Tag Archives: still life

4 Photography Exhibitions

‘Birds’ by Marian Drew,  at Dianne Tanzer Gallery, is a small series of large-format, colour, still life photographs. Drew has become well known for her beautiful, hauntingly lite, still life images featuring dead animals. In this series it is dead birds. There is a fairy penguin with an enamel jug, a kingfisher’s blue plumage contrasts with strawberries, a beautiful multi-coloured bird lies on embroided cloth, and an emu lies next to a tiny finch smaller than a single toe of the emu. These photographs refer to the tradition of still life with objects on a table with tablecloth against a dark background. Marian Drew’s images of dead birds are not celebrations of hunting or eating in the way that traditional still life used dead animals. Drew uses animals that have died and in her photographs the dead birds symbolize our own mortality, another older tradition in still life.

The huge, empty landscape of Lake Eyre’s salt flats is the subject of “Salt” at Arc One Gallery by photographer Murry Fredericks. Fredericks’s photographs are large pigment prints on cotton rag. They could be mistaken for abstract paintings because of their abstract formal qualities. The photographs taken at sunrise or sunset show the white salt flat reflects the colour of cloudless sky, earth and sky separated by the thin line of the horizon. To document this strange inhospitable landscape and the heroic effort to take these photographs Fredericks has included a photograph of his campsite and bicycle in the exhibition.

At Shifted Terence Hogan is exhibiting a series of photographs, “(out the back)”. Hogan’s photographs are macro images of nature; images of the repetition and variation in nature are best shown in photographs. I presume that Hogan took the photograph out the back of his house but they could be out the back of beyond. I preferred Hogan’s double photograph images with subtle combination of two images to his single photograph images because they seemed more artful.

Fiona Dalwood’s “Cell”  is a large series of photographs documenting of defunct prisons, from Alcatraz to Ararat. These are photographs of the architecture of despair and institutional brutality. Along with the photographs are several didactic panels about prisons, unfortunately the photographs didn’t really illustrate the didactic panels and the information on the etymology of the word ‘panopticon’ is wrong. Dalwood wants to show Michel Foucault’s argument on how the architecture of correction shapes the lives of its inmates. Dalwood’s photographs are on exhibition at 69 Smith St.

I don’t know how to conclude this short review of four photography exhibitions, so vastly different are the techniques and subjects in them, except that the photographers who understood the history of painting produced more beautiful photographs.


Paintings of Folds

Terrie Fraser, Intimate Attachments, Upstairs Flinders

I found Terrie Fraser’s exhibition particularly interesting because of the extreme variety of my reaction to her 18 paintings. Some I loved, others I hated and others I was indifferent about. This is not because of the differing quality of painting because there are no drastic differences in technique and the quality remains consistent. Nor is it because of the different subject matter in the paintings because all of the 18 paintings depict cloth. I loved, hated and was indifferent to Fraser’s paintings because of the meaning of the paintings.

“An Unlikely Attachment” was one of the paintings that I loved. The power and formal austerity of this painting comes from the combination of illusionism and hard edge abstraction.

Other of Fraser’s paintings that I like included a series of small paintings copying tightly cropped details of fabric in paintings by Leonardo, Caravaggio, Fetti and Rembrandt (although the Rembrandt study did not seem to work, it was still worth attempting).

I hated 3 of the paintings where the Fraser had sculpted the folds of the white fabric to resemble figures. They had a twee sentimentality about them often found in the art of spiritually driven fantasy artists.

All of the paintings have a neo-baroque quality from the dramatic, quotation of fabric from old master paintings to the metamorphosis of the fabric. And they all had the power to generate a very definite emotional response from me.

Art about fabric is a minor genre of still life, but not uncommon; earlier this year I saw a group exhibition, Ephemeral Folds, at Pigment Gallery and I paint them myself (see My Art).


Blue, Miss Blimey & Moya McKenna

Three very different exhibition: Blue, a very Blimey exhibition, and Moya McKenna’s a body of content, arranged for melody.

Masculinity is not well defined in western 21st century culture compared to femininity. Masculinity is both feared and the subject for humor. There are no Departments of Masculinity Studies in any universities. Consider the number of exhibitions of all women artists to exhibitions of all men artists. Blue at Brunswick Arts is welcome change. Blue follows up on Brunswick Arts 2006 show of female artists – Pink. 

The theme of masculinity brought out some strong, aggressive, spectacular and funny works. I laughed when I saw Benjamin Webb’s ‘10 inches’, a tape measure in a phallic pose measuring ten inches; the best readymade I’ve seen this year. Webb’s hanging wax full body cast, ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ was not so funny. Alister Karl continues his wall drawing project with “Yellow Monster Truck Project #3”, the largest one yet. David Ramm has a very aggressive installation looking at challenging, fighting words. Dirtfish’s paintings are images of simple cartoon faces. His street art style translates well onto canvas with wonderfully distressed paintwork and tight cropping. Leon Hawker’s large looping collages are very intense, obsessive and beautiful creations – all very masculine qualities. James Wray’s series of photographs and installation takes an ironic look at hyper-masculinity. Wray’s masked wrestler is seen at home surrounded by 50s kitsch, a time when masculinity was better defined.

 

Ahoy me hearties there is ‘a very Blimey exhibition’ at 696. Pirates have an effervescent popularity (recently bubbling over with movies and merchandize) their free, anarchic spirit will always be attractive. ‘A very Blimey exhibition’ has illustrations from a number of artists for the piratical stories of Jo Spurling. Miss Blimey, a female pirate with eye patch and cutlass is the central character of the stories. There are excellent whimsical illustrations by a scurvy crew of artists: Jay Copp, Alan Kerr, Timba Smits, Martin Abel, HelloBard, Luke Feldman, Richard Adams and Jimmy Misanthrope. It is interesting to compare the styles and techniques of the different illustrators as they work on the same theme and characters. The exhibition is complete with t-shirts, magazines, badges and showbags.

 

Moya McKenna is exhibiting her contemporary still life painting at Neon Parc, There are no fruit nor flowers in these still life paintings but studio objects, a clutter of boxes and castes of arms. These are not precious nor over-worked still life paintings McKenna’s brushstrokes are strong and decisive. There are not many paintings in this exhibition, nor are they particularly large, but they all are of an equally high standard.


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