Daily Archives: May 29, 2009

Paintings @ Flinders Lane

I saw several exhibitions in galleries along Flinders Lane yesterday; there were a lot of paintings. So this entry is a brief survey of paintings currently on exhibition in Flinders Lane.

The best of these was Kate Bergin’s “Table Top Variations” at 45 Downstairs. I’ve seen Kate Bergin’s beautiful oil paintings before but this was the first time that I’ve seen a whole exhibition of her work. These are fun paintings as well as beautiful paintings that combine neo-baroque manner elements in still life and animal paintings. Bergin plays with the images: an angry penguin with a pistol tied around its neck, a rabbit sits on a fox, a kookaburra laughs at an angora goat. Bergin has some kitsch interests, part of her neo-baroque popularism, exemplified by the flying duck against red wallpaper or the kitsch objects included in some of the paintings. Kate Bergin’s signature is always on a trompe l’oeil tag tied to something in her paintings. There are a few minor problems with these magnificent paintings, as the cut and paste images appear too unreal, betraying the beautiful illusion of her paintings.

Also at 45 Downstairs is a group exhibition of painters – “So the World Appears: Australian Visions of the Land”. There are paintings by Drasko Boljevic, Dorothy Napangardi, Polly Ngale, Mark Stewart and Andrew Trahair. It is an exhibition of Aboriginal and European painters, a rare thing in Australia until this year. There are dot paintings by Polly Ngale and Dorothy Napangardi. Andrew Trahair’s abstract expressionist paintings with a few Pro Hart influences in his smaller canvases. Drasko Boljevic’s lurid, spray-painted scenes have references to European old masters. Mark Stewart’s cloudscapes with their grid of blocks are very beautiful and calm paintings.

Flinders Lane Gallery, “Exploration 9”, is a group exhibition of emerging artists including several painters. David Bradley’s abstract paintings on silk achieve a wonderful relaxed blurred quality to his rhythmic use of colours. Michael Staniak exhibits both an otherworldly sculpture lite from beneath by florescent lights and a large painting of an alien based on elements from the sculpture. Ben McKeown, takes dot painting to a minimal and child-like extreme with a dot outline of a house.

At Gallery 101 Anne Marie Graham’s “Exotic Queensland” appears influenced by Rousseau’s foliage. Graham paints helliconia, pandanus palms, bromeliads and other plants of Queensland. However, her muted colours, carefully designed and artificial nature sucks the life out of Graham’s gardens.

Michael Porter (aka Mic) is well known for his large painted expressionist faces high up on the walls of Melbourne. Michael Porter has an exhibition at Until Never where he works in a variety of media and scales from bronze figures, painting, etchings, ink on paper, carved wood and even burnt and drilled masonite. Unfortunately Mic’s image is almost the same in every case, the same over-worked face and body. The single bronze skull is a relief from this constant repetition, as are the pin bumps on all of the larger bronze figures, a reference to the points used to scale up a sculpture.

I will write about Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s four paintings at Arc One in a separate entry.

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