Tag Archives: Karen Woodbury Gallery

Exhibitions This Week

I saw some of the galleries in Albert Street, East Richmond this week: Shifted, Anita Treverso and Karen Woodbury.

Why overlay images? Ian Bunn, who is exhibiting at Shifted thinks that overlaid images are essentially contemporary. His overlayed images have the intense colours of a cathode ray tube. See one of the videos on exhibition at this link. At Anita Treverso Gallery the exhibition by Tanmaya, uses overlaid images to suggest a person over time. This effect creates surreal images of pregnant children and trans-generational portraits. The amalgamation of images is finely rendered in colour pencil. At Karen Woodbury Gallery, Locust Jones doesn’t overlay images; they are brutally piled up until they fill the large sheet of paper in a deliberately crude but effective style. Locust Jones is creating images about some of the big ugly issues of our time: global warming and toxic debt.

Back to Shifted, where in the second gallery and the office Ede Horton is exhibiting “Perspective”. Glass hands and feet become creatures with glass eyes; the foot with toothy jaw and pointy ear is particularly menacing. Rows of kiln-cast black-glass small faces float in rows of meditation. Only one work, the “Gumnut Offering” was a little too sweet for my taste.

Later in the week I saw the “The Endless Garment” at RMIT gallery. On exhibition were endless machine knitted garments. Amongst the silly (anyone would look silly wearing these garments) or conceptual works in the exhibition there are some elegant knitted numbers. But it is a fun exhibition; even the two boys who came with their parents, while I was there, thought many of pieces were fun, even funny. Aside from being a bit of fun the exhibition did feel like a promotion for the “Wholegarment ®”.

Looking at Belgium designer Walter Van Beirendonck’s skinKing collection that featured knitted hood veils; both my wife and I thoughts turned to the French parliamentary commission recommending laws banning the burqa. Would the wearing of these endless knitted garments also contravene the proposed laws, because the face was covered? Even though there was both a male and female garments. And the craziness of the French passing fashion laws hits me like a wet Gaultier bustier. There are so many veils in this exhibition; but who is going to censor a fashion designer when the objective of the French laws is to attack Muslims. And what about the whole knitted body suits of UK designer Freddie Robins? From head to toes endless knits with no holes anywhere.

Finally at Platform and Sticky they were celebrating zines with “The Festival of the Photocopier”. “The Undiscovered Press” exhibition at Platform is curated by Melissa Reidy features a selection of zines from around Australia. The artwork and printing of zines are slicker than ever.

In Vitrine at Platform I also admired Jessica Herrington’s “A particular excess”, the thick layers of black paint solidified on an un-stretched canvas, the excess of paint dripping down and wrinkles as the skin dries. It is an excess of paint.


Figuration?

“Figuration Now” is a group exhibition of four notable contemporary figurative artists at the Karen Woodbury Gallery.

There seems to be some confusion in the title of this exhibition between the words ‘figuration’ and ‘figurative’. Figuration is the giving an allegorical form by representing it using human or animal forms. Figurative is the depiction of human or animal figures in art, with or without an allegoric or emblematic meaning. Figurative art is common now and this exhibition is able to presents a broad range of styles and techniques from traditional to idiosyncratic. However, to describe all of the work on exhibition as figuration is to erroneously conflate all figurative art with figuration.

Del Kathryn Barton, the winner of the 2008 Archibald Prize, is influenced by the elongated figures of Egon Schiele and the work of famous, American, outsider artist, Henry Darger. Although her multi-media paintings and drawings are figurative her one sculpture in the exhibition is clearly figuration. The tower of baby doll arms growing out of the pumpkin is a surreal allegory of fecundity.

McLean Edwards makes fun allusions to the history of European portraiture and in turn Australian painter, William Dobell’s controversial 1944 Archibald prize-winning portrait of Joshua Smith. The figures in Edwards’s paintings represent the idea of European portraits; the dark background giving form to his figure is an attribute of portraiture not just a ground for the figure. Edwards’s figures are dressed in what are clearly costumes and costumes are tools of figuration, a means of creating an allegorical or emblematic figure.

Nusra Latif Qureshi uses the Pakistani tradition of musaviri (miniature painting) to paint ideas about the post-colonial world. In this exhibition Nusra Latif Qureshi uses figures of iconic Australian beach culture as ironic symbols for boat people. Her delicate paintings of outlines are like diagrams that have become so full of lacunas that it is hard to see what they depict, a further allegory on the post-colonial world. Diagrams are another kind of figure, where ideas are represented. In her paintings the diagrams of dhows or the line of dashes to indicate distance travelled or borders crossed amplifies the figuration.

The paintings of Jonathan Nichols are clearly figurative. An argument that his paintings of women are emblematic of limited knowledge and therefore figuration could be made but it would be torturous.


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