On Thursday I attended the opening of Jock Clutterbuck’s exhibition ‘Hermeneutics’ at Australian Galleries. A very hot Melbourne night but the gallery air-conditioning coped with the crowd that packed the space. Looking across the road I noticed that Australian Galleries are expanding with a “stock room” that will soon be open to the public.
‘Hermeneutics’ is an exhibition of of Clutterbuck’s recent small sculpture and drawings; currently there is also an exhibition on at the Castlemaine Art Gallery & Historical Museum of Clutterbuck’s sculpture and drawings 1990-2008. It is an efficient marketing strategy to capitalize on the interest generated from a public gallery retrospective.
Clutterbuck is best known for his patinated cast bronze sculptures of abstract geometric forms. Clutterbuck’s sculptures rise up from a recognizable plinth. On the plinth contained within a perimeter is a form. The perimeter of the sculpture, the cartouche is a band that frames and constrains a defined form. In some sculptures the band twists and loops or steps; in others it is a simple circumference.
There are orientalist references in the titles of the sculptures from dervishes and the Surat Luqman from the Qur’an, as Clutterbuck makes a nod to the Islamic influence on geometric art. Other sculptures are named after exotic cities like Araxa, Qom, Qotur and Zamas.
Clutterbuck’s drawings are a further means of exploring those same forms and, in marketing terms, a more affordable defusion range. Clutterbuck is not drawing copies of his sculptures but drawing on the same forms and orders. His recent ‘stencil drawings’ are far richer than his earlier pastel drawings. The colours and the use of gold and silver leaf make these drawings richer in materials alone. These rich materials are in keeping with their drawings orientalist titles.
At the Thursday night opening the marketing strategies were working, even in these very uncertain economic times, and the red sales dots were going up.