Monday, April 6, 2009

ON NOW - only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur - Bianca Hester

"only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur"
Bianca Hester
The Narrows
02 April - 02 May 2009


An eclipse is only viewable by someone standing on the surface of the earth. The same goes for the more common phenomenon of night and day... and anyone wishing to view Bianca Hester's exhibition, "only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur" at the Narrows. Be aware that this isn’t only just Hester’s show, its gravity's as well. It’s a collaboration.

The door of the gallery is kept open by two forces: large, heavy, grey cinder blocks on the floor and a strip of tape passing across the space of the open door from the frame to the door itself, making the gallery space, directly interconnected to the world outside. This idea is reaffirmed as the viewer notices that the installation exists outside of the space as well, penetrating the wall of the gallery and into the hall through a newly cut hole and, out of the office window, and into another second storey window across the laneway. In this inclusive act of the outside wall in the installation Hester is making the public statement that the laws-o-physics apply inside of the gallery just as much outside, specifically gravity.

The floor is paved with the large grey cinder blocks that keep the door open, another reference to gravity, this time through weight, a couple of sparse lengths of fluoro orange rope pulled taut dart at all angles across the space and outside of it, imitating beams of light or the uninterrupted path of matter invasive particles soaring across the universe, and lastly a strip of tape gently meanders the length of the space via the walls (the height presumably limited by Hester’s reach) like a far off smokey whisp of a barely visible horizon; all phenomena unique to an observer standing on the surface of the earth. The real gold in the installation is Hester's glass of water and the lighting, but I'm not going to tell you why, for the same reason I didn’t tell you that DiCaprio died at the end of Titanic: spoilers aren’t very considerate.

"only from the perspective of an observer located upon the surface of the earth does day and night occur" is in part art-povera melded with aesthetic-pseudo-science but mostly it’s a great example of Hester’s ability to see common materials in new ways, ways in which these common materials take on new qualities and also reflect non-physical ideas and thoughts, both of which were apparently inherent the entire time but not seen.

ON NOW - Drawing Folio

"Drawing Folio"
Curated by John Nixon and Justin Andrews
02 April - 25 April 2009


'Drawing Folio' is a real gift. Really. Honestly. Its exciting and fun and it doesnt need batteries. I'm not lying. John Nixon and Justin Andrews have put it all together (no assembly's required), its ready for viewing. Its enjoyable. Its huge. Theres 36 exhibiting artists. Its great. Its not great just because theres so many participants, its great because theres so many and all of the work is great also. Bonus. I was genuinely awestruck; I feel no embarrassment in saying so because it is backed by truth, even though its usually the social norm to be distanced, detatched and, even in the most exteme circumstances of heart felt wonder, only mildly impressed regardless of your true feelings. I'm sure the fever I was suffering from when I saw the show aided the viewing experince as well.

What the curating duo have done is gathered both preliminary and finished abstract/conceptual drawings from a broad span of Melbourne artists that work in this manner. The work is form, line, space, layers, distances, and being. Its dupilicates, singularities, webs, accidents, systems, rules, coincidence, hierarchies, order, and chaos. They are ambiguous diagrams, conveying ideas (mostly) without words, relying on the power of the image. They are a dichotomy of simplicity and complexity, and in that they scream with honesty without a hint of grandiloquence. It was fantastic to see so much free work (speaking of both the prepatory drawings and the finished) of both this nature and subject matter by such a large number of artists all in the one space, side by side, not in competition, but support, support of similarity, ideas and style.

I do have some criticisms of the show, only a few though (can I even say I have a few criticsms? Especially after so much praise in the opening paragraph? Wheres my intergrity as a writer?! Pfft, as if I care, I'd rather write this article like some common, opinionated blogger than an unapproachful, magniloquent (and delusional) art critic). Upon first entering the space and seeing the overall hang from the distance of the entrance, I was a little dissappointed that everything was clinically at eye level, without a single deviation, despite the common subject matter addressing scale, space, composition and or balance. These ideas could have been taken from the work and used in planning the exhibition layout: hanging the drawings in the space in a similiar way to composition used in the images of the drawings themselves. Furthermore, I understand that the show is called Drawing Folio and thus the participating artists were requested that all works be a maximum size of A2, but i felt this rule was a little dire, especially after seeing some of the works and being left to imagine the rousing possibillities had the artist been given freedom in the kingdom of scale. These two criticsms are of little consequence though, in comparison to everything that is amazing about this show, so by no means give them any more thought than they deserve. Which is very little. Definately don't dwell on them... the criticisms that is. Instead, dwell on the work, and the exhibition as a whole, its a gift and we have John Nixon and Justin Andrews to thank for organising it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ARTICLE- "art is full of :-) at the moment"- Ace Wagstaff

"art is full of :-) at the moment"
Ace Wagstaff

Is it just me or are there less and less people attending gallery opens and art events at the moment? Its a little bit sad. I thought it might be just me or my overly imaginative paranoia assuming that as soon as I turned up to an exhition, everybody left, mainly in fear of having to socialise with me. Thats not the case though. Thats rediculous. I'm a fantastic conversationalist. Ahem. Personal social insecurities aside, I can understand why gallery attendee numbers may be down at the moment, what with all the bleak news (bush fires ravaging half the state, a colossal death toll, the country sinking into a recession and the world economy imploding), it wouldn't be very considerate if we were enjoying something as socially inessential and lavish as the arts, especially in a time that calls for us to be collectively frugal and solemn. However, I feel (notice the emphasis on the "I") the melbourne art scene has been pretty full of win at the moment. I havent been to many openings, which is hazardous in an industry like the arts, which is more like a social arena that requires individuals to see and be seen, but I have seen many shows the day after, after the wine spills from the night before have been cleaned up and all the obnoxous, heavy, hot air that was issued forth from superficial conversations the night before has dissipated, which is a much more pleasent way of doing things to a degree.

Welcome to my fave's from the last month:

At Craft Victoria on Flinders Lane, the Chicks on Speed are exhibiting in the gallery space. On second thoughts, they aren't really exhibiting, they arent really using the gallery as a plinth to show their work but more as a communial space for people to interact and engage in the creative act, keeping true to the Chicks one Speed DIY ethos. The girls are running a variety of practical workshops throughout their stay in the space and invite visitors to try their hand with some needle and thread on a massive banner collaborative banner thats covered in all manner of sewn on media varying styles of stitching any time during opening hours.

"Cock and Bull" curated by Kate Daw and Vikki McInnes at the Margaret Lawerence Gallery is all about the boys. And lies. And the lies boys tell. And its about art. Its is art. Woah. The title of the exhibition ties in nicely to the all male cast, John Beagles and Graham Ramsey (Beagles and Ramsey), Jon Campbell, Tony Garifalakis and Matthew Griffin, as well as being a reference to a fictional autobiographical novel in which most of the humour comes from exageratedly complex explanations and epic, chapter-length explanitory detours ("The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne). Beagles and Ramsey have a zillion video works playing on tables which is a feast for square eyes. Matthew Griffin's video projection in the back room is a highlight that features Griffin playing as a small handed potter, the artist as all concept and small skill, reapeating the same action to created the same object in a sisyphean loop. Jon Campbell has converted a false entrance of the gallery into a brightly coloured, circus like doorway, complete with offical looking signage above it loudly exclaiming "INSUFFICIENT FUNDING".

Dale Frank's exhibition "The Big Black Bubble" at Anna Schwartz is colour. Beautiful, big, glossy, sublime colour. The works size is awe inspiring, the shortest edge on any of the works being two metres. The largest work dominates the space at two sixty by five hundred, a mass field of black, varnish on linen, titled "Ryan Goslyn" after the movie star (from such films as the irratingly romantic "The Notebook", feel-good american high-school football and racial issues "Remember the Titans" and indie flick "Lars and the Real Girl"). The dried surfaces hide liquidy pools of varnish and oil, oozing away beneath the lush coloured gloss facade. Like I said: beautiful, big, glossy, sublime colour.

Westspace has a hatrick with Ieuan Weinman's "The third wave of Stupa building", Nicki Wynnychuk's "A flag and a flagpole" and "A life Quite Ordinary" by Charles O'Loughlin.

Weinman combines the the method of painting through layers into a method from which to create a video work. This duality of mediums, painting and video, is strengthened by exhibiting the painted image on canvas as an installation, tacking it directly to the wall, as oppsed to stretching on a timber frame, which lets it flow down and over the floorspace and also places the screen of the accompaning videowork within the canvas, each giving the other strength in the combined concept and message of "The third wave of Stupa building".

"A flag and a flagpole" divides the space with invisible borders, boundries, between four impromptu made flagpoles and flags in seperate areas of the space. Each constructed from found materials from in slash near the exhibiting site, bringing the normally superfluous collateral of the community outside and around the gallery, into the space and elevating it from common, invisible debris into a symbol, nay, a bearer of authority and power... but whose? The community inadvertedly responsible for the materials? The artist for the act of creating the idea and the object? The gallery which temporarily owns the artifacts through the act act of housing them? I foresee the answer being a much more complex one than these propositions and those greater answers probably belonging to an intellectually loftier idea relating to society, power and government. Good. It gives the work more weight than I can give it here in this article.

In "A life Quite Ordinary" O'Loughlin has timed and recorded his daily activities and who he's interacted with, then redusced that information to numbers and colours and mapped it out, exhibiting the graphs as images without keys or legends. The idea that these multicoloured lines are true recordings of what their title suggests is quite convincing even though there is no real evidence. That is perhaps my only lament with the work, is that they appear to have such mathematical exactness, and I sort of prefer a little ungrounded magic or mysticsm with my science.

How very blessed we are to have all this fine work on display all at the one time, and the exhibitions coming up in the next few days promise to be grand: "Us Vs Them" an exhibition featuring Tully Moore and Taree Mkenzie at TCB Gallery, "Drawing Folio" group show curated by John Nixon and Justin Andrews at BlockProjects and, the upcoming "Hamstrung: Creativity Within Constraints" at Platform curated by Anusha Kenny. Yep. Melbourne is rockin socks aye tee em. Now I should really go as my 'cold-and-flu-day-and-night-relief' nighttime tablets are kicking in and wakefulness is fading. Yours Sincerely, Ace.