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.