“Tales and Oddities in the Parlour Room” at Per Square Metre is a group exhibition by three friends who meet doing the Masters in Fine Art course at RMIT. Although the three artists, Tom Gleisner, Randa Helal and Jessie Ngaio, are friends their work could not be more different in style and mood.
Tom Gleisner (not the famous Australian actor and director but the emerging artist with the same name) paints cool, light pop images with silhouette outlines.
Randa Helal has a baroque surreal style making dolls and characters from children’s illustrations sinister and disturbing. Helal’s has work in a number of media from collage to oil and enamel paintings but her style and vision remain as consistent as her dark backgrounds.
Jessie Ngaio’s art is a prolific, creative explosion of funky color and forms. Ngaio does not hold back in her art; creating dolls, painting using 70’s wooden serving trays as supports and dancing in a painted mask and costume on a video.
The title of the exhibition tries desperately to bring them together, but “tales and oddities” is too general. Sure the art have a sense of humor but the mood is so different from Gleisner’s cool irony to Ngaio’s exuberance. All the art is figurative using pop culture references and both Helal and Ngaio use dolls in their art but again they are working in opposite directions. The artists’ work is hanging mixed together, salon-style in the exhibition and the mood of the exhibition jerks and jars between the clashing styles of the three artists. Ultimately “Tales and Oddities in the Parlour Room” is less than the sum of its parts.