Tag Archives: post-minimalism

Exhibitions – September & October

I have managed to see a few exhibitions on Flinders Lane (Arc One and forty-five downstairs) in the city and Albert St. in East Richmond (Karen Woodbury Gallery, John Buckley Gallery and Shifted) in between the many meetings, emails, phone calls and wrangling with the Melbourne Stencil Festival website.

David Ralph exhibition ‘Extension’ at Arc One’s small “and” gallery space is just a couple of small paintings but Ralph’s paintings are always worth seeing. David Ralph’s painting is a marvel of contemporary techniques, drips and scraps and squeegeed of paint scatter the canvas. The images appear to be cut into the surface of the paint. The eccentric temporary imaginary architecture, tree houses with a space shuttle built on the back, the caravan for which Ralph is becoming known. The scenes are like something from Wm Burroughs’s Naked Lunch. “…houses in trees and river boats, wood houses one hundred foot long sheltering entire tribes, house of boxes and corrugated iron where old men sit in rotten rags cooking down canned heat, great rusty iron racks rising two hundred feet into the air from swamps and rubbish with perilous partitions built on multi-levelled platforms, and hammocks swinging over the void.” (p.90) Ralph could have found his palette of iridescent and nitrous colours on the pages of the Naked Lunch too.

“Tiny Tunes for Wee Australians” is an exhibition of small works on paper by Mexican artist Roberto Márquez at forty-five downstairs in Flinders Lane. Roberto Márquez has created an exhibition of Mexican surreal comments on Australia in mixed media collages with added illustrations. His tiny paintings of skeletons on pressed tree leaves are very Mexican.

Megan Evans “The Fall” in the side gallery at forty-five downstairs was using more dried leaves arranging them in post-minimalist ways in wall pieces, a framed arrangement and in a DVD.

The AK44, the Blackwater AR15, the Saber Defense Elite 5.56 and the Patriot P414 (US$1,125 RRP) sounds like the catalogue of a gun show rather than a description of an art exhibition. eX de Medici exhibition, “sweet complicity” at Karen Woodbury Gallery features delicately drawn images of all of these weapons. The pictures are drawn in a mixture of ink and mica that creates a thick and glittery line. The machineguns are set amidst neo-Rocco tattoo influenced background and wrapped in garlands. The background luxuriates in an excess of detail, dragons and waves or swallows and stars, completely fill the large sheets of paper. eX de Medici is a tattoo and fine artist which explains the tattoo motifs and the ironic machismo of titles, including “American Sex/Funky Beat Machine”.

Janenne Eaton’s “Bella Vista” is a fun exhibition at John Buckley Gallery. Janenne Eaton is Head of Painting at the Victorian College of the Arts. I thought that I was going to get away from the Melbourne Stencil Festival but there was more stencil and enamel aerosol paint in this exhibition. In “Only sleep cures fatigue” (2009) Easton uses a real bamboo blind as a stencil for the image of a window blind. Eaton also uses vinyl and decal bullet hole decals, LED lights and even rhinestones in her paintings contributing to their fun.

Shifted had two exhibitions Paul Batt’s “Mountain Portrait Series” and Andrew Gutteridge’s “A Linear Collection”. Batt’s “Mountain Portrait Series” is a series of photographs of the back of different peoples heads as they looked out over a view. It is a study in looking at someone looking at a landscape. Andrew Gutteridge’s “A Linear Collection” is a scatter of minimalist sculptures and or paintings. And it was hard to tell the Gutteridge’s sculptures from his paintings, a canvas with a twisted corner or another with diagonal cut into the surface. Lots of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines that Gutteridge has collected together and played with. Much of this play is about perspective and the illusion of three dimensions on a two dimensional plane.

Singapore’s Art World

I’ve spent the last few days in Singapore look at art galleries and meeting up with street artists because my wife was attending a conference. I tried to see a cross section of Singapore’s visual art world. From the high-brow end of Singapore art government galleries, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and 8Q, http://www.singart.com/8qsam/ the new contemporary art wing of SAM. To the commercial galleries, the contemporary art spaces and an artist-run gallery. I saw the art by emerging artists, art students, street artists and designers.

I’ve been to Singapore a couple of times before and I once wrote a directory of arts and culture websites for LookSmart, back in 1999. And most recently I published two interviews about street art in Singapore in this blog (Street Art in Singapore and Graffiti in Singapore II). So I met up with the guy’s that I’ve been exchanging emails with Rozaimie Sahbi (aka Slac), and self described, low-brow (stencil, batik and caricatures) artist and art teacher Kamal Dollah, in Singapore. Kamal brought Luthfi Mustafah (aka The Killer Gerbil) along and it was great to meet him. Thanks guys for showing me around. And a special thank you to Kamal for the excellent Malay lunch, not only was it good but I eating three new vegetables and a type of snail is an excellent experience.

Myself & Kamal Dollah

Myself & Kamal Dollah

There are many connections between Singapore and Melbourne because many Singaporean artist study at RMIT and other Melbourne tertiary institutions. Singapore’s street art has been influenced by contact with Melbourne street artists: Slac mentioned Drew and The Killer Gerbil recently visited Melbourne’s Blender Studios and the Everfresh Crew.

I saw some excellent contemporary art on exhibition at Osage Gallery and also at 2902 Gallery in the same building at the Old School on Sophia Rd. The Old School is prosaically an old school that has been converted into studios, galleries and other similar creative businesses.

Osage Gallery is a contemporary gallery, with some excellent spaces well light spaces with extremely high ceilings. The exhibition that I saw “Found & Lost” explored the limits of drawing and Khiew Huey Chain’s post-minimalist site-specific installation “Existential Construct” was the most spectacular piece in the exhibition. Using string drawn tight between nails “Existential Construct” created careful lines in the largest of Osage Gallery’s spaces.

2902 Gallery specializes in contemporary photography and a regular program of new exhibitions. The gallery is very new; it opened this year on the 29th of February, hence the name 2902. There are three gallery spaces, gallery lighting and humidity control, an important feature in Singapore’s environment. The exhibition that I saw featured the first graduating class of Singapore’s photography students. In another gallery design students were exhibiting “All Future Parties” – I only found the galleries at the Old School because of the signs for this exhibition.

wall painting outside 2902

wall painting outside 2902

Singapore is not a noted internationally for its artists but that is no reason to ignore it. I won’t and I am trying to write more about Singapore’s art world. The art scene in Singapore is marginal, it has cultural, social and political problems but it is definitely improving.

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