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in the galleries

G McElman_080417_6518_A L13 L16 E R Y7

after quite a mammoth couple of months focusing on uni, the feasibility study, this show and this one, i've not had a lot of time to be anything except artistically self-absorbed. thanks for putting up with it - i appreciate it.

going to SCAPE reminded me how much i love seeing other people's work too, so on saturday my friend miss n and i schlepped over to the galleries in richmond. i had been putting off going because, well, it's a bit of a psychological distance between the hoods that i hang out in on the north side, and richmond. now that i've done it - barrier no more there is (as yoda would say).

it was fantastic!

in fact albert st, where most of the good galleries are, reminded me SO much of vyner st in hackney, it was quite scary - i even got a bit teary at one stage. anyway, here's a bit of a review of the shows we saw/places we went.

and a note to artists, when you go to commercial galleries, go with a curator/writer/anyone apart from another artist - it's amazing the different reception you get!

Sam Jinks
Karen Woodbury

My friend has been helping Sam on his latest show and I was all set and ready to go to the opening, when i got mega sick and was in a land of delirium. i'm so glad that i got to see the show, because it's amazing. Jinks is part of the hyper-real silicon/fiberglass sculpture crew = a lá Ron Mueck (whose really successful show at McClelland I saw a few weeks ago) and Patricia Piccinini. The works out for this show included 2 full-length but half-scale nude human-ish works of a middle-aged woman and a young-ish male (with a fox's head). The other works were faces, but cut in the shape of masks: full-detail of hair, skin, tattoos for some, saliva for others, in the shape of kabuki masks.
the thing i find interesting about works of this nature is that fascination is such a strong aspect of the experience. and in some way, this kind of hyper-real figurative representation almost serves an educational purpose, now that the experience of others' (naked) bodies is no long part of a platonic/social ritual, at least in the west. in fact, our bodies have become entirely private and only really in the domain of the erotic/intimate or out there for spectacle. it was quite intriguing to look at an older woman's body and analyse it, in the way a child might - looking at how her toenails compare to mine; how her breasts sag in a way that mine are bound to soon enough and compare hairy legs and bikini line. not often i can say that's what i did on a saturday afternoon.

Mark Kimber
John Buckley

Mark Kimber's previous work that i had seen many years ago in sydney (maybe at ACP?) featured beautifully lit figurines that were reminiscent of dramatic film stills. this work features large photos of empty, neon, urban landscapes - carparks, industrial sites, highway verges, lit with fluorescent or neon glow.
My taste has obviously changed in the last 5 years 'cos i know that i previously would have found these works amazing and exciting. But my photography major has been mostly left behind, so i found them a bit, well, uninteresting. i hate that - i really wanted to like them, based on his earlier work. like when the second bloc party album came out. *sigh*.

Emily Ferretti
Sophie Gannon

It's funny how there's always talk of the death of painting, but you wouldn't know that from all the painting I see in commercial galleries time after time.

Emily's work was quite nice - so soft and gentle, quite thinly painted. She is to objects what Cherry Hood is to portraits - from the Luc Tuymans school of painting. It was a good show, loads of works sold and everyone must be quite excited.
but at the same time, nothing that I went absolutely ga-ga about. Except maybe the beautiful Dreamy Tyre Swing - that was really lovely and something that I could have on a wall somewhere.

Nicola Chatham
Anita Treverso

Walking past the gallery, I wasn't initially all that fussed about the painting in the gallery window - my first impression was lots of golden washes. Thankfully I headed into the gallery nonetheless, because the show in the back room by Nicola Chatham was surprisingly interesting. The paintings weren't especially WOW!!!, but were simple, well-painted and beautifully grouped. Lots of them reminded me of Gerhard Richter in the phase between his photo-realism and the squeegee paintings - soft and slightly smudgy images of suburban/country life, but the colours were nice and fresh. While they looked ace in the gallery, i could also imagine them in a domestic environment too. which i don't often think about (mostly because I don't really have a 'domestic environment' and i loathe the idea of choosing art vs sofa), but it was quite obvious that you could take one of these home. perhaps just as much a sign of good gallery management as good art. [oh dear, let's not start the debate about good art without a good gallery]

Maree Alexander
Jenny Port

Both miss n and I loved this show - she more than i, but only slightly. only enough so that I was trying to convince her to actually buy a work, without success.
Maree's work reminded us both of the Fischli & Weiss 80 Objects which we had seen at the Sydney Biennale, as well as a little bit of Jake and Dinos Chapman (mostly in the lews posing kind of way). These objects, guilty by association, were posed in saucy but hilarious 'poses' in order to maximise that anthropomorphic tendency in us all. The tableaus were really beautiful and the photographs nicely mounted too (block mounted on a lovely white-coated board). I'm glad we got to see the show - Saturday was the last day - but keep an eye out for miss alexander. I expect that we'll see more of her work soon.

Jolt and the Dark Luminance Project

After all the more traditional works we had seen that day, shifted was like a breath of fresh air. in fact, as we walked into the gallery, miss n and i cooed and aaghed so much that the lovely man in the gallery noted that we must like the show. did we what! the first darkened gallery was filled with silicon/wax cast epithelia - white fingerprints in swarms, like nesting cockroaches almost. except they looked beautiful. and they spread throughout the other 2 galleries - turning up on microphone stands, or in piles around audio cables. gallery 2 featured an installation of a performance space - chairs and microphones, speakers - both on stands and hanging form the ceiling and a camera stream projected on to the wall. in fact, at some stages you could be both filmed/projected and silhouetted onto the wall. i kind of liked the resonance it had with my current work too (how self-obsessed is that!).

even though i'm sure the work, with its electronic/soundscape soundtrack, drove the gallery staff bonkers by the end of the 4 week show, it was fantastic and i look forward to seeing new work of his in the future. in fact i'm looking forward to seeing the next show at shifted.

and so that was albert st, richmond - actually a great mix of trad/new/contemporary works and i can imagine that all the galleries support and feed off each other. especially 'cos i can imagine that most people did as we do and see them all in one go

PS -
Hellraiser - Director's Cut

just as we were leaving richmond for the afternoon, we popped into hell to see what was on (geez, that'll never get old) and got to see the coolest installation by the directors jordan marani and jess johnson: hellraiser. it was a mashup of stuff, but all centered around this idea of the black hole and the icky, gooeyness of life - it was fantastic. there were lots of bright colours and random objects, which i don't usually like, but it was really well set out and was a whole experience, which made it amazing. there tall plinths with big, black blobs of expanding foam, a galaxy of tape-ball planets, black holes made of painted wood, speakers and other nameless things painted in black, all with a soundtrack of evil, cartoon character, squelchy cackle. and then, just as we were leaving, jordan showed us the smoke machine and theramin - the smoke machine suddenly made it into an awesome b-grade english sci-fi set (a la red dwarf and/or doctor who) and the theramin - well, we were like kids in a sweet store.

all in all, it was a super fun day and gave me the much-needed pep i had been craving.

image credits, top to bottom:
Sam Jinks, Untitled, 2008 from the Karen Woodbury website
Mark Kimber, Southbound, 2008 from the John Buckley website
Emily Ferretti, Silver Steeple, 2008 from the Sophie Gannon website
Nicola Chatham, funny how i felt so anxious and it was nothing, 2008 from the Anita Traverso website
Maree Alexander, Closed Doors, 2008 from the Jenny Port website
Jolt (James Hullick), Wigga, 2008 from the Shifted website
Jordan Marani and Jess Johnson, Space balls, 2008 from the Hell Gallery blog

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At 05 November, 2008 00:27, Blogger mayhem said...

hooray! I loved this post -it gave me lots of vicarious joy and I feel a lot less homesick.....

At 05 November, 2008 02:07, Blogger lauren said...

oh mayhem! i'm sorry that you've been feeling so homesick - that melbourne went from grey to brown so quickly and that we all wear black (i always wondered why i used to always stand out with my all-black-ness in sydney). but i'm glad that a little post about some pretty good shows made you feel a little less so. next time i do a gallery run, i promise i'll email you and see if i can drag you along :)


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