Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Outre is contemporary cool. Cool for cats.

"Outre is contemporary cool. Cool for cats."

The Outres collection of prints and artifacts is the epitome of cool. It's difficult not to biblically covet every single image and object in their commercial collection: cooler than frost on an Eskimos’ ice-cream and hotter than a chili cookout on the surface of the sun. They are the dealers of contemporary pop and we are the addicts of slick aesthetics.

Derek Yanigers beat generation inspired paintings on wood panels. Using the wood grain as a warm background each work uses a minimal colour scheme and painted super flat, which only adds to the crisp cool taste of the work. He must have a secret stash of sweat from the endless finger-clicking that ‘niks would have bopped along to in the ‘60’s whilst listening to avant-garde minimalist jazz, ‘cause I cant think of any other inducible substance that’d transport ones mind to a realm as hip as images he produces,

‘Incarnation’ by Mark Ryden was a showstopper at Melbourne Art 2010, perhaps made popular in part by a Youtube timelapse video showing the artist working on the painting, but even without knowing of the creative process, theres no denying Ryden credit as a master of his craft when face to face with the finished image. Incarnations flesh is porcelain and sickly pure, her gown is lush, fatty protein filled flesh. Even a middle-aged accountant whose last contact with any kind of academic arts training was over 20 years ago in the form of ‘Arts and Craft’ classes during high school was able articulate the nauseating juxtaposition of the pale, white figure and her fleshy, bloody gown.

There was nothing but love-love-love at the outré stand/stall/booth during Art Melbourne 2010 and with the application of liquor people’s nerves, eyes and souls were satisfied. There was a communal state of bliss generated by the amount of people interested in the same thing being in the same place all together. One of the most common actions by the public was ‘pointing and smiling’. There was some great original works as well: hand painted bongos by Yaniger, super-superbly crafted paper silhouettes by Beci Orpin, a gorgeous orange clucker by the king’o’kool 50’s styling SHAG (Josh Agyle) and Angelique Houtkamp with her tattoo styled tattooed ladies.

The collaborative team Friends with You received a fair share of attention with their minimal anthropomorphized works. Their works are celebrations of colour and shape, similar to the minimalist colourfield paintings except given cute oval eyes and smiles, making them so much friendlier, particularly Plasma Eyes and Friendship Flag. It’s this melding of a homage to a serious part of art history with the fun child-like instinct of personifying everything with a smiley-face that is both cheekily amusingly clever , and . A war directed by the FwY would be a colourful onslaught of bright chaos, water balloons and waterpistols filled with paint would be standard issue, as opposed to rifles and grenades.

Thankyou Outre for scouring the earth
(earth = pop culture magazines)
and gathering together some of the coolest looking prints this side of the afterlife.


Monday, April 26, 2010

You’ll be the Death of Me: Bridie Lunnney and Meredith Turnbull

"You’ll be the Death of Me"
Bridie Lunney and Meredith Turnbull

In the Degreaves St subway, (commonly known as the Flinders Street Station subway for those of us who have trouble remembering the multitude of alleys and laneways in Melbourne) exists the Platform exhibition space. The Platform space is a series of window boxes set into the wall of the underground thorough fare, an expressway for commuters exiting and entering the train station. Ordinarily these window boxes contain the artworks that are being exhibited (objects, images), so that passers-by, if they have enough time to throw a passing glance during their busy commute, may be visually appeased by some artifact of some aesthetic value, made by one of the many artists that belong to the plague that is choking or city with creativity and culture.

Bridie Lunney and Meredith Turnbull have proposed something a little more bold: a concept (heaven forbid, I can already see our major selling newspaper, the rag newssheet for the common man, crying out that artists are gobbling up our tax dollars with their superfluous existence and needless, functionless arts practices). As opposed to a constructed object or image, like a sculpture or a painting, what they have done is physically change the space: the duo have painted a coat of mid-grey onto the outside of the glass, so that the window boxes now appear to just be flat grey panels exhibited on the wall, as opposed to three dimensional enclosures within the wall.

The grey shares multiple commonalities: it reflects Melbourne’s drear weather, the cities mass of concrete and bluestone, and even the average commuter, the common people, anonymous in the peak hour, grey-men. It almost appears to be the same colour used by city councils to buff (paint over) graffitied walls, which in a way is exactly what they have done; they’ve buffed out, or over, erased a physical three dimensional space used for exhibiting art. Ordinarily this action would mean that they’ve erased an opportunity to display.

What Lunney and Turnbull have done is provided a space for people to exhibit their own work or words by encouraging the public that pass through the area to graffiti the painted glass by scratching the paint off, thus revealing the negative space, both pictorially and literally, because as the paint is scratched off in letters and words or shapes, a peephole is created to look into the empty space of the unused window box behind the grey façade.

The irony is that usually audience participation and interaction is seen as a positive force of collaborative creativity, yet the more the public create, the more they destroy the result of the initial action and efforts of the artists to facilitate such an opportunity. The line between the creative act and the destructive act disintegrates when we realize that the only action a public participant can execute without destroying anymore of the artists original glass painting, would be to refurbish, or repaint the glass as well, essentially an act of graffiti because it would destroy what others have done, yet it would also adhere to the artists initial intentions.

The works title, “You’ll be the Death of Me”, is a great summary of this creative-destructive dichotomy and a chance for the work to speak to the Audience, the participators, not in condemnation but merely alert them to the truth of the relationship that they have together.

A work that destroys itself is perfect in this push and produce world. If you’re going to bring anything new into the world, it should be this: action.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Alain Declercq, Tony Garifalakis, Joaquin Segura, Jeanne Susplugas, Ewoud Van Rijn
Margaret Lawrence Gallery

Omega: two sides to every story

Fight the power[1], fight for your right to party[2], stand up for your rights[3], because this is it, this is ground zero[4]. You can’t trust anyone, not your government, megalomaniacal corporate companies with political sway and all important sponsor money; they’re all out to get you. The people that “Serve and Protect” you and your country are the same idealist fanatics that were extremist right/left wing nutters patriotic well intentioned morally upright members of society that fell into proudly took an oath to enter into a militaristic institutions the armed forces because they are simple, easily led and lack any self direction they believe in the ideals of their country and the just causes it stands for and represents.

One man’s passion is another man’s parody.

Its only when things get serious that we’re able to see how much of a joke they are that we must take action. The UN and EU are little more than selfishly, violent, provincial, marauding motorcycle gangs and frauds. Governments are whores to capitalist payouts, built on business that promotes the gluttony of excess and instant gratification and inducing a state of constant paranoia and fear are just and righteous pillars of global peace and order.

Terrorism is a means to an end is a nice excuse for governments to gain the power totalitarian police state whilst maintaining the illusion of an independent, free, democratic nation terrible blight which more often than not affects the innocent of the perpetrators own country rather than those that they’re opposed to.

The end is nigh. Only chaos is real[5]. It will be alright[6].

It’s almost too easy to poke fun at authority, to undermine the current order of society and politics. With great power comes great responsibility comes great risk and great opportunity to inadvertently (perhaps inevitably) fuck everything up. The good guys are the bad guys are the good guys…

[1] Public Enemy, “Fight the power”, Fear of a Black Planet, 1989
[2] Beastie Boys, “Fight for your right to party”, Licensed to Ill [Album], 1986
[3] Bob Marley, “Get up, Stand up”, Burnin [Album], 1973
[4] Chuck Palahnuik, “Fight Club”, 1996
[5] Ewoud Van Rijn, “Only Chaos is Real” [acrylics ink on paper, 220 x 150 cm], 2006
[6] Ewoud Van Rijn, “Alright” [acrylic paper, 250 x 170], 2009

Friday, April 23, 2010

PlaneStars: Ross Coulters 'Prelude'

"PlaneStars: Ross Coulters 'Prelude'"

Large seemingly scientific white structural models hang from the ceiling, a video work of a melting aeroplane made out of ice flies through an unidentifiable sky, and a concrete totem sits in the centre of the exhibition like an anchor, especially when compared to the apparently intricate paper models and projected video work. These three components create the trinity that was Ross Coulters ‘Prelude’ Seventh gallery. Each portion, a different medium, size, but all virtually crying out a in chorused unison of a common ideal and all linked in their usage of one form: the humble paper plane.

The paper plane is perhaps one of the simplest most popularly known forms of paper folding that also has a function: flight.[1] This function is removed from the hundreds of actual folded paper planes in the exhibition though, instead, they’ve been taped together, all noses pointing inward, in spherical hives or cocoons of paper planes, all cluster-fucking in groups of origami orgies. Plane stars. There’s a punk, DIY immediacy of the sculptural forms suggested construction that attests to the crass interpretation of their gathering. Even their ability to be used, thrown, folded or unfolded (deconstructed/destroyed) is negated by their proximity of closeness to each other.

There seems two groups of planes within each cluster: one group seems to all be pushing towards the center with equal force to every other, and the others are pushing away from the center, heading out at every angle, all aiming for the same indiscriminate point in three dimensional space, simultaneous black hole implosion and explosion of paper planes. Their collective honing in, or racing away from this one point is suicidal for the individual as they become functionless, all simultaneously denying each other the non-existent Iliad they’re aiming for, making each ones effort a negation of anothers effort.[2]

The paper plane motif is repeated in the video work, except the paper plane in the video is made entirely of ice. Impossibly, it flies across a sky-scape, melting continuously, the further it flies, the less it exists. It’s a bittersweet existential prank bequeathed on/to it by its creator. To carry out its natural function, to fly, leads to its inevitable slow melting destruction.

Ice plane exists in a state of perpetual forward motion and continual demise. There’s no Sisyphean[3] commute, it’s all one way, but to the same ends. Smooth sailing in unknown skies, ice-planes location on this functionless flight is never revealed, all sky looks the same, with no markers, landmarks, no progress can be made or measured. Existence and actions are purposeless, it’s just a journey, details are superfluous and passed fleetingly.

Surrounded by the exploding/imploding plane stars is a concrete totem: an abstract pillar form with cubic sections, a mold. It is not a plane, but in the top most section are two planes flying into each side of it, their noses caught midflight, trapped in the stone. Its materiality is a stark contrast to the planes, weighted, hard, serious. The planes have not crashed into the stone because crashing implies an event of a temporary nature, whilst the union of planes and cement looks frozen, a moment in time caught and held.

Amusement. Boredom. Pranks. These are the states that usually precede a paper planes creation. They’re simple, cheap, functional, and inherently temporary and not the most robust construction. Coulter knows this, each work parodies it, or more correctly, the parody of itself, its own being is bought to the fore, and we realize “it’s a joke about a joke, like a joke trying to make another joke laugh”[4]

[1] Charlton Heston, “Planet of the Apes”, 1968

[2] Homer, “Odyssey”

[3] Albert Camus, “Myth of Sisyphus”, 1942

[4] Modest Mouse, “Steam Engenius”, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank [Album], 2005-2006