The rooms and stairwell of Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) are once again full of a diverse selection of exhibitions.
Katie Saunders, “Promonation” reminded me of those all those Australian images of the beach full of young and free muscular blonde fascists. Saunders’s image fills the gallery in a mosaic of individual cards, like those used in massed stadium displays to create giant images. The acrobatics of her almost identical figures appears perfectly choreographed, like the mass displays at recent the Beijing Olympics. Saunders is inspired by her childhood in China and Chinese propaganda.
Anastasia Wiltshire, “Interplay”, is a series of paintings of ambiguous interiors with subdued colors populated with children. Wiltshire’s draftsmanship is evident in her figures. Her paintings appear incomplete creating an atmosphere of fleeting time.
Emma Anna, “Dear Indigo” is Joseph Cornell-style boxes, blueprint Rayograms (Man Ray-style), text sewn together with blue thread and a small installation of a table and chair. The colors of the exhibition are largely white and blue. With all of these art history references and artful installation the installation felt crowded and slightly impersonal. Emma Anna has chosen to promote this exhibition in the Fringe Festival.
Skye Andrew’s punk paintings of text, “It never rains in L.A.”, are full of ugly colors, splotches and crude brush strokes. These are tough uncompromising paintings in a style that is deliberately crude and tasteless.
Imants Krumins, “Peripatetic Cow The” is a visually dyslexic digital photography montage. Like the title of the exhibition Krumins has rearranged the images. And the images that have been artfully aged creating a feeling of nostalgia. With the addition of text they look like images from a book and indeed, Krumins is an artist and author.
In the stairwell of BSG there is an exhibition of photographers from Red Bubble. And at the top of the stairwell the Digital Fringe has a projection. The Digital Fringe is part of the Fringe Festival.
Sculptor David Tucker for ‘A Local Girl Comes Home’ won the 57th Blake Prize for Religious Art. Hindu fertility goddesses inspire Tucker’s sculpture. It reminded me that I have seen art and exhibitions this year (and last) that have been influenced by other religions: Islam, New Age and Buddhist, but not Christian.
Contemporary Christianity now longer has the money to influence artists like it once did. Christianity has also lost the spiritual/philosophical/religious influence on the arts that it once had. Science, political theories and other religions now have a greater influence on the contemporary visual arts in Australia than Christianity. For example, RMIT gallery exhibited the “New Scientist Eureka Price for Science Photography”.
At the same time RMIT gallery had “Black Robe White Mist”, the art of Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791–1875), a Japanese Buddhist nun, an artist, poet, calligrapher and potter. And Stephen McLaughlan Gallery showed Josie Telfer exhibition titled “Nine Waves” inspired by Zen Buddhism. The double layers of Telfer’s photographic images condense space and time in an attractive manner. The round glow of the moon creates a spotlight for a wave on a beach.
In contemporary art crucifixions are mostly blasphemous, piss-taking, jokes. Christianity is not an inspiration for contemporary art but a cultural chain to an ancient past impeding and restricting, often violently, current practice. Gordon Morrison, the Director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat is quoted in ‘Trouble’ (Sept.) that nudity is still taboo because of “that all-pervessiveness of the Juedo-Christian ethics that completely dominates us, for all of Norman Lindsey and what have you.’ (p.12)
Australian politicians still claim that Australia is a Christian culture but that requires both sophistry and the manipulation of statistics. It is clear that Christianity still has political influence in Australia and that historically it dominated the colonial era and early 20th Century. If Australia is a currently a Christian culture is odd that this is not evident in contemporary visual arts.