomena, which when utilised by Michaela Gleave’s ‘Cloud House’ and Zilvinas Kempinas, ‘Double O’ specifically, place the audience on par with air as a substance at the most opposing outcomes of its potential states of existence: as a manic, violent energy, and as a soft, delicate, lethargic entity.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Super Nice Guy: Matte Stephens

A little while back I wrote about painter Matte Stephens as he had and upcoming exhibition at Outre Gallery in Melbourne, and today, I received an original work from the man himself of a happy, bow-tie wearing, cyclist riding into the wind!

Thankyou Mister Stephens, master of gouache and super nice guy!

Ace Wagstaff

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NEWS: Gerard Vaughan resigns as director of NGV

Here is the big man himself having a laugh with a faux-Gogh. (Photo: John Woudstra)

The big man is stepping down after 12 years and the search is on for a replacement.

Hopeful applicants should send resumes to:

Review: RMIT First Site

There is a trio of shows by RMIT students at RMIT’s first site gallery that is worth seeing, and whilst the three exhibitions and artists are separate, the nature of their work and underlying concepts are very complimentary of each other; all of the exhibitions have work which features material metamorphous over time. These similarly themed shows are the result of thorough exhibition planning and programming by First Site’s gallery curator, Simon Pericich. The hard work on his part is much welcomed when a suite of exhibitions like these come along.

Gallery one is occupied by Ara Dolatian and his installation titled ‘perceptual’. The title may come across to some as being a little bit loaded, being a composite of the words ‘concept’ and ‘perception’, and is a little bit misleading in this regard as the work is not about the concepts of perception or any other meeting ground between the two.

Instead, Dolatian has constructed a system in which dyed liquids encased in vessels, slowly and gradually escape their confines, by their own unseen means, along a network of fabric thread by soaking into and along these fibrous pathways.

This in itself is an interesting and colourful experiment but even the structures that have been assembled by Dolation to aid the process and support the lethargic quest are incredible works in their own right.

These stands are quite simple tripods with shelves branching out at different heights, they’re almost multi-layered lecterns, platforms from which spectral information is delivered, oozing out slowly in its own time.

The tripods and the vessels are really exquisite objects also, filled with beautiful small imperfections and character, earnest in their production. The vessels containing the dye are ceramic similes of ye-olde-style milk bottles, cast in white slip, slightly lopsided and irregularly formed. The wooden stands appear to have undergone the lengthy process of being carved by hand, whittled down indiscriminately, judged by the artists discerning eye so that interest can be found in the varying widths and sizes.

This idea of the artists hand in manipulation of medium and the presentation of a materials live metamorphous in front of the viewer as a performance conducted by the object itself, sans-artist, is repeated by Linda Loh in Gallery Two and Skye Kelly in Gallery Three, although there are differences in their approaches to the concept.

The exhibitions are on till the 18th of September.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

REVIEW: Sortie- Claire Anna Watson

‘Sortie’ is Watsons beautiful and disturbing large scale video work, a work that resembles both clinical-analysis, video documentation and luscious, flesh-torture porn.

The viewer is greeted with the organically rounded lush, red pyramid, spot lit against a background of darkness, theatrically centre-stage, an inanimate actor delivering a silent monologue. After a moment we become aware that this object before us is a strawberry, vibrant and swollen, a ripe fertile goddess.

Cue the horror: a pair of surgical grade tweezers enters stage left, guided by an unseen operator, begins to slowly peck away at a seed. The neutering of just one of so many other seeds appears as random cruelty without reason or justification. Eventually, the unknown antagonist is successful; the seed is plucked from the flesh and withdraws into the darkness. Violence magnified.

The tweezers return under the still, emotionless eye of the video camera, ready to strike again. The action is repeated: the live abortion of one of the possible hundreds, or thousands of tiny cocooned life-forms (seeds), clinging and imbedded to the parental, defenceless life support system, shot in high definition.

One by one, meticulously, slowly, patiently, the off screen perpetrator assaults the fruit until it has no possible chance of it progeny. With the seeds removed, it’s at this point that the real horror begins. The maligned metal pincers return, with the task of seed removal accomplished, they mechanically turn on the strawberry itself, tearing apart flesh and form, masticating what is solid and releasing, the berrys thick, viscous, oozing innards.

Sortie is a crime against nature on the tiniest scale, against one the of smallest most defenceless victims, but every violent detail is amplified. Claire Anna Watson makes Dario Argento wish that he was a greengrocer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NEWS: contact dead hare about your exhibition or event!

dead hare now has an easily accessible gmail account ( so that artists, curators and event organisers can email with invites and media releases.

If you would like your exhibition or event reviewed on deadhare please email a media release and any relevant support material (invitation, images with clearly defined file names, artists CV, the original proposal or application, or a brief piece of text outlining the main ideas, materials, nuances, concepts, anecdotes, etc) to:

Sincerely, honestly, thankfully, earnestly, humbly, truthfully,
Ace Wagstaff.

Friday, May 27, 2011

art crush- Greg Bagin

Greg Bagin, 'Our Happy Little Planet', 2008.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ARTICLE: get cultured & stress less

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have found a strong link between cultural pursuits, happiness and health, that is independent of socio-economic status, after analysing data from 50,797 adults regarding their leisure activities, perception of their own health, and levels of stress and anxiety. There was a difference between the sexes however: men gained more and felt as ease being spectators and more passive, whilst women liked to get involved and preferred doing.

The study concluded by claiming "the results indicate the use of cultural activities in health care may be justified".

"Cultured people happier, less stressed: study" AFP:

Monday, May 23, 2011

REVIEW: Mantle- Alanna Lorenzon and Lucy Berglund

Mantle sits upon, is the holder and supporter, the upper that is propped and the propped uppera.

Alanna Lorenzon and Lucy Berglund’s exhibition ‘Mantle’ is a selection of completely differing objects and images on display: small, palm-sized, peaceful drawings on paper pinned straight to the wall, a handmade, hooded jacket prototype, a video work, and an installation which engages floor and wall space. This varied itinerary may give the impression of a disjointed and unorganised presentation of separate exploratory artistic material-based experiments, but, in truth, the wide spread of approaches point conceptually inwards to one thoroughly considered idea: the stoic nature of the earth.

The unified collection collectively emphasises the earth as: stone, granite, strata’s of thick, densely packed rock, that are still, that are immobile, worn, heavy. Mantle is the earths cloak and covering but also the planets exoskeleton and innards.

This idea of appearances is directly referenced by one of the works within the exhibition: a small, handheld, plastic, make-up mirror (above) has been converted into an artworks frame. The mirror, a tool to feed vanity and superficiality, has been made redundant and removed, in favour of an image representative of eternal strength, which in comparison is no match for the fleeting, passing of youthful beauty.

Visual cues to stone are repeated throughout the exhibition, from the gentle soft slopes of the grey slate coloured jacket, to the faux-marble finish of a table supporting a television showing a video work comprised of noir-documentary footage on caves.

Lorenzon and Berglund show how stone is both macro and micro: stone is on the inside as it is on the outside, regardless of scale. This idea presents rock, at least in concept, as an equal to both the greatest and smallest examples of matter, a partner to atomic particles and celestial planets alike. It is matter which has been and will be.

‘Mantle’ rocks like geology.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

art crush- Ryan Schneider

Ryan Schneider, Send Me Through, 2010

REVIEW:Overkill- Sam Songailo

Visual Art is a mostly tamed beast, its passive and inert physical characteristics, mean that it is easily imprisoned within frames and locked behind a glass barrier so that the viewing public stare upon it whilst it is held against the wall. Sam Songailo’s painted work that in part comprises ‘Overkill’ is anything but tame, it is passive and inert, as is most 2D work that utilises inanimate objects such as paper or canvas stretched on timber frames as a platform, but these paintings have outgrown restrictive frames in order to both tower above and engulf the viewer.

Songailo’s untitled panels fill the gallery walls from floor to ceiling, taking over the very structure that houses it, comparatively, Songailo’s work is to the gallery, as a parasite is to the host. The work easily surpasses the walls existence and now appears to support the ceiling; it is a patterned visual virus of growth via self replication and repetition.

The same panels are displayed flat on the floor in another section of the gallery, as though the area has become infected, converting the ground to Songailos block pattern contagion. This simple visual pattern, like a virus, is a relatively simple form, a composition of brick like patterns that is a clear nod to the constructive particles ‘tetris’ and other 8bit games from a now dead decade, but the aesthetic lives on.

Overkill is not just dominance via the enveloping two dimensional visual virus, in the centre of the gallery sits a large white dome, its allegiance is uncertain: it’s either a bastion of escape or a destructive tumour akin to the infection occupying the most of the walls and floor. Its interior is a sci-fi igloo: metallic floor coverings reflect ultraviolet lights.

The structures motives, as to whether it is a protector or predator, seem ominously vague. Once within the belly of the dome, an individual is protected but simultaneously cut off from the rest of reality, sensorially deprived, a noticeably and dramatic shift from the visually onslaught in the rest of the space.

Songailo even manages to transfer his patented visual virus to visitors as every exhibition invite is a self adhering sticker and replica of his work, meaning the work has the opportunity to bleed out of the gallery and onto street walls, skateboards or bus stops, to name a couple of likely locations out of the infinite number of places that they could end up.

Thankfully the world is inhabited by many visual beasts of different aesthetic qualities, shapes, colours and forms, so the likelihood of Songailo's unique strain achieving cultural pandemic proportions is slim. Variety of will, as always, continue to flourish.

Monday, May 16, 2011

art crush- Vuk Vidor

Vuk Vidor’s Art History (part 1) poster.