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.