Terrie Fraser, Intimate Attachments, Upstairs Flinders
I found Terrie Fraser’s exhibition particularly interesting because of the extreme variety of my reaction to her 18 paintings. Some I loved, others I hated and others I was indifferent about. This is not because of the differing quality of painting because there are no drastic differences in technique and the quality remains consistent. Nor is it because of the different subject matter in the paintings because all of the 18 paintings depict cloth. I loved, hated and was indifferent to Fraser’s paintings because of the meaning of the paintings.
“An Unlikely Attachment” was one of the paintings that I loved. The power and formal austerity of this painting comes from the combination of illusionism and hard edge abstraction.
Other of Fraser’s paintings that I like included a series of small paintings copying tightly cropped details of fabric in paintings by Leonardo, Caravaggio, Fetti and Rembrandt (although the Rembrandt study did not seem to work, it was still worth attempting).
I hated 3 of the paintings where the Fraser had sculpted the folds of the white fabric to resemble figures. They had a twee sentimentality about them often found in the art of spiritually driven fantasy artists.
All of the paintings have a neo-baroque quality from the dramatic, quotation of fabric from old master paintings to the metamorphosis of the fabric. And they all had the power to generate a very definite emotional response from me.
Art about fabric is a minor genre of still life, but not uncommon; earlier this year I saw a group exhibition, Ephemeral Folds, at Pigment Gallery and I paint them myself (see My Art).
I missed the opening of the Don’t Ban the Can exhibition at 696 because I was at the launch of ‘I Art Sydney Road’ (the exhibition title with the least grammar this year). 696 is also participating in the ‘I Art Sydney Road’ with two paintings in their window. I won’t be reviewing ‘I Art Sydney Road’ because I am participating in it; exhibiting a still life painting at Mia Moda, 179 Sydney Road.
At that launch of ‘I Art Sydney Road’ Mayor Joe Caputo of Moreland, was talking enthusiastic about graffiti. He was especially after briefly visiting the Don’t Ban the Can party. He told me that there was only one complaint about the party. “There is always one,” he said. This is in contrast to the media and police speculation about trouble before the event. (See my recent entries: Don’t Ban the Can and Chill.)
The Don’t Ban the Can exhibition in the gallery room at 696 features a large number of artists and art at affordable prices. There are some familiar artists in the exhibition, including Pierre Lloga, Maxcat and Phibs. The exhibition has a surprising variety of media and techniques, not just aerosol works and stencils. There are also photographs, drawings and paintings. I was particularly impressed with Kid Zoom’s painted crushed spray can with its crazy forms and impressive detail.
Many of the works feature sculptural elements. Happy created a deep framed painting combined with a sculptural, paint-sniffing spray-can character. The issue of huffing (paint and solvent sniffing) was on the mind of many of the artists in the exhibition. Huffing is a far more serious medical and social problem than petty vandalism and yet it is not being addressed with draconian legislation.
Much of the art in the exhibition included polemical political statements about Victoria’s anti-graffiti legislation. Braddock stated it clearly in his painting a simplified figure with mask and gloves says in a speech balloon: “You can’t ban culture”. Banning a culture is a crime against humanity.
On the way to the exhibition I stopped to talk to four guys busy painting a piece by the railway line in Coburg. I asked if they wanted anything to do a piece: “just permission” was their reply.