Tag Archives: Gertrude Contemporary

Spirit, Slackers and Contemporary Art

Various art galleries around Fitzroy – March 2012

At Sutton Gallery Brett Colquhoun’s “Spirit” is two separate bodies of work. There are landscapes where the condensation of the breath of the viewer is visibly obscuring the scene. And, in the main gallery, there is a larger series of drawings and paintings, “The Invisible”. In these painting geometric radiating rays of white, like hallucinatory radar grids, filling in the black surfaces. Breath + The Invisible = Spirit.

“Origins” by Damian Vincenzi at Kick Gallery is an exhibition of photographs of nature with a mirror image of one half. It is an old trick but Vincenzi has found some more beauty and magic in it creating visions of animals from mineral structures.

Seventh Gallery packs in three exhibitions into its small space. “Constructing Comfort” by recent Monash Fine Arts graduates, Rowan Moyle and Nickk Hertzog is in Gallery One. Slacker art like this installation is deliberately ugly, unappealing, shoddily crafted and dumb in such a way that it argues, with cynicism, that it must be great art because you and I can’t appreciate it. “Constructing Comfort” is anything but comfortable, although there are tarpaulin-covered shelters.

Leela Schauble’s “Dyeing Waters” installation in Gallery Two at Seventh Gallery is engaging with new visions of the body. In Seventh Gallery small Project Space “New Frontier” by Thomas Breakwell looked like so many other pieces of video art.

Brook Andrew “Maybe it’s meant to happen” 2010 at Gertrude Contemporary

Gertrude Contemporary has “No Name Station – China/Australia Cultural Exchange” The exhibition presents indigenous art from a remote Australian aboriginal community alongside work by contemporary urban artists from Australia and China. The journey into and out of the gallery is the strongest uniting element of this exhibition. From Brook Andrew’s neon installation (“Maybe it’s meant to happen” 2010) the front window to the back office there is a path, sometimes clearly delineated with a fence of branches by Liang Shuo (“Visiting a Show” 2012). There is art along the way there are paintings, videos, weavings and installations. I particularly enjoyed the photograph of the intervention by Zhao Zhao (“Cobblestone” 2007), a stone glued out of place in Tiananmen Square, and the woven Pandanus gift mats with witty slogans by Newell Harry.  Is this cultural exchange the colonization of Aboriginal art by the contemporary art empire?


Gallery Crawl – November 2011

It was a pleasant late November day in Melbourne – blue sky and sun – a perfect day for a walk around some galleries.

Paste-up on Gertrude Street

At Kick Gallery the lighting was still being adjusted for the opening that evening. The gallery was full of small sculptures, in a couple of different styles, until I was given a room sheet I was unsure if it was all the work of one sculpture; Craig MacDonald. One of his styles, the spun profile, reminded me of Renato Bertelli’s “Continuous Profile of Mussolini” 1933, but MacDonald has made a spinning fat woman instead of an Italian dictator. Most of his quirky bronze sculptures have an underlying quiet sense of humour, like the figure of an astronaut without pants.

Ben Millar’s “The Colour Notation Project” in Seventh Gallery front space had an electric guitar plugged in, if anyone wanted to attempt to read the colour notation. It was all explained and the score was on the wall, in several minimalist looking works. The backroom of Seventh contained a video installation (as usual) this time “Place of Tears” a haunting installation by Hermoine Merry and Henriette Kassay-Schuster.

69 Smith St. had one of many end-of-year student exhibitions at this time. I don’t know what to expect of NMIT Diploma of Visual Arts graduates but the exhibition was roughly hung and most of the work reminded me of art fads that I’ve seen several years ago. They really should have been looking at the work at Gertrude Contemporary, if they wanted to do contemporary art and exhibit it well. When I was looking around the “Gertrude Studios 2011” exhibition I thought that the art students rather than gone to NMIT should have just worked on a building site and learnt to build walls, an essential skill in the contemporary art scene. Josh Petherick’s “Leaning, with accompaniment” is a great example of this trend in cutting chunks out of plasterboard walls.

“Gertrude Studios 2011” is a good end of year exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary. I’m consider going to their open studio on Saturday 26th – I went to one several years ago and I wonder what else I have on that day and what the weather will be like.

CPSU demonstration in Melbourne

The day was made even more pleasant by the band on the back of a truck grooving away accompanying the CPSU demonstration that was rallying near Parliament. With music in the air and the day so pleasant I decided to forgo the trams and walked to Collingwood. On the way back I saw many nurses returning from another strike rall. Good luck to both of them; this is why there is an Occupy movement around the world. It is these underpaid but vital care workers who do need better pay and conditions rather than the executive mangers who are getting the pay rises.

Not that there was any deeply political work in any of the galleries or on the street, except for Paul Yore’s “Monument to the Republic” at Gertrude Contemporary, a piss-taking piece of slacker art that represents the Australian Republic perfectly. The boutiques, cafes and galleries along Gertrude and Smith streets looked apolitical, absorbed in their own style. There were lots of things to see on the walk; including an exhibition of modified top hats in the window of Smart Alec’s, and, of course, the street art down the laneways.

"From the Neck Up" - hats by Lu Skace J, Louise Blyton and Henry Maas

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