Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

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

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.

REVIEW: Awaiting the Night to Fall at Until Never

Why do fairy tales exist? Why do we tell stories now? To lie, to intrigue, to impress and amaze or to simply to entertain with a well exercised imagination. Pascale Mira Tschäni and Michael Husmann Tschäni are story tellers, on the whole their works present a world not so dissimilar to our own in appearance, so that the viewer has a way in to their fabrication, but as familiarity within the story builds it becomes clear that the details are otherworldly visions.

This neuvo- visual fairytale habitat that their protagonists is spread out across multiple mediums: painting, comics, illustration, installation, film, performance and even garments, all of which act as portals for the viewer. These multiple modes of storytelling that are represented in a number of different mediums give each other strength by unifying with a similar aesthetic and colour schemes.

The duo’s paintings are a tribute to the success of their collaborative efforts as a team and to ability to seamlessly mix differing icon and imagery during construction to arrive at a highly finished and balanced work.

Their Individual mastery of the medium is equally impressive as they combine the use of enamel, oil paint, water colour, crayon, glitter and aerosol in each work to arrive at a holistic finish which could have at any stage of the works practical development quite easily have become an ugly stew of contrasting and opposing mixed media. This is especially noteworthy as the pair work by painting backwards on sheets of clear acrylic.

The Husmann/Tschäni mythos is the conceptual bloodline that runs under the surface of all of their work, whether it’s a short comic or a structural installation dominating a galleries’ floor space. The world that is created within any of their works is emulated and expanded upon within every other work. It’s an imagined word of forests in which nature is an equal, children dig up treasure chests in the snow and psychic auras are visible as bright glowing fields. A world in which dreams are realised with stories.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

ARTICLE: Art Crushes are real.

Turns out that Art Crushes are real, or more correctly, the enjoyment from looking at art that you like can raise the blood flow to the brain by 10%, the same amount as if you were to adoringly behold a loved one.

The study comes from University College London with the chair of neuroaesthetics at the helm. Full details here:

It would be interesting to find out the the results of other stimuli, such as well photographed food (which has come to be known as 'food porn' thanks to our gastrocentric society), or actual porn, or even photgraphs of famly members and perhaps celebrities.

Makes the term 'art boner' seem that much more justified. Speaking of art boners, heres an Art Crush: Tauba Auerbach.

Monday, May 9, 2011

ARTICLE: Graffiti still has political bite, and it wants freedom for Ai Weiwei

Graffiti has been riding (and graffing) the glamorous coat-tails of commercial street culture with artists being commissioned to design and provide graphics for must have sneakers, tees, MP3 players, collectible toys and prints for rock star sums of money and world wide distribution.

Graffiti deserves the kudos, its come a long way: out from the unanimous shunned disapproval for its illegality and into the limelight by way of the interviews and book deals of fame, not to mention the fortune provided by rich enthusiastic collectors and aforementioned corporations looking for new designs to shlap on their shlocky everyman products for the grand continuation of maintaining consumerist states.

Its seems as though that grafitti has been domesticated, and is more of a house pet than the predator it once was, a viewpoint I've mentioned before (, but recently in China there has been a spate of political graffiti calling for the release of Ai Weiwei. It seems it must be annoying the right people in power because activists are being arrested for stenciling.

Ai Weiwei was arrested on April 3 for unexplained 'economic crimes'. The world not only noticed because of Ai Weiwei's status on the international arts platform, but also because at the time he had a major work on display, 'Sunflower Seeds', at the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in the UK as a part of the The Unilever Series.

His arrest has sparked a petition headed by the directors of the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate. I personally urge everyone to sign it:

WORK: Infinity Falls

This work titled Infinity Falls was a simple idea: create a infinite fountain that operated both in form and concept. The materials were those that were the cheapest and most accessible; you cannot dress up the infinite.

Infinity Falls was made by Sam George and Ace Wagstaff for the exhibition Above The Fog at Urban Plot Gallery, curated by Anusha Kenny.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

REVIEW: Rock Solid- Pieces of Eight

Pieces of Eight describes itself as a contemporary jewellery and artist made object store. Contemporary jewellery means that there is no Tiffany here, just a Melanie, Melanie Katsalidis who is the creative captain at the helm of Pieces of Eight and she’s boldly sailing into 2011 with a store hosted exhibition: Rock Solid. Katsalidis has called on Meredith Turnbull to curate a band of artists for Rock Solid who include: Dan Bell, James Deutsher, Anna Ephraim, Bianca Hester, Christopher L G Hill, Leah Jackson, Susan Jacobs, Madeline Kidd, Dylan Martorell, Rob McHaffie and Masato Takasaka.

Each artist has delved into their practice and reproduced their ideas and forms at a wearable scale. One of the best examples of this is Christopher LG Hill’s reinvention of a material he uses quite often, plastic bags, being reformed into bracelets. The finished product is a nod to a material that he utilises in his own arts practice, but not a replication of his usual treatment of the material. Pieces of Eight also recognised Hill’s astute connection with his materials and have provided a blog post on the exploration of his connection to the matter:

Takasaka has also contributed to the exhibition by constructing an installation of his patented forms of angular colored card, paper and tape in the Pieces of Eight storefront windows above in and around the entrance.

This exhibition is an affirming salute to the artists involved and their ability to adapt and construct their ideas in new ways and forms. Respect to Kasalidis and Turnbull for also hosting floor talks and uploading the talks ( ) to Pieces of Eights blog, this action, and their effort, is very much appreciated and helps add another, more informative layer to the project and exhibition. Thank you Pieces of Eight for your generosity.

Not only is Rock Solid a strong exhibition thanks to critical curation and the artists own intimate connections with their practices but also because of the wealth of support material and documentation available online. Kudos are much deserved.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ARTICLE: Duchamp, Nietzsche and the Spectacle of the Live Creative Act.

SDM crew are painting a mural for the NGV Studio space in the Atrium of Federation Square. It’s a public endeavour: 20 metres of spray paint fuelled graffiti tagging in a public area with a lot of foot traffic on the weekend. In this instance, the street art is legal and condoned by a state institution and everyone is noticing.

The creative, and often illegal act, is made public and is housed safely behind an extensive glass wall, protected like a curio in a cabinet and guarded from would be vandals. The NGV Studio space is at one of the entrances to the Atrium and the public walking past are restaurant and bar goers, families with young children from the NGV Kids Corner, Gallery hoppers and attendees to events for both the L’Oreal Fashion week and Multicultural Arts Victoria which are also being hosted on Federation Square; a mass of the general public are being made privy to a usually secret practice that would ordinarily be carried out under under the dark cover of night and, by our current laws, illegally.

The public creative act is intriguing to the general public and they come forward to comment on the skill and technique of the artists as it occurs live in front of them. The public witness images and colours coming forward out of the void of a blank wall. The artists purposeful actions and deft movements become a form of calligraphic magic, an aesthetic alchemy and the audience in turn turns the creative act into a performative one. (1)

The creative act also becomes one of unintentional performance, especially in such a public space. A crowd grows and they admire a silent visual song with their eyes, completely unknown to the performers who have their backs to the viewing public as they work, however their unseeing 2D creation, no longer an abyss, stares back. (2)

The SDM crew are subtly educating the viewer about graffiti history by a painting all the pieces with a set colour scheme in their own individual styles, a technique utilised by the first crews in New York during the modern birth of graffiti in the 1970’s so that allegiances could be identified regardless of where, geographically in the city, a piece was sprayed. The traditional uniformity is a nod to the both the American and Australian grandfathers of aerosol.

For many members of the public, graffiti is associated with illegal vandalism, so for those rubbernecking as they walk by, there is an interest in the illegal and suggested excitement and danger that is implied within graffiti culture. Within the gallery context however, all elements of danger are removed: OHS is adhered to, a guard sits watch over the graffiti artists and protects them as gallery contractors while they work, there isn’t even the risk or aerosol or paint fume inhalation thanks to multiple industrial exhaust fans. The dichotomies and contradictions of a traditional subversive art form within the framework of the state gallery are evident, and I think that this fact is half of the appeal. I can’t decide out if this is a house pet posing as a predator or vice versa. (3)

In many ways this is also the performance of postmodernity sandwiching historically high and low brow art forms together and as Debord predicted, like any spectacle, the public are eating it up. (4)

(1) “All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” –Marcel Duchamp

(2) “If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you. - Friedrich Nietzsche.

(3) "Forget her, she's a predator posing as a house pet." - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club’.

(4) The Society of the Spectacle (La Société du spectacle), Guy Debord, 1967

Note: no apologies for the appalling lack of order among the citations and thankyou to David Hurlston for the conversation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

REVIEW: The Sun Room- Viv Miller

Light is crucial to our existence, in many ways. Its metaphorical associations encourage higher evolved inquisitive thinking and moralistic behaviour, its warmth is integral to our biological existence, it enables sight and vision. The sun which our dear planet revolves around is the sole source and deliverer of our planets life giving and vision enabling light.

In the 17th Century the nature of light was debated fiercely by Christiaan Huygens and Isaac Newton; Newton believed that light consisted of particles and Huygens believed that light consisted of waves. Eveventually this was nullified with the introduction of a new theory: wave-particle duality.

Huygens and Newtons initial argument spawned centuries of research and work conducted by physicists, including Einstein, that has helped form the current scientific theory that all particles, not just light, also have a wave nature, and vice versa.

Viv Millers recent paintings hone in on the dual wave-particle phenomena of light. The exhibition is aptly named ‘The Sun Room’ and each work within contains a blazing re-envisioning of the our closest stars radiant power. Light streams from the white-hot orb in expanding serpentine tentacles of radiation and simultaneously dotted in cubic photon packets within our earthly atmosphere.

In some paintings a meagre portion of our planet is represented, the top of a barren hill or a far off oceanic horizon whilst the rest of the picture plane is dominated by the burning celestial force, whilst other works present the viewer with the impossibility of being bathed in the radiative force with an excess of energy exploding across the paintings surface.

See Viv Millers ‘The Sun Room’ before the exhibition finishes on the 2nd of April at Neon Parc.