Tag Archives: Arc One Gallery

Art in the face of a climate emergency

I don’t expect that many of my readers will see the photographic artist Anne Zahalka exhibition “Wild Life/Australia” at Arc One Gallery. The exhibition is part of CLIMARTE’s ART + CLIMATE = CHANGE 2019 festival. It is another way of raising a critical issue, just as this blog post about the exhibition is yet another. For, at its best, art criticism is another way of exploring important issues.

In her series of photographs Anne Zahalka is trying to capture the dubious realist aesthetic of museum’s zoological habitat dioramas. Painted backgrounds that merge to become samples, taxidermy specimens, of the actual in the foreground, a form that Zahalka has adapted into a photographic collage of images. In her photographs the didactic intention of these modernist dioramas have been turned to teaching a new lesson about climate change. Fruit bats fall dead from their roasts in a tree in the extreme heat.

Along with her photographs, displayed on two plinths were plastic recovered from the Lord Howe Island. Both of these were included in her photograph depicting the sea bird colony of on Admiralty Rocks at Lord Howe Island.

Arc One Gallery is a commercial gallery that represents mid-career contemporary Australian artists. It is not putting this exhibition on as an act of charity; the importance of issue is evident to all who don’t have an ideological commitment to oppose them. I was expecting to see more evidence of this climate emergency in the city aside from this exhibition. I was looking for it but all I’ve seen is a couple of pendants and some painted bollards from Extinction Rebellion.

Too many species have become extinct in the half century of my life and many more are endangered or threatened by climate change, pollution or habitat loss. This includes humans, we are just another species on this planet, a species that future alien archeologists might refer to as the stupid ape.


Three sentence reviews of some June exhibitions

Katie Erasure, Simple upside down spectator

Katie Erasure, Simple upside down spectator

Fortyfive Downstairs, Emerging Artist Award  2018

A white ViewMaster-style stereoscopic viewer with a round magazine of surreal photographs by Ayman Kaake was one of two winners of the emerging artist award. The other was a bold abstract painting, Simple upside down spectator by Katie Erasure. Not that these winners were that far ahead of the rest of the exhibitors.

Lauren Simpeoni, Gift

Lauren Simeoni, Girt

Craft, Island Welcome

A great exhibition curated by Belinda Newick of necklaces in a wide variety of materials by fifteen intelligent and inventive jewellers. The exhibition is a reminder that the simple act of giving a necklace as a gesture of welcome, like a flower lei, becomes political because of Australia’s appalling treatment of Indigenous people and refugees. I didn’t expect such a political awareness in a jewellery exhibition but I welcome it.

Honey Long & Prue Stent, Phanta Firma

Honey Long & Prue Stent, Phanta Firma

Arc One Gallery, Honey Long & Prue Stent, Phanta Firma

Photographs of figures enveloped in fabric in matching landscapes along with some matching slumped glass objects. The sexy figures cocooned or wrapt in the fabric like surreal fashion photography. Long and Stent see this as some kind of achievement in depicting women but I didn’t see anything that David Lynch wouldn’t do.

Gabriella Mangano & Silvana Mangano, Tomorrow and tomorrow

Gabriella Mangano & Silvana Mangano, Tomorrow and tomorrow

Anna Schwartz Gallery, Gabriella Mangano & Silvana Mangano, Tomorrow and tomorrow

A series of metal bars on the floor and a video following in a woman’s footsteps as she walks around the city. The installation references the Global Women’s March initiated in Washington D.C. on 21 January 2017 and the 82 bars map the routes of the marches. It is an impressive installation but no revelations come from realising the reference.

Sunfigo, Reality

Sunfigo, Reality

Guerrilla exhibition Flinders Street between Batman and Russell, Sunfigo, Weaves

Using fluro pink nylon ribbon to sew images on chainlink fences is one techniques of Melbourne street artist, Sunfigo and it this technique has allowed him an exhibition near the NGV, probably closer than anyone would expected Sunfigo to get. Looking at Sunfigo’s work with views behind them adds to the images; his art keeps telling us to wake up to reality. This thief and vandal proof work is far more successful than Sunfigo’s last guerrilla exhibition in the city earlier this year.

Cassandra Smith, Water Life - Bathing Objects

Cassandra Smith, Water Life – Bathing Objects

Mailbox Art Space, Cassandra Smith, Water Life – Bathing Objects

The mailboxes are filled with a series of lumpy bronze sculptures to rent by the week and bathe with. Little photographs of happy renters are included beside some of the objects. For those who like their art small, eccentric and a bit weird. 

Looking for a story on Flinders Lane

Looking for something to write about for a blog post I looked at the galleries along Flinders Lane.

When I went into Arc One I knew that I could write a blog entry about Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s “The Dark Wood”. Their exhibition is a critical wet dream – I can tell my notebook: “collaboration…war artists…background field of green and browns…the paper sky has been wrinkled, the landscape becomes paper…the contradictions in Aust. foreign policy.” However, I have already reviewed their 2009 exhibition at Arc One.

I went downstairs to Fortyfive Downstairs and there was another possible story. Not the bland plywood architectural influenced work of Dayne Trower – the title says it all “Slow Decline”. But Mike Hewson’s “Under Standing Loss” could make a good story. Mike Hewson is a New Zealand artist whose studio was destroyed in this year’s Christchurch earthquake. He has even tried to recreate his studio in the backroom as well as framing a drawing pinned to the plaster studio wall that he sawed out before the building was demolished. Unfortunately I couldn’t get excited about Hewson’s paintings.

At Mailbox 141 Owen Hammond has a fun exhibition – “The Wonderful House”. Lots of fun with the simple form of a house: “Newton’s House” hangs in a series of pendulums, “Muybridge’s House” rotates on the dark time lapse photography grid, “Barb’s house” is a barbed wire house frame. It’s not substantial enough for a full blog post, and I’d get tired of the puns, but certainly worth looking at.

Flinders Lane Gallery was showing a surreal couple of exhibitions: Jon Eiseman’s quirky sculptures “Ships of the Night” and Juli Haas “Visions after Midnight”. Ann Schwartz Gallery had monumental video work by Gabriella and Silvana Mangano in the main gallery but upstairs Laresa Kosloff had a fun exhibition collecting artist’s signatures on her leg cast at the Biennale de Venezia, 2011. Charles Green and Lyndell Brown signed the cast along with Stuart Ringholt and about 17 other artists. Lots of Duchamp references could be made about this work but that means regurgitating my Master’s thesis, not a fun prospect.

Gingerbread Arts Centre

Later in the day I looked at a gingerbread city at the City Gallery at Melbourne’s Town Hall, very seasonal story, but not really as the Art Centre is shown with icing snow. The RMIT BA Gold & Silversmith Graduate Show, “It Was Like A Fever” at No Vacancy is also seasonal story – ‘tis the season student exhibitions.

When you look at a number of Melbourne galleries chances are one of them will be closed installing an exhibition. This time I was out of luck and two were installing: Craft Victoria and Until Never. While I was at Craft Victoria, I picked up a copy of Das Super Paper. I was looking for this month’s InTrouble to see if my article was in the print edition or just in the online copy. Anyway Das Super Paper is a great read, lots of excellent articles about art.

There are millions of stories in this city and hundreds of them are visual arts stories and these are some of them.

Brown & Green @ Arc One

Arc One Gallery has, “The Approaching Storm” an exhibition of Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s photography. “And” paintings, the “and” is written on the wall connecting the small side gallery. Brown and Green are best known for their paintings that are cut and paste works based on photographs. Exhibiting photographs could be like an actor appearing out of character and breaking the illusion but it is not like that with “The Approaching Storm”. The photographs are clearly photographs just as Brown and Green’s paintings are clearly paintings, even if they are sourced from photographic images.

I have admired the art of Lyndell Brown and Charles Green for many years. Their faux collage paintings juxtaposing diverse images seemed quintessentially post-modern. Brown and Green have been working together since 1989.

The photographs in“The Approaching Storm” were taken when Lyndell Brown and Charles Green traveled for six weeks through the Middle East, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf as the Australian War Memorial’s official war artists. Attached to the Australian Defence Force (ADF), they visited various Australian bases. I’m uneasy about this kind of collaboration. How would the hand of the ADF influence their art?

Brown and Green don’t forget why the war is being fought, quoting from the artists’ statement describing the photographs as a “portrait of force, of the hard edge of globalization”. In their paintings Brown and Green are more direct. In both paintings they juxtaposing the newspaper photo of the innocent victim, Dr Mohamed Haneef, “facing uncertainty” with images of Bollywood and mountain passes. In one painting they juxtapose an old illustration of the tree of life that places humans at the top with actual Afghans.

There are enough mass media images of the war in Afghanistan but Brown and Green focus on other aspects, the landscape and the changing light. The hand of the ADF is evident on the bleak landscapes and military architecture. The rows of concrete blast walls are covered in painted insignia and other emblems. The best photograph captures the Australian troops own subversion of the meaning of the war: “ROAD TO NOWHERE” is stenciled on the door of an Australian army vehicle; it’s small flag at half-mast.

I have not seen a great deal of quality art about “the war on terror”; war as the subject of art has lost its ethics, its romance and its purpose. Brown and Green’s paintings and photographs do not glorify, vilify, sympathize or empathize but exist as artistic documents about the war.

Street Art Influence

Melbourne’s street art is having an influence on art on exhibition in October at various galleries. There are powerful, fresh artists as diverse as Peter Daverington and young, emerging artist, Hayden Daniel. And Cathy Tipping’s embroided nude, on exhibition at First Site. Tipping used Photoshop for colour separation to determine different threads in the same way the stencil artists use colour separation for separate stencils.

Peter Daverington is exhibiting at Arc One Gallery. Daverington’s style combines the aesthetics of mystical geometry, Nietzsche high-altitude snowy-capped mountains, and hedonistic disco black. This could be a tacky combination in the worst possible taste but Daverington makes it look cool and elegant. His paintings are vast with dynamic geometric forms, reflective mirror planes and glacial mountain views.

The mirror planes divide the space, presenting a mirror opposite view of the same imagined geometry. The mirror is a metaphor for reflection, meditation on the infinite space that Peter Daverington depicts in his paintings. In the exhibition at Arc One Gallery a large dark shiny block in the middle of floor in the gallery reflected Daverington’s wall painting at the far end of the gallery.

The large temporary wall painting in the exhibition is an indication of Daverington’s street art roots. Peter Daverington has been involved in Melbourne’s graffiti art since the 1980s Last year Daverington’s exhibited Reflections of Hyperspace at Until Never. 

High-school student and emerging artist Hayden Daniel is exhibiting in the Sample cabinet at Platform. Splaterdash is a scatter-style exhibition. Daniel’s works in a variety of media: paintings and drawings and a pyramid of plastic creatures. Including a brush in jar of water and spray-can nozzles shows the means of Daniel’s art production. This is scattering is brought together with the main character of this exhibition – Daniel’s chicken man. Daniel previously exhibited at the Lenko Doodle Art Show at No Vacancy.

Melbourne’s street art is a dynamic creative force and will continue to have an influence on a wide variety of artists for many years.

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