Thursday, February 28, 2013

REVIEW: "Jamais Vu" at Anna Pappas Gallery

Last year in December Anna Pappas was announced as the new appointed president of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association, and during the Summer holiday break tackled Art Stage Singapore 2013. Two weeks later, she opened Anna Pappas Gallery's first show for the year: a stellar group exhibition with a solid, resounding theme, comprising 13 artists from Australia, the UK, Belgium, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Korea, titled "Project 13: Jamais Vu."

The better known deja vu is the phenomena in which an event or experience occurring in the present, seems to feel as though it has already occurred, as though it is a memory. However, unlike its familiarity-inducing cousin, jamais vu is basically the opposite of deja vu and is used to describe the phenomenon in which a recognisable and known experience can feel strangely foreign and unfamiliar: the known becomes the unknown.

Some of the artists in Jamais Vu have distorted the known, obscuring what would easily be recognisable, others have used filters to deceive, and some have used repetition to annihilate meaning.

Christopher L.G. Hill and Ernesto Rios take the familiar that is home, in both the domestic (Hill), and grand, world-renown architectural feats (Rios), and edit their subjects environment, both in real space and on the picture plane (respectively), in order to make their subject matter more abstracted and ill-fitting. Hill's otherwise homely detritus, become strange disconnected objects in the new spatial frame of the gallery space, and Rios selected planes of pyramids float in a misty-void, panelled forms partially clothing an unseen ghost-shell.

Claire Rae's photographic diptych and Danny Devos' video work present the laws of physics at play via the camera, both still and in motion, so that even a force as unfaltering as gravity becomes oddly dampened, rather than remaining factual and constant.

Even the oft pronounced dead art form of oil painting is used by Stephen Giblett to upscale a blurry, light saturated photo taken on a mobile phone in a night club. A real event captured digitally, and then analogously bought to life with painting, is a process which has created impenetrable layers of material translation and distance in-between the original event and the final outcome. To try and resurrect an image of the original event from the painting, would be as impossible as trying to remove and separate the eggs, milk and flour from an already baked cake.

Project 13: Jamais Vu acknowledges that art, as a collective group of signifier's,  will never attain the status of what they represent, they will never be real, and presents a selection of artworks that can be read as a  collection of meta-signifier's that acknowledge their strange unnerving place between the known and the unknown, between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

Project 13: Jamais Vu is on at Anna Pappas until Saturday 2nd March. See for details.