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.

Monday, March 21, 2011

REVIEW: The Lucky Country- William Mackinnon

As a contemporary painter, Mackinnon has placed what he saw within his painting framework and with the employment of multiple mediums used in a variety of ways; concerns regarding the future conservation of the work have been boldly disbanded in favour of the materials having conceptual value.

William Mackinnon, Kintore ii (Nataa Nungurayi), 2010, acrylic and enamel on linen, 99 x 100cm

Close examination of the artworks surface reveals clever meta-material usage: thick, vertical, blocks of colour are actually strips of fluoro painters tape adhered to the canvas amongst the layers of paint and the red, dusty ground has been painted with ochre from the earth, a natural pigment used for traditional paintings by indigenous people of the area.

William Mackinnon, Happy and sad (Johnny and Walangkura), 2011, acrylic, oil and enamel on linen, 99 x 120 cm

There is strength in Mackinnons work in his ability to flex and adjust his style into a custom, malleable mould for his subject matter to sit within rather than altering reality to fit his style. Unlike Fred Williams whom captured the literal landscape, Mackinnon boldly aims to depict the psychic and social landscapes as well as the physical country and environment of the Kimberley.

REVIEW: House Me Within a Geometric Quality- Platform

‘House Me Within a Geometric Quality’ is a group exhibition curated by Patrice Sharkey at Platform featuring Liang Luscombe, Antonia Sellback, Esther Stewart, and Masato Takasaka.

This exhibition is a real credit to Sharkey’s casting as a curator, especially for calling Takasaka on board. Not only does Takasaka have an art-boner for edges and corners in his own work but his contribution for ‘HMWaGQ’ has been to bring together the work of almost 40 more artists from the ‘Everything Always All Ready-Made Wannabe Studio Masatotectures Museum of Found Refractions 1994-2011’, or in other words: it’s Takasaka’s own personal stash, a collection of work with ‘geometric qualities’ that Takasaka has gathered together from other artists since 1994.

With this mass of work Takasaka has transformed the rectangular Platform window boxes into wonder chambers built into the wall, each one a sonnet, or a hidden cave wall shrine, dedicated to the glory of the holy trinity, 'colour, shape and form', visually sung by a chorus of artists.

With photography used in advertising and hours spent screen gazing online, we are bombarded by images that contain clearly recognisable subject matter, and with the recent addition of 3-D technology to personal video and visual-based electronics, the representational just got a little more real. Colour, shape and form may be the building blocks that form the images we see but they are rarely celebrated in their own right.

‘House Me Within a Geometric Quality’ puts colour, shape and form at the fore and focuses on them as the subject matter as opposed to them being secondary, as components of an image that is representational of the real as they so commonly are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

REVIEW: Goblin- Grant Nimmo and Adam John Cullen

After seeing Grant Nimmo and Adam John Cullen’s ‘Goblin’ at TCB and realising the work was based on fluke similarities and meaning born from the unplanned meeting of phenomena/forces/objects/bodies/thoughts/etcetera I decided to google the main idea of everything being connected, followed by a ‘man’ for good measure, because, like, that’s the way that clichéd and stereotyped hippies who believe in such concepts talk, man.

Goblin (exhibition view)

The very first result from searching ‘everything’s connected, man’ was an article titled with virtually the same phrase from a sustainability site (2), and as with everything on the internet, the main protagonists are cats (coincidence?).

In the 1950’s Borneo was plagued by malaria, so they called up the friendly folks at World Health Organisation who recommended they cover the island with DDT. Sure enough all the mosquitoes carrying and spreading the malaria died but so did all the other insects, including the wasps which’d usually eat the caterpillars that’d consumed the thatched roofs of the locals.

All the lizards that lived on the island dosed up fairly highly on the DDT as well, which caused the cats that, ate the poisoned lizards to die. With the cats out of the way the rats saw their chance to rise up, overpopulate and begin spreading septicemic plague. Goodbye malaria, hello plague.

The World Health Organisation decided the cure to Borneo’s septicemic plague being spread by rats by using the Royal Air Force to parachute live cats in with ‘Operation: Cat Drop’. Oddly enough, despite happening over nine thousand years before the beginning of the interwebz, the very true tale mirrors the fictional, and lulzworthy (2), worlds that exist in lolcat image macros (parashoot kat: i kan haz plague ratz naow?).

‘Goblin’ encompasses all of these ideals: death, humour, cuddly animals, bright colours, chance juxtaposition and visual puns. The work has been created with the recognition that the chaos governing much of fate can often be interpreted in multiple ways, sometimes with acerbic irreverent humor that could see even the most stoic soul turn maudlin: the bones of the dead are decorated with thick coats of desecrating spray paint, corpses are hung on fences in positions to mimic a cheerful or celebratory high-five with plush children's toys and collaboration between Nimmo and Cullen means organising images of what was once pornography alongside photographs of endangered species and popular 1980's action film icons.

Goblin tears up conventional associations until April 2nd at TCB gallery.


(2) Lulz: Beginning as a plural variant of ‘lol’, ‘Lulz’ was originally an exclamation but is now often just used as a noun meaning interesting or funny internet content- Encyclopedia Dramatica

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

art crush- Matte Stephens

Matte Stephens is a genuine cool cat. He lives and breathes the aesthetics of an era past. His practice isn't just a facsimile of prior culture, but a continuation. His home is adorned with classically cool designed furniture: an Eames folding table, Knoll Saarinen tulip chairs, and a Nelson ceramic clock, that are all living out the rest of their days contentedly in functional usage instead of being stored or on display. Stephens doesn’t just talk the talk or walk the walk: he lives the life.

Matt Stephens, 'Adventurer's Club', Gouache on Panel

Matte Stephens will be exhibiting in Sydney and Perth at Outre Gallery in March and I’m sure he’ll find our Australia to be an exuberant cornucopia of inspiring architecture, design and culture.

Our Australian culture is an absurd symbiotic mash-up of differing traditions because of a blend of multicultural influences and our cities are strange combinations of architectural styles and opposing theories of design all coexisting: where else in the world can you walk a city block and stroll past buildings dressed in Art Deco, Modernist, Nouveau, Baroque whilst passing a woman in a fluorescent Indian sari, a business man busy on his laptop at a bus stop donning vintage Reebok pump hi-tops and a troupe of eccentrically clothed Asian girls that look like they’ve teleported in from Harajuku milling at a Belgian waffle stand?

Matte Stephens, 'Patrons were surprised to find a giant snail in the main gallery of the National Arts Club', Gouache on Panel

This kind of reality constructed from multiple juxtapositions, features heavily in Matte Stephens work: a giant snail surprises visitors at the National Arts Club and a Cat named Irving who has a penchant for bowties and monocles contemplates the nature of human consciousness which manifests as multicoloured triangular hive-forms.

Matte Stephens, 'Irving ponders the nature of consciousness', Gouache on Panel

I’d love to be captured and mythologised in a Stephens pastel gouache noir portrait: my existence reduced to soft-coloured bliss whilst featuring my own eccentricities and personality quirks.

Stephens work isn’t ‘nostalgia’ based, its ‘now-stalgia’.


Matte Stephens at Outre:

Matte Stephens:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Best On The Net

So there I was trawlling through a gazillion lousy art review websites at night and I came across this gem:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

art crush- Roseline Rannoch

REVIEW: Crystals of the Colossus- Shida

Shida drops a new mythology in his painted works. A mythology of men as their own demons, warriors, made in the image of their gods. His exhibition ‘Crystals of the Colossus’ at Until Never read like one the the original Grimm Brothers Fairytales: characters with beautiful facades that mask a faintly visible grotesqueness. Their flesh is brightly coloured, evoking a sense of nymph-like magic and goodwill, yet their faces bare smiles of triangular sharpened teeth and eyes that glow maniacally.

These protagonists and antagonists, each a glossy illuminated yin or yang, appear both ancient and futuristic. Their large skulls and elvish ears are equal parts science fiction and medieval fantasy. Shidas subjects athletic bodies are gracefully posed, articulating joints and often simulating movement.

Some images appear to be direct references to very specific folklore, such as St George and the Dragon (above),

whilst within other paintings Shidas characters seem to reflect the poses and atmosphere of works from history’s greatest artists, such as Picassos Young Ladies of Avignon crossed with the composition of a playboy bunny pillow fight (above) which ends up being an uncomfortable flaunting of female nakedness because of its visual distance from realism.

Check out Shidas work from Crystals of the Colossus at: