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Tag Archives: tattoos

More or Less Ephemeral

There are many new tattoo parlours in the northern suburbs and their presence has reminded me to write about the connection between tattoos and street art. Street art may be easier to remove or buff than a tattoo but that doesn’t make it ephemeral. Street artists may be realistic and stoic in the face of buffing or capping of their pieces. Some street art may not last that long but this is circumstantial and not an intrinsic quality and some pieces for years.

“Ephemeral”, “transitory”, “fad”, “fashion” are these words are applied to street art in the hope that it will all go away? Ephemeral means that it is lasting for only a short time; it was first used for plants or insects that live for only a short period of time, like mayflies. Collectors of ephemera collect items that were designed to be short-lived use like postage stamps, postcards, tickets and movie posters. Compared to the lifespan of these items street art is hardly ephemeral.

Phoenix, Less Ephemeral More Ephemeral

The transitory nature of street art is occasionally referred to in the art. Some street art is self-consciously designed to only last a short period of time, like Gav Barbey’s “Hate Love”, two coloured ice blocks melting in Hosier Lane. “Less/More Ephemeral” by Phoenix a series of letters that have been slowly wearing away on a wall in Little Lonsdale Street. These works are the street art equivalents of the auto-destructive art of Gustav Metzger or Jean Tinguely.

Lasting for years is hardly an ephemeral quality, more like an annual or biannual but not ephemeral. The people who object to graffiti do not consider the marks to be ephemeral but rather permanent. Street art may be one of the most permanent art movements, considering all the digital photographs of the street art preserved somewhere on a computer. And the street art style tattoos are permanent.

Ars langa, vita brevis (art is long, life is short) – Hippocrates

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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.


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