Tag Archives: digital prints

Platform – April 2010

Vexta “Extinction in Technicolour” occupies the main set of cabinets at Platform with paintings of flying figures that Vexta is famous for and installation elements.

Who are these figures? Is their extinction from our distant past or the near future? The painted animal skulls and bones made me think of an archaic cult. The animal skulls are often decorated creating a new zoology, where beaks protrude from skulls as if all creatures had the potential to transform into birds. In the paintings I kept on seeing myths from archaic Crete: Icarus with his wings, and Pasiphaë, the mother of the Minator. But that might just because I’m immersed in that mythology.

The images could also be from our future. The psychedelic colours, the scatter of broken glass and mirror cubes that adorn the animal skulls reminded me of the remains of a rave. Those little mirror cubes are so fashionable right now, decorating so many accessories. Is the wax that holds our civilization together melting like the wax holding the feathers onto Icarus’s wings?

Although Vexta comes from a street art stencil background, in Vexta’s images are mostly brush painted. However, the colour separation and design techniques used are common stencil art techniques. There are a few stencils and lots of aerosol spray dots. The paint drips from the aerosol dots and the paint drips from the run down across the black ground. Referencing her street art background Vexta’s large unframed paintings are propped up on aerosol cans, like Chris Ofili’s using elephant dung props for his paintings.

At first I thought that Jordan Wood’s untitled installation in Vitrine was part of Vexta’s show. The scatter of black objects matched the black bones and black background in her exhibition. The objects, the melted black plastic, the black ritual artifacts made from the remains of our own culture, like the cluster of golf clubs, are both threatening and useless.

In the Sample cabinet there is an installation of digital prints by Kumiko Michishita. Conversational phrases are painted in white on the glass of the display cabinet, like “It’s getting cold and harder to get up in the morning”. In the background amidst the mosaic of color digital prints are more eccentric statements: “sleep in blue”, “wear orange”, “breath in green”, and “eat red”.

In the two glasses cases at the Majorca Building there are two enlarged photocopies of a hand making a V sign in both directions. One is palm front, a symbol for “peace” the other, with the back of the hand, a symbol for “fuck”. It is Carl Scrase’s work “The Generative Power of Opposites” – crude but effective.


Cocker Alley & Nicholas Building

Cocker Alley at the back of the Nicholas Building has been largely untouched by street artists, except for a stencil work of a diving helmeted figure (by Banksy?) preserved under plexiglass, at the corner. The rest of the ally is used to store rubbish bins. Perpetually in shadow and stinking, Cocker Alley is not a welcoming place, and drawing attention to it with the Laneway Commission can only help.

“Welcome to Cocker Alley” by Bianca Faye and Tim Spicer is part of the City of Melbourne’s Laneway Commissions 08. “Welcome to Cocker Alley” imitates the external pipes of Paris’s Centre George Pompidou in an ephemeral work, the gold leaf is expected to dissolve completely over the course of the year. The pipes covered in gold are all sewer pipes coming from the toilets on that side of the Nicholas Building so there is an obvious psychological interpretation – shit is gold.

The Nicholas Building was once a modern office building; consider all the modern conduits of communication in the building, the elevator, the no longer functional mail slide that runs from the top floor to the ground. It is now a bohemian haunt, from the boutique fashion stores in the arcade with its leadlight roof, to the elevator operators and the artists, jewellery makers and fashion designers that have their studios in the building. The building also houses is also the Victorian Writers offices and three art galleries: Blindside, Pigment and Stephen McLaughlan Gallery.

When I was last in Stephen McLaughlan Gallery there were a trio of musicians rehearsing and contributing to the pleasant ambience. Laurel McKenzie was exhibiting a series of digital prints of a collage of a field of textures with figures roughly torn from the same textured surface. It creates an intense visual effect recognizing the camouflaged forms. And in the south facing part of gallery, Craig Barrett was exhibiting a series of drawings of central Australian landscapes.

A floor lower at Blindside Artist-Run Space was showing Prohibition by Pamela See. See’s contemporary paper-cut work expand this delicate traditional art to floor pieces and steel sculpture. Cutting falling leaves from old Chinese propaganda images creates a strange, ambivalent nostalgic mood.

The studios at the back of Blindside are being cleared out in preparation to create another gallery space. The Nicholas Building continues to change and evolve.


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