Tag Archives: drawings

Ghostpatrol @ No Vacancy

Opening night crowd at Ghostpatrol's exhibition

On a cold and wet Thursday night in Melbourne a large crowd of people quickly fills No Vacancy gallery at the QV. It is the opening of Ghostpatrol’s first solo exhibition in Melbourne “warp points and seed vault save points”. Amongst the crowd of people there are many men with beards, one of them, a young man with a beard, neck length hair and hooded jacket is Ghostpatrol.

Ghostpatrol first came to the public’s attention on Melbourne’s streets. His particular aesthetic and illustration style making him stand out from the rest of Melbourne’s street art scene. Ghostpatrol’s illustration style meant that he also rode the wave of illustrations that rolled into Melbourne’s galleries in recent years. His coloured ink drawings of children in animal costumes are not realistic; they have the style of children’s book illustrations. His figures are engaging because they are engaged in mysterious activities.

Ghostpatrol’s particular aesthetic of childhood imagination, like the book “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome. It is the aesthetic of the tree house, cubby houses, reading books by electric torch light in a tent made of blankets. It is full of the magic and make-believe of childhood exploration. Ghostpatrol’s style and aesthetic translates well into a variety of media from drawings, paste-ups, street art, textiles, video, paper cuts and installations. It is an escapist aesthetic that is retreating into childhood games, even the exhibition title, “Warp points and seed vault save points”, sounds like a video game.

Inside Ghostpatrol's tent

In the gallery Ghostpatrol has made a large tent. Inside the tent there is a pile of cushions, made of fabric printed with his figures, on a rug before a triangular, like a psychedelic altarpiece of framed drawings, paper cuts, a video and objet trouvés. It is like many bedrooms in shared houses that I’ve known. There is a wall painting and a few other works outside the tent; Ghostpatrol told me that he set the exhibition up early last week and spent part of this week sewing and drawing in the warp point tent.  The found objects, like a brass paper knife with a monkey handle set on a triangle of wood, pinecones and plants growing in a book. These objects are not for sale, except for “Two approaching”, the bundle of sticks with two tiny figures painted in the cut surfaces of two of the sticks. As in other exhibitions Ghostpatrol is creating the exhibition as an installation to leave the exhibition visitor with an experience. It seemed like the gallery was only a third full of works by Ghostpatrol, including the objet trouvés (found objects), like a contemporary scatter style exhibition. It leaves me wanting more.

Ghostpatrol's installation style

I asked Ghostpatrol why he hadn’t had a solo show before? Ghostpatrol replied that he’d actually had his first solo show in Adelaide earlier this year, but that the real reason was that he enjoyed the experience of collaborating in group exhibitions too much because working with other people improves his techniques. I also asked Ghostpatrol about translating his work into textiles. He told me that he had fun doing the textiles and breaking away from his usual techniques. (See Invurt for a longer recent interview with Ghostpatrol.)


Cultures @ Brood Box

Wandering around the laneways west of Elizabeth St. has not been a regular feature of my exploration of Melbourne’s art galleries and street art. After all most of the art galleries are east of Elizabeth St. along Flinders Lane as are most of the laneways containing street art, or so I thought.

I was looking for Brood Box, a new gallery on Rankins Lane, “off Lt Bourke Street between Queen and Elizabeth Streets”, which narrowed it down to a couple of laneways. At first I thought that Brood Box, might have been a renamed Mahoneys Gallery, but I found that Mahoneys had become a framing service in the corner of another restaurant that fill these laneways. A strange combination – the meal was so good that I think I’ll have it framed.

There are other galleries and art dealers in the area but most are by appointment only. In Warburton Lane I saw there is a new gallery space but again by appointment only.

Paste-ups by Miso

On my walk I also saw a lot of street art, paste-ups by Miso and others, aerosol art by the Everfresh crew and others, and lots of street art sculpture. (See my entry on Street Art Sculpture.)

Rankins Lane has enough street art to draw attention to it. Brood Box is a big space with a trailer parked inside selling coffee and cakes, combining an art gallery with a coffee shop. The coffee-trailer has been painted by the ubiquitous Drew Funk. There are tables and chairs but also enough wall space for a contemporary art gallery. I was looking for Brood Box because Joseph Flynn was exhibiting. I had interviewed Joe for my entry on Fine Art Education and I wanted to see how his career was progressing with this exhibition.

Joseph Flynn’s exhibition, “Cultures” is two series of drawings on large sheets of paper. I found my self steeping back across the laneway and looking through the entrance of Brood Box to get far enough back to taken in one of the drawings as a drawing of a face. Up close the intensity of the lines that form the pictures look like circuit diagrams, cultures of bacteria or star-maps. There are many star and psychedelic references in the images and titles of this main series of drawings. The second series of drawings are more colourful with outline drawings of faces overlayed on top of one another. Flynn shows a great deal of confidence and skill in the execution of these large images.

I saw a few other exhibitions on my walk around the city but Cultures at Brood Box was the best that I saw that day.

Alister Karl’s Drawings

Alister Karl draws pictures. I have known this ever since I first met him at life drawing at Brunswick Arts back in 2005, when Joel Gailer ran it. In 2006 Alister Karl and three other artists took over the running of Brunswick Arts.

Alister Karl exhibits his drawings. This is, surprisingly, not a common artistic practice in contemporary art world where a traditional media like graphite pencils are rare amongst the photography, videos and installations. And it is not that he is some conservative traditionalist hanging on to pencil drawing regardless of current trends. He does not ignore trends when it fits with his artistic practice, like wall drawings.

Alister Karl draws pictures of large back-hoes, those machines for excavating. “This machine is a tool that we use to create the places we live in and destroy the places we live.” Writes Karl. Karl, like Francis Picabia and other Dadaists, admires the machine aesthetic. It is an aesthetic of alien functionality, caterpillar tracks and hydraulics. Are these real machines or Tonka toys? The aesthetic of boy’s mechanical toys has been marginalised by mainstream art.

Alister Karl draws with precision but he is not so obsessive that has to finish every detail. His completed drawings deliberately look unfinished, like works in progress, and with such mechanical drawing it would just be a matter of time to complete it. The incomplete is a major feature of his drawings as it emphasises the human who makes the drawing. In one of the largest and most complete instantiation of Karl’s backhoe drawings, exhibited at Brunswick Street Gallery, the drawing is on 4 large MDF panels leaning up against the gallery wall. The panels do not form a rectangle, they overlap and one panel is raised up on a couple of bricks.

I have known Alister Karl as an artist and as part of the curatorial committee of Brunswick Arts for the last four years. I have seen his art develop and focus over this time, however I have only mentioned him once or twice in my blog writing. So this entry is to, in part, redress that imbalance and also to provide a bit more depth to an examination of his drawings.

Midsumma @ Platform

*UQ/Midsumma Queer City at Platform Artist Group, curated by the Art Pimp (aka Din Heagney), is a fun exhibition. The artists selected by the Art Pimp are playful, even trivial rather than serious. (“Life is too important to be taken seriously” Oscar Wilde) And there is enough variety in the art for the viewer to find something that appeals to them from photographer Linsey Gosper’s installation in Vitrine to Sam Wallman’s comic illustrations in the Majorca building cabinets.

Frame cabinet has an exhibition of records and flip animation books by the artists involved in TAPR Tape Projects. Neither music records nor flip animation books for a good exhibition in a glass case, so two videos display these works in operation.

The Underground Garden by Matt Shaw is a miniature cityscape at night. The succulents planted in a black pebble ground are trees next to the metal grates that form skyscrapers. Matt Shaw is the garden artist for Collective Melbourne, a craft/art/garden/coffee-shop in St. Kilda.

In the Platform cabinets there is, from the USA, Jombi Supastar’s extravagant multi-media drawings have the intensity and primitive power of an outsider artist. And from NZ, Jason Lingard’s elegant erotic idols are the thinking person’s eye candy. For me local artist, Freddie Jackson’s digital print morphing a mirror-ball and the death-star is one of the stars of the show; Star Wars is such high camp.

Hannah Raisin’s “Suger Mumma” in Sample is an installation that uses a lot of Fruit Loops, the brightly coloured breakfast cereal. Mounting the Fruit Loops on cling-wrap she made a one piece bathing costume and bathing cap. Then she takes a milk bath by the sea. This is all recorded on video and photos and displayed in the Sample cabinet. The sickly sweet Fruit Loops provided a counterpoint to the excitation.

Platform and the Art Pimp do not appear to be suffering any chill effect from the censorship by the City of Melbourne last year of the nude photographs in exhibition, ‘The Puma, The Stranger and The Mountain’, by Cecilia Fogelberg and Trevor Flinn. The work in *UQ are fun, erotic and sexy.

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