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Tag Archives: Daniel Dorall

Allegories of the PRB

Allegories of the PRB is an exhibition of sculptures by Daniel Dorall and drawings by Steve Cox that reflects on and refers to the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB). The exhibition notes describe the PRB as “a radical and revolutionary 19th Century art movement” but I would disagree with almost every word except “19th Century art”. Extreme and reactionary, this eccentric circle of seven artists was originally thought of itself as a secret society. Not that this excludes them from being worthy of further reflection.

Daniel Dorall’s sculptures are architectural models populated with model railway figures. Normally I would avoid an exhibition of architectural models because mostly they appear to me as lifeless design studies. However, there is a special appeal to something when it overcomes the original dislikes and objections to that category and Dorall’s models are populated and overgrown, suggesting not just life but archeological and psychological depth.

Dorall’s self-contained labyrinthine architecture sums up the psychology of the PRB. In Love Triangle – Ruskin, Effie, Millais, 2009 each person is trapped in their own box that each contains its own hedge maze. The Good Shepherd sums up the PRB’s approach to Christianity. Other works, like Tennyson and Ophelia are more illustrative, creating a homage to the famous paintings by Waterhouse and Millais in H0 scale models.

Steve Cox’s fine drawing in pencil and watercolour on paper, condenses the brotherhood into a series of studies and portraits. They also contain several keys to Dorall’s PRB references, like The Blind, and both parts of this exhibition would be poorer without the other.

Daniel Dorall, The Good Shepherd, 2007-14

Daniel Dorall, The Good Shepherd, 2007-14

The Prosopopoeias by Olivia Pintos-Lopez at first reminded me of a small scale version of Linde Ivimey’s only less grisly without all the bones. There are a few teeth and bones amongst the all the found materials. The figures have a voodoo doll aspect incorporating reused materials, bits of antique lace, embroidery, buttons, beads and kid leather. On a shelf that runs along the gallery wall groups of figures, posed in a variety of ways, stand and sit. Often, in the gestures there is a strong maternal feel that contrasts the sinister, bound, hooded (blinded or blinkered) figures. The rabbit ears of many of the figures adds to both the sinister and the maternal elements as the childhood anthropomorphising of toys turns feral.

Olivia Pintos-Lopez, Untitled, 2015

Olivia Pintos-Lopez, Untitled, 2015

Both of Allegories of the PRB and The Prosopopoeias are currently on at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick.

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The Plural of Moose

Moose, spiders, giant cane toads, monsters, fantastic fun, unbelievable, strange and beautiful. All of these feature In Your Dreams, the current exhibition at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick. Curated by Edwina Bartlem and Victor Griss the exhibition is intended “to spark the imagination of children and the young-at-heart”.

I went to see the exhibition with a person who wished to be described as “boy (aged 11)” and his parents, who are old friends of mine. I wanted to know get a child’s opinion of it because of this curatorial intention and also to get a fresh perspective on  the work from artists that I have enjoyed for years.

The boy aged 11, divided the exhibition into the cool, the good and the alright. In his opinion Kate Rohde’s work was “really cool”, especially Tarantula. Here the boy aged 11 proved articulate, as well as, observant, pointing out the glitter covered bird skeleton and taking about South American bird eating spiders.

Mark playing Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine, You We're in My Dreams, 2010

Mark playing Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine, You We’re in My Dreams, 2010

Words were not needed to express his appreciation of Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine’s You We’re in My Dreams 2010 – the boy aged 11 was fully engaged with it. The stop-motion interactive installation puts the face of the player onto the screen making it entertaining to watch and play. The boy aged 11 played on this as his father and I made our way around the gallery again and then waited, reminding him that, there were other people waiting to have a go (me).

Daniel Dorall model, Game and William Eicholtz’s sculpture, retelling the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Princess and the Pea with lamb princess covered in oak leaves and fake gems, both received the honourable mentions of “pretty good” and “good” from the boy aged 11. I’d have to agree with him about that but use different words and I prefer Eicholtz’s other sculpture in the exhibition, Courage, for its beautiful movement, complex meaning, especially for the glowing red rocks.

I was disappointed that the boy aged 11 didn’t have any comment about Sharon West, photographs and dioramas and how they relate to Australian identity (see my previous posts). I thought that her Cook encounters a very large can toad is hysterically funny. Personally I was also glad to see Steaphan Paton’s Urban Doolagahl again, this time in a gallery after seeing them on the street (see my previous post) and to hear some Dylan Martorell, ambient audio track in the gallery.

In answer to my interest in how the exhibition worked for children, the boy aged 11, declared that it was suitable for children aged 7 or older because of the ideas and level of abstract thought required. I asked him about this because there is very little of what could be described as juvenile in the exhibition, it is not a word that comes to mind when I think of the work of any of these artists.

The exhibition raises questions what is the difference between children’s taste and adult tastes? Some tastes (camp, over the top, psychedelic) require experience (yes, Mr. Hendrix, I am) to fully appreciate but that doesn’t exclude children from enjoying them. It was great to see the psychedelic landscapes of Kate Shaw and Stephen Bush in the exhibition. The weird and the wonderful are strange attractors in chaos of different tastes and they can be read in many different ways depending on the experience of the viewer and how the viewer thinks that others will react.

After leaving the boy aged 11 expressed disappointment that there wasn’t more of the exhibition. I felt that way too, all of the artists in this exhibition have been making really fun art for years and I still want to see more of their work.


Lot’s Wife @ Pesgrave Place

The TwentybyThirty Gallery is the smallest gallery in Melbourne; it is a vitrine 20x30cm in the corner of the door of a bar. It is in Pesgrave Place. You will never find Pesgrave Place unless you know that it is off Howey Place, which is off Little Collins St. just before it crosses Swanston Walk. It is a cul de sac principally used to service the shops that backs on to it.

Frames in Pesgrave Place, Melbourne

The collection frames are still on the wall of Pesgrave Place 4 or 5 years that they were glued there – so much for the ephemeral nature of street art. There is other street art in Pesgrave Place but is not as dense as in other Melbourne street lanes.

Daniel Dorall, Lot's Wife, 2011

It was hard to see Daniel Dorall’s installation “Lot’s Wife” at TwentybyThirty Gallery because of building work going on when I went to see it during the week. The Biblical metaphor of Lot’s wife fleeing from the decadent city of Sodom is portrayed with dark humor. Dorall’s model of an architectural maze space perfectly fills the small space and the maze of laneways leading to Pesgrave Place. If you haven’t seen Dorall’s art before then this will be a good work to see and it can be seen any time during day or night. Read my other blog posts about Dorall’s art – enter “Dorall” in the search box in the right column and click search.

Has anyone else visited Pesgrave Place?


B-side

Daniel Dorall, Ruth Fleishman, Cecilia Fogelberg and Tim Silver have all exhibited at Blindside before. But this time they are showing the B-side of their artistic practice.

“B-side” is an almost redundant term referring to songs released on the 7” single records. Wikipedia lists several types of material found on B-sides http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_side including different version (e.g., instrumental version) of the A-side or another track, a song not considered good enough for the album and a song that was stylistically unsuitable for the album. Or as B-side’s curator Andrew Tetzlaff describes it as the “edges of art practice.”

Daniel Dorall has a corrugated cardboard maze for the visitor to navigate before they can access the rest of the gallery. This is a very different scale of work from Dorall’s usual architectural models and is clearly a B-side of his art practice.

Ruth Fleishman is best known for her digital environments but in B-side she returns to traditional mediums with her Cacophony installation. Cacophony is a diorama of a play world influence by her work with children it is both grandiose and funky.

Cecilia Fogelberg’s “Three-Dimensional Sketchbook” is a B-side of her sculpture practice, as a sketchbook is preparatory material rather than finished work. Fogelberg’s ‘sketchbook’ is a collection of objects and a beautiful artist book that catalogues the collection.

Tim Silver is primarily a sculptor and photography is B-side of his art practice. Like an instrumental version of the same song, Silver’s photography has a similar theme of decay to his sculpture but this time played in lenticular prints of fire. Lenticular prints are a familiar novelty item; producing images that have an illusion of depth or movement when viewed from different angles. And novelty is another feature of the B-side.

Novelty and fun, rather than major works of art are the objectives of the B-side exhibition. The opening at Blindside on Thursday night felt very packed due to Dorall’s maze taking up most of the floor space. A temporary fence partitioned off Fleishman’s diorama to prevent it from being crushed by the crowd.


Architectural Art

Many architects are frustrated artists, and fortunately, sculptor Daniel Dorall is no longer one of them although his architecture training is still evident in his art. Dorall makes architectural models, not as unrealized architectural visions but as sculptural art with social critiques, subtle emotions and visual delights.

I went to the opening of Shaft, had a glass of red and talked with Daniel Dorall. I have been a fan of his work since I first saw it early in 2007.  For me, Shaft was like a mini-retrospective as I have seen many of the works before.  But in the past Dorall’s exhibitions have been in some of Melbourne’s smallest galleries, like Mailbox 141, (because these spaces suit Dorall’s miniature sculptures) or part of group shows. So it was a new experience to see over a dozen of his sculptures at Dianne Tanzer Gallery.

Navigating the corridors, symbols and references in Daniel Dorall’s sculptures can be fun. Like any maze there is an easy way in, we are all familiar with architectural models. Dorall  also uses the familiar images of a skull, a heart, a banner, twin towers, a cathedral, a soccer game, a picnic (and for the art historians, Warhol’s soup can and the Bar at the Manet’s “The Bar at the Folies-Begire”) as an entry point.

Once inside the maze of architecture of Dorall’s sculptures you are trapped, just as we are all trapped in the architecture of society, there is no way out of Dorall’s models. Maybe you could make it to the first aid red crosses located in deep in the maze, would you be safe then? Or trapped in a shaft?

The arrangement of rooms and corridors in Dorall’s models is very balanced, reminding me of Chinese calligraphy. The detail is amazing, a tiny crow is perched on the soccer goals, but the meaning is not immediately apparent. The pools of colored liquid, the vegetation, the animals and people that inhabit the area suggest stories, scenarios and ways of living.

Talking with Daniel Dorall he reminded me that quest for the right readymade railway model figurines for these models is part of the process of creation. Finding a woman in the right pose to copy the barmaid at the Folies-Begire’s pose was particularly difficult.

 

Along with Shaft at Dianne Tanzer Gallery there are other architecture-influenced exhibitions in galleries on Gertrude St.

At Seventh there is “the rebellious garden shed – a remnant childhood fascination revisited – “ by Dominic Kavanagh. Kavanagh’s shed has come alive and gone feral, up on four legs and vomiting out its contents. It is a wonderfully constructed fantasy but it has more depth.  We all horde of old junk/treasures in our sheds and we all have childhood memories of the shed as a place of wonder and mystery.

Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces looks like a construction site only cleaner and more pointless (and therefore art?). There is Willaim Seeto’s “Da Capo senza repetizione” with its wood frame twisting corridor with one-way mirror’s installed, even though you can see through the walls. And Nicolas Fenouillat’s “Iceberg” has an elaborate, over engineered exterior as if the interior was about to break out. Inside the Iceberg’s rumbling interior, made of Styrofoam, there is a video room showing an iceberg.


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