Tag Archives: Sarah Scout

Like Mike

The exhibition, “Like Mike” pays homage to Australian artist Mike Brown (1938 – 1997) and looks at his diverse influence on other local artists. The National Gallery of Victoria had a Mike Brown retrospective in 1995 but a retrospective can only look back but an artist like Mike Brown also has an impact on the future. “Like Mike” is more of a prospective exhibition. And given the variety of art that Mike Brown created it needs to be a diverse exhibition.

It is a very ambitious exhibition that spreads across five Melbourne galleries: Neon Parc, Sarah Scout, Utopian Stumps, Charles Nordrum Galleries and the Linden Centre of Contemporary Art. And features the work of 33 emerging and established artists along with some work by Mike Brown.

The overall curator for this massive exhibition is Geoff Newton. I asked Newton why Mike Brown? “The practice has so much going for it in freedom of expression,” he replied. Newton is an incisive critic of his own work pointing out the holes in the exhibition. There is no graffiti, a major omission when Mike Brown was painting the walls of Fitzroy long before the current generation of street artists. And there are no indigenous artists represented.

The 100 page catalogue is an extensive work in itself, featuring images from the artists involved in the exhibition along with a bit of text. Geoff Newton said that he wanted the catalogue to be image heavy unlike the book by art historian Richard Haese, Permanent Revolution: Mike Brown and the Australian Avant-Garde 1953-1997, (Miegunyah Press, 2011)

I saw some of the exhibition Neon Parc, Sarah Scout and Utopian Stumps. I was unable to see the Linden Centre of Contemporary Art because they had shut their doors without explanation after the police raid on Saturday 1st of June (see my post Police Raid Gallery).

Neon Parc has an all women show, giving a feminine perspective on Mike Brown’s influence, with an intense hanging of 30+ works in the small gallery.

The exhibition at Sarah Scout looks at the body and references to pornography. It features familiar work by Pat and Richard Larter and, for me, the unfamiliar work of Claire Lambe and Nell.

Utopian Stumps takes on Mike Brown’s interest in abstraction. I particularly enjoyed seeing the work of John Nixon in this context.

These exhibitions provided both a deeper understanding of Mike Brown’s work and his current influence in Australian art. Ireverant, irritating and diverse… like Mike.


Explosion in a Rococo Allusion

Lisa Young’s vision is of the baroque/rococo world exploding, like the painting of unstable architectural fantasies by Monsù Desiderio (1593-c.1644). There is a hyper-rococo exuberance about her lines; they look like the doodles that have suddenly become masterpieces. At a distance the image doesn’t make any sense, just a dynamic movement of lines and close up you are consumed by the details. The fantastically detailed lines are like the overblown apocalyptic detail of comic book explosions, except that Young knows when not to draw everything. In Young’s images the detail is more evocative than illustrative. Amid all the wonderful intense lines it is the absence of detail that makes these images, the parts that have been left out. It is like reflections in rippling water at the point of disintegration.

Sarah Scout presents Lisa Young “Big World”, a small exhibition of digital prints. Sarah Scout is an upstairs gallery on Crossley Street (in the same building that in the 1850s the landscape painter, Eugene von Guerard, lived and worked). Lisa Young started her art career in Adelaide but is now based in Melbourne.

Young created the digital prints by combining traced images of so much baroque and rococo (or late-baroque) ornamental detail. The digital prints have been hand colored – the hand coloring is kind of minimal, again just fragments, the white on white paper, or small patches of pale color.

The Rococo is an ornate grotto decorated with shells (and “Grotto” is a title of the one of Young’s images). Another one of Young’s titles refers to the French Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

Transformation is at the heart of the baroque vision, it is a world that is unsettled and in motion – a world not unlike our own. It is vision of over the top splendor and amplified emotions. If I wanted to expand to write about other baroque influences in current art exhibitions I wouldn’t have to look any further than the Bill Henson exhibition at Tolarno Gallery. Henson’s neo-baroque vision is more somber than Young’s rococo exhuberence but the feeling of unsettling mysterious change is the same. Henson captures this in the look in the eyes of the woman turn away from Rembrandt’s painting “The return of the Prodigal Son”; and in another photograph with Rembrandt’s “Danaë” floating like a nimbus above the people in the museum and again the face of a woman looking away. Henson’s photographs are less ornamental and decorative than Lisa Young’s digital prints but the awareness and mystery of transformative experience haunts them with neo-baroque sensibilities.


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