I first saw Joel Gailer’s art when he established Brunswick Arts in 2004. I didn’t think much of it at the time; back then he appeared to be searching for a direction, his own voice, for a style of image making that was his signature. Now he has found it in one of the most traditional of art forms – printing.
Joel Gailer’s style is conceptual, minimal and pushes on the boundaries of printmaking. Gailer isn’t attacking the boundaries of printing; he is not trying to escape the limits of printing. Gailer is pressing hard up against the boundary to get a good print of its relief; like one of his prints where 2 wooden beams print by pressing the sticky ink onto the heavy paper that the beams hold up against the wall.
Using the definition of boundaries to make prints on is both obvious and cheeky. There is no respect for the boundaries, as Gailer gets too close for respect. He boldly states the obvious in his titles. And this cheeky wit has won him awards including in 2008 the Fremantle Acquisitive Print Award for Hot Process, a page in Art Almanac that Gailer had paid to be included in the magazine.
Gailer’s solo exhibition, “Why buy when you can make your own” at Michael Koro Galleries is a bold statement of his style of printing. Many of the prints on exhibition are made using printmaking techniques that are not considered artistic: commercial offset lithograph printing in two art magazines, commercial sign writing, digital print, and photocopy. But these are all undeniably forms of printing; as are the two car tires (with white rims to match the overall colour scheme) that have been used to print phrases on the gallery floor.
It looked like Michael Koro Gallery had been painted specifically for this exhibition. The black floor, white walls and white plinths matched the black and white of Gailer’s printing. Of course, it is the other way around; Gailer’s printing is influenced by the aesthetics of the gallery space, the art magazines and the art world.
The title of the exhibition, “Why buy when you can make your own”, is a question that many people have about extremely minimalist art that requires few technical skills to produce. It is also a problem for emerging artists to sell this kind of work. Gailer has a solution for this sell the copyright of the piece, attractively mounted in a perspex tubes on perspex plinths ready for display.