In Sparta Place there is a new gallery, Beinart Gallery offering “fine art” and “curiosities”. Gallery director, Jon Beinart has been involved with pop surrealism for over a decade, publishing books for several years and collecting a coterie of artists. Beinart says that all the gallery now has a physical presence most of his business is online sales.
Pop surrealism is the bastard child of Salvador Dali and a Hollywood Blvd hooker. The child grew up in an American tattoo parlour reading underground comics and eating acid like it was candy. Like many of that generation pop surrealism traveled the world, growing bigger, fatter and more popular but is still hanging out in a tattoo parlour reading comic books, or fatter graphic novels.
One side of the shopfront gallery is used for temporary exhibitions, the other side has a selection of diverse works from the stockroom.
The current temporary exhibition is “Transmogrify” a three person exhibition by Ben Howe, Tim Molloy and Jake Hempson.
Howe’s paintings depict the point of disintegration of the head, fracturing or metamorphosing into a tangle of ribbons. I first saw Ben Howe’s work in the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2009 but this is first time that I’ve seen a series of his paintings. His current work aren’t stencil works but oil paintings; Howe completed a Masters of Fine Art at RMIT in 2011.
Illustrator and comic artist, Tim Molloy has a series of watercolour paintings of strange characters based on his work for his graphic novel, Mr Unpronounceable and the Infinity of Nightmares.
Digital animator Jake Hempson also makes actual sculptures. In a series of busts that explore alternate anatomy of human heads with a particular focus on the interior surface of the maxilla, the upper jawbone, or replacing the head with an animal skull.
At Tinning Street presents there is a tour de’force of paper cutting by Japanese artist, Akiko Nagino. Nagino explained that has only been in Melbourne for a few years and was amazed at how many people have come to see her “Cutting Nature” exhibition. It is obvious. It was also obvious when she was a finalist in the Victorian Craft Awards in 2015
Her designs are of butterflies, patterns and decay. There are lower edges that are dripping, distorted or melting, there are broken chains, all perfectly cut out of paper.
The cut paper is a substitute for clothes or jewellery; there are two butterfly patterned kimonos, a giant necklace, a handkerchief and several shawls. In some of the works the paper has been treated and coloured with iron and copper finishes.
Large scale hand cut paper pieces are complimented with dry embossed prints of the cut paper pieces. The subtle white on white of embossed paper balancing the high contrast of the cut paper piece.