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MICHAEL

JOHNSON
AN ABSTRACT LIFE

Ah

XIAN
Guy

WARREN
Sarah

CONTOS
John

HONEYWILL
ISSUE 34
artistprofile.com.au

Vivienne

SHARK
LEWITT

GUY WARREN, Mother and Child (Bush Idyll), 2015, acrylic on canvas, 159 x 180cm

Guy Warren at 95: Genesis of an artist


Curated by Barry Pearce
15 April 29 May 2016

Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks, Sydney 2000


Open Tuesday Friday 11am-5pm (closed Monday and public holidays)
Info : 02) 9258 0173 www.shervingallery.com.au
Guy Warren is represented by OlsenIrwin Gallery, Sydney

Exhibition supported by

JAN SENBERGS
DRAWINGS
1 MARCH - 2 APRIL 2016

Predator, 1995 (detail), pastel and acrylic wash, 153 x 114.5cm

LOONGKOONAN
YIMADOOWARRA: ARTIST OF THE RIVER
PERTH 115 Hay Street Subiaco WA 6008 +61 8 9388 2899
art@mossensongalleries.com.au www.mossensongalleries.com.au

Glenn Barkley

Magic Object
2 danks street, waterloo nsw

2016 Adelaide Biennal of Australian Art

utopia art sydney

phil i p b acon
ga lle r i e s

SAM FULLBROOK Anemones in a porcelain bowl c.1976 oil on canvas 65.5 x 70.5 cm

Philip Bacon Galleries has a wide selection of 19th century,


20th century and contemporary Australian paintings, works on paper and sculpture.
Please visit our website for a comprehensive list of artists represented.

philipbacongalleries.com.au
2 ARTHUR STREET, FORTITUDE VALLEY, BRISBANE 10:00 AM 5:00 PM TUESDAY TO SATURDAY
TEL: 07 3358 3555 FAX: 07 3254 1412 EMAIL: ARTENQUIRIES @ PHILIPBACONGALLERIES.COM.AU

VIRGINIA CUPPAIDGE
Another Kind of Light

1 March - 26 March 2016


Opening Saturday 5 March, 3-5pm

Stella Downer Fine Art


Dealer, Consultant & Valuer
2 Danks Street Waterloo
T: 0402 018 283 E: info@stelladownerfineart.com.au
W: www.stelladownerfineart.com.au Tues - Sat 11am - 5pm
Stella Downer is a valuer for the Cultural Gifts Program

Virginia Cuppaidge, Pink Painted Field, 1979, crayon, gouache on paper, 35.5 x 41.9cm

Michael Johnson, Spiral VI, 1971, Lefranc Flash Vinylic on canvas, 183 x 179 cm

MICHAEL JOHNSON
Works from the 1960s-1980s
represented by Annette Larkin Fine Art

Annette Larkin Fine Art


Suite 4, 8 Soudan Lane
Paddington NSW 2021
t +61 2 9332 4614
e annette@annettelarkin.com
w annettelarkin.com

Robyn Burgess
& Heather Lyons
The Dressmaker & the Painter
13 April 29 May 2016

La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre


121 View Street, Bendigo, VIC, 3550
T: 03 5441 8724
E: vac@latrobe.edu.au
W: latrobe.edu.au/vac
Gallery hours: Tue - Fri 10am-5pm, Sat - Sun 12pm-5pm

Robyn Burgess and Heather Lyons, Girl with Cloud (detail),


2015, plaster, oil paint, resin, wire and fabric, 38 x 16 x 8cm.
Photograph by Gavin Hansford.

GEOFF TODD
BEAUTIFUL BEASTS
2ND MARCH 2ND APRIL

Hippocampoi, 122 x 213cm, acrylic, charcoal and metal leaf on canvas, (2015)

86 ARTHUR STREET, FORTITUDE VALLEY, BRISBANE, QLD 4006

P 07 3254 2297

F 07 3254 0646

WWW.MITCHELLFINEARTGALLERY.COM

GALLERY@MITCHELLFINEARTGALLERY.COM

Steve Lopes, OPEN CUT


1 - 22 March, PERTH CITY GALLERY

Johnny Romeo, WHEN WE RULED THE WORLD


14 March - 4 April, PERTH CITY GALLERY

Barrier Ranges, [detail], 2015, Oil on canvas, 70 x 80 cm

Steel Zeal, 2015, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm

Celia Perceval, SPIRIT OF THE BUSH II


31 March - 22 April, SUBIACO GALLERY

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, LOOKING GLASS


2 - 23 May, PERTH CITY GALLERY

Yellow Cockatoos above Centipede Gully, 2014 [detail], Oil on canvas, 120 x 180 cm

Skymirror, [detail], Laquer and stainless steel, 80 x 80 x 20 cm x 2

Perth
The Old Perth Technical School
Level 1 / 137 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
Telephone +61 8 6465 4314
perth@lintonandkay.com.au

Subiaco
299 Railway Road
(Corner Nicholson Road)
Subiaco WA 6008
Telephone +61 8 9388 3300
subiaco@lintonandkay.com.au

Mandoon
Estate Winery
10 Harris Road
Caversham WA 6055
Telephone +61 8 6465 4314
info@lintonandkay.com.au

lintonandkay.com.au

SUSAN NORRIE
FIELD WORK
2006 2016

A Vizard Foundation
Contemporary Artist Project

15 March to 26 June 2016


The Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne
Swanston Street, Parkville VIC

Tues Fri 10am 5pm, Sat & Sun 12 5pm


www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au
Follow us on Facebook

Susan Norrie (Australia, born 1953)


LUSI mud volcano, Porong, Sidoarjo,
East Java Indonesia 2015
video still
Courtesy of the artist

Contents
016

PROFILES

018

072

CONTRIBUTORS

EDITORS NOTE

issue

GUY WARREN
by Steve Lopes

080

VIRGINIA CUPPAIDGE
by Lucy Stranger

020

ROLE REVERSAL: ETHICAL


TRAPS WHEN CURATORS
BECOME ARTISTS
014

by Joe Frost

084

AH XIAN
by Michael Young

090

JOHN HONEYWILL

PROFILES
046

SARAH CONTOS
by Chloe Mandryk

052

by Owen Craven

098

TONY TWIGG
by Jeremy Eccles

102

JOHNNY ROMEO

GLENN BARKLEY
by Kon Gouriotis

PREVIEW
COVER FEATURE
056

MICHAEL JOHNSON
by Anna Johnson

107-146
108 The 20th Biennale of Sydney and the 2016
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, by Sara Sweet
116 Archive: Joy Hester: a recollection by Ken
Whisson, by Joe Frost
120 Preview: Jan Senbergs by Steve Lopes

PROFILES

124 Preview: John Beard by Kon Gouriotis


128 Preview: Euan Macleod by Kon Gouriotis

066

VIVIENNE SHARK LEWITT


by Lucy Stranger

132 Review: Mick Richards and Michael Aird:


Great Collaborations by Kon Gouriotis
136 Book Review: Modern Love by Judith Pugh
139 Subscriptions
140 Process: Paul Miller by Douglas Purnell
144 View Australia
146 Discovery: Yioryios

Contributors
THE AP TEAM
EDITOR
Kon Gouriotis
artistprole@nextmedia.com.au

ART DIRECTOR

is a Sydney-based arts writer and artist. She is


an Art Almanac Editorial Assistant.

NATIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER

TONY LOPES
is a commercial photographer and Euphoria
Photography Director, which specialises in
portraiture.

Kim Gregory
kgregory@nextmedia.com.au

JUDITH PUGH

WRITER

is a regional NSW based writer. She is


completingadoctoral thesis on Commonwealth
visual arts funding.

Lucy Stranger
artistprole@nextmedia.com.au

SARA SWEET

Jill Trochei
jtrochei@nextmedia.com.au
T +61 2 9901 6115

EDITORIAL AND ADVERTISING OFFICES


ARTIST PROFILE
Locked Bag 5555
St Leonards NSW 1590 Australia
T +61 2 9901 6345 F +61 2 9901 6116
artistprole@nextmedia.com.au
www.artistprole.com.au
Prepress Manager Jonathan Bishop
Production Manager Peter Ryman
Circulation Director Carole Jones

CHLOE MANDRYK
is a Sydney-based writer and curator. She is
theManager of the ARTAND Foundation, a
not-for-prot initiative supporting creative
practice in Australia.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Jamie McIlwraith

CONTRIBUTORS

DOUGLAS PURNELL

ARTIST PROFILE IS PUBLISHED BY

is a pastoral theologian, an artist and curator.


He curates each year a contemporary Stations
of the Cross exhibition and a Seasons of Birth
exhibition.

nextmedia Pty Ltd


Building A, Level 6, 207 Pacic Highway
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T +61 2 9901 6100
Chief Executive Ofcer David Gardiner
Commercial Director Bruce Duncan

SUB-EDITOR
016

JOE FROST
is a Sydney-based painter. He is a National Art
School Teacher.

ANNA JOHNSON
is an arts writer who contributes a monthly art
column for Australian House & Garden and
writes for Artist Prole.

www.mymagazines.com.au
Toll free within Australia: 1300 227 236
or +61 2 9901 6111
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Artist Profile is published by nextmedia Pty Ltd, ACN: 128 805


970, Level 6, Building A, 207 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW
2065 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may
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MICHAEL YOUNG
is a journalist and visual arts writer based in
Australia who regularly travels to China.

JEREMEY ECCLES
is a writer and broadcaster about the arts.
Over the spectrum of the arts, his speciality is
Indigenous art and culture.

LUCY STRANGER
is a Central West, NSW based arts journalist and
Artist Profile writer.

OWEN CRAVEN
is Curator at Urban Art Projects. He is a
former Editor of Artist Profile and Art Almanac
magazines.

Editorial contributions must be accompanied by return postage and will be handled with all reasonable care; the publisher
assumes no responsibility for the safety of artwork, photographs
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The late riser, 110 x 120cm, oil on canvas, 2016

S T E V E LO P E S

Stella Downer Fine Art


Dealer, Consultant & Valuer
2 Danks Street Waterloo

T H E L AT E R I S E R
5 - 30 April 2016

T: 0402 018 283 E: info@stelladownerfineart.com.au


W: www.stelladownerfineart.com.au Tues - Sat 11am - 5pm
Stella Downer is a valuer for the Cultural Gifts Program

artistprofile.com.au Editors Note

Editor's

NOTE
John Honeywill, Turkish delight II, 2013, oil on linen, 31 x 31cm. See page 90.

018

OPENING SOON is the 20th Biennale of Sydney, The Future is


Already Here Its Just Not Evenly Distributed. In this issue, Sara Sweet
previews the regions oldest and foremost curated international visual
art event as well as a nationally curated event Magic Object 2016, the
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. Already open is the Asia Pacic
Triennial of Contemporary Art, in Brisbane, the most original
international visual arts project focused on Asia and the Pacic. So in
2016, visitors to Australia and locals are being offered a remarkable
visual arts feast.
Artist Profile also takes a deep look at the life and works of Guy Warren,
one of Australias most respected and inspirational artists. A veteran
of the World War II New Guinea campaign, at 95 he is preparing for
a survey exhibition at Sydneys S.H. Ervin Gallery in April.
Our front cover artist is the masterful abstract painter Michael
Johnson. For this issue, the artist gave us studio access. His
daughter, arts writer Anna Johnson, reveals some of the misplaced
interpretations of colour in his abstractions. As a witness to his
paintings over 40 years, she avoids the impulse to clich and gives us
a memorable insight into the artist.
Before Sarah Contos goes to Adelaide to begin her Australian
Experimental Art Foundation residency/exhibition, Chloe Mandryk
asked the artist about her self-belief, audiences, Shakespearean ideas,
social anthropology, ufness and lots more.
Vivienne Shark LeWitt reveals to Lucy Stranger why the word
practice interests her. We nd out why she has become preoccupied
with writing and discover her methods to create innovatively witty
and emphatic narratives that often make one laugh.
Joe Frost examines the growing curator-artists model in our public
collecting institutions. In a different time and place, curators and
artists like Tony Tuckson and William Wright concealed their
paintings from public exhibition. Has an ethical line been crossed
today? In a separate article, for the Archive section, Joe talks with
artist Ken Whisson about his encounters with Joy Hester and her
husband Albert Tucker in the 1940s.

When Chinese-Australian artist Ah Xian returned to Australia,


Michael Young caught up with the artist to nd out about his latest
sculptures and the philosophy that leads to his innovation. The artist
discusses the difcult relationship he has with his former homeland of
China and questions his commercial gallery status. We also take a
close look at the coiled ceramics and collage works of Glenn Barkley
who is making big inroads as an artist as he prepares for Magic Object
in Adelaide, his rst major group exhibition.
Other prole articles include Jeremy Eccles story on artist Tony
Twiggs survey at Annandale Galleries, his rst exhibition in Sydney
since 2011. New York based Queensland expatriate Virginia
Cuppaidges early works will be at Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney.
Brisbane-based high school visual arts teacher John Honeywill talks
to Owen Craven about still-life painting, and Johnny Romeo speaks
about his ideas and the methods of his Pop cultural paintings.
There are exclusive previews of Jan Senbergs major retrospective
exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Ian Potter Centre in
March. John Beard is about to present his 500 x 700cm amazing
repainting of Thodore Gricaults The Raft of the Medusa at
William Wright Artist Projects in March; we discuss with him the act
of painting and the challenge of constructing a vast painting. We also
speak to Euan Macleod about his extraordinary Boneyard exhibition
in April at Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.
We review the This is my Heritage exhibition at the Queensland
Museum and celebrate more than 25 years of collaboration by Mick
Richards and Michael Aird in producing and presenting exhibitions,
lms and conferences. Judith Pugh reviews the book Modern Love: the
Lives of John & Sunday Reed written by Heide curators Lesley Harding
and Kendrah Morgan.
After all the gathered experiences for this issue are read, we hope you
will share in these discussions to deepen the understanding of the
contributions that artists make.
Kon Gouriotis
www.artistprofile.com.au

Kevin Lincoln

An Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition

The eyes mind

This exhibition surveys the career of contemporary Australian artist


Kevin Lincoln, focussing on the evolution of over some twenty-ive
years of mature and critically acclaimed work, from around 1990 to
the present.

Sat 23 Apr Sun 19 Jun

Image: Kevin Lincoln Self portrait in mauve shirt (detail) 2008, oil on canvas, Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat,
Kevin Lincoln / licensed by Viscopy, 2016

artgalleryofballarat.com.au

020

01

ROLE
REVERSAL:
ethical traps when curators become artists
WORDS JOE FROST

IT HAS OFTEN OCCURRED in the


history of art that when the vested interests
propping up high reputations have fallen
away, other gures from the periphery have
risen. Even inside the days of our posteverything epoch, when success goes to those
who demand it as often as those who deserve
it, the longer reckoning known as posterity
inserts itself into our consciousness as old
images overpower new ones, and we wonder
what the museum of the future will retain
from our creations.

If the museum continues to be posteritys


place of residence, the curator must be its
host, with responsibilities that are not to be
taken lightly. Although the inuence of
curators has shaped the corpus and coloured
the marrow of contemporary art, their
authority still derives from the traditional
idea that they are detached observers,
maintaining a critical distance from the ideas
or objects they examine and judging without
self-interest. Which may explain why people
are watching closely as a number of
prominent local curators are now establishing

careers as artists, and the curator-as-artist


becomes a familiar, little-questioned
phenomenon of the art world.
A gradual levelling of the playing eld
between curators and artists in recent
decades has seen curators gain
unprecedented power to make and forsake
artists, and artists taking to casual
curatorship as an act of self-preservation.
Butwhile the rise of the artist-as-curator has
brought many illuminating exhibitions and
insights from close to the creative source, and

ISSUE Curators becoming artists

Questions on the ethics of a


curator doubling as an artist
lack a forum in which to be
aired and clearly answered,
because curatorial processes
have always been conducted
like acts of secret magic
behind closed doors.
02

021

03

artists return to the studio after these


excursions as reliably as a bear turns in for
the winter, can we extrapolate that curatorsas-artists will enhance the culture? As I
picture a curator on the cusp of coming out
as an artist, going with a ow that may
hitherto have run through them as a silent
undercurrent, I have trouble reconciling
between the sense of abandon I would like
toimagine them experiencing, and the cold
hard facts that:
A. They may, and do, embark on their art
careers while hanging on to positions of
curatorial inuence, and
B. They enjoy career advancement based on
networks developed through their jobs as
curators, while many artists who have
worked with distinction for a very long time,
but simply dont appeal to prevailing
curatorial tastes, are still way off the radar.
Questions on the ethics of a curator doubling
as an artist lack a forum in which to be aired
and clearly answered, because curatorial
processes in our museums and art
organisations have always been conducted

like acts of secret magic behind closed doors.


State galleries, the Australia Council and
NAVA all have codes of conduct that any
member of the public can read, but they were
written before curators and artists drifted
into role-blur, and provide only general
advice that employees should absent
themselves from decisions that could directly
benet them. I can only presume that a
curator-artist could not or would not try to
rig the system to see a piece of their own
work acquired or selected for an important
exhibition (surely not..?) but that doesnt
mean the rise of the curator-as-artist wont
insidiously inuence the commerce of the art
world in other ways.
Picture just one scenario. Jason is a curator
who has established himself working in
various public institutions and continues to
hold down curatorial jobs even though he is
now in the early years of his career as an
artist. He is engaged as a curator to purchase
work for a signicant private collection,
making the nal selection from a group of
works pre-selected by a separate panel. On

arriving, he nds that one of the works is by


Fuzz, an artist and occasional curator who
recently invited him to contribute work to an
upcoming exhibition, an opportunity that
Jason accepted. In this situation the
appearance of compromise will mar whatever
decision he makes. If he selects Fuzzs work
he opens himself to charges of nepotism. If
he doesnt choose Fuzz the question will
linger as to whether that work could actually
have been a good choice, but a choice he
couldnt make because of their friendship. In
either case, Jasons involvement in the scene
as an artist has gotten in the way of a clean,
effective performance of his curatorial role.
Its true that the mechanisms of the art world
have always been greased by friendship and

01
02
03

Tony Tuckson, TP 261, 1954-57, oil on canvas, 39 x


62cm (irregular), detail
Tony Tuckson with Frank Watters in his studio, 1970
Tony Tuckson, TP 196, 1970-73, acrylic on hardboard
123 x 245cm

04

07

mutual interest, and yet charges of


favouritism rarely stick because aesthetic
judgment is essentially an expression of
personal preference anyway. There is a
longhistory of curators buddying-up with
their favourite artists. Does the fact that
somecurators also play the artist card really
change anything?

022

05

It does, because curators who fancy


themselves as artists and artists who dabble
as curators now meet on an entirely level
plane, with something tangible to offer each
other. Opportunities for mutual ingratiation
will increase across a range of institutional
and private contexts, and in the absence of
any kind of monitoring individuals will be
free to behave however they like. We may
well look back and say that the emergence of
the curator-as-artist marked a new
deterioration of one of the essential elements
of good curatorship: disinterested judgment.

06

We are fortunate to have, within living


memory, the example of at least one local
curator who put personal ambition as an
artist aside to preserve that detachment. In
keeping his work as a painter private during
a highly productive career as a curator, Tony
Tuckson demonstrated the redeeming force
of private morality in an art world where
ethical guidelines are weakly drawn. He was
also a major artist.

In keeping his work as a


painter private during his
career as a curator, Tony
Tuckson demonstrated the
redeeming force of private
morality in an art world
where ethical guidelines
areweakly drawn.

you and bad for me or vice versa, theres a


more important question of whether its
morally sound, and on this score its not
hard to see the damage curator-artists could
do to the professional integrity of
curatorship.

04
05

It will be intriguing to see whether curatorsas-artists will open the door for artists who
have never been within coo-ee of curatorial
attention or simply re-inforce the inner
circles of institutional favour. But putting
aside the question of whether this
development in our cultural life is good for

06
06

Left, Colin Lanceley, Kay Lanceley, William Wright


and Mark Hughes, Art Gallery of NSW, 1987
William Wright, PRINCIP III, 2008, acrylic/mixed media
on plywood panel, 148 x 169cm
William Wright, D.H.K, 2008, acrylic/mixed media on
plywood panel 196 x 244cm
Tony Tuckson sorting paintings for the Wynne Prize
with Hal Missingham, at the Art Gallery of NSW,

Courtesy the artists, Watters Gallery, Sydney;


WilliamWrightArtistsProjects, Sydney;
and ANU Gallery, Canberra.

Painting
19 March 9 April 2016
Deiance Gallery at the Yellow House
5759 Macleay St, Potts Point
Works on paper
630 April 2016
Deiance Gallery, Newtown

ANN THOMSON

Est.1995

DEFIANCE GALLERY
DEFIANCE SCULPTURE PARK
47 Enmore Road, Newtown, NSW 2042
Directors: Campbell Robertson-Swann and Lauren Harvey
T (02) 9557 8483 / www.deiancegallery.com

Scalene
10 March - 24 March 2016
Maximilian Daniels
Nik Uzunovski
Caleb Reid

Opening night 6-10pm


Thursday 10 March 2016, at Piermarq
rsvp@piermarq.com.au T 02 9660 7799

Maximilian Daniels, Sail Study #2, 152 x 152 cm, Acrylic and oil on canvas

T +61 2 9660 7799


info@piermarq.com.au www.piermarq.com.au
76 PADDINGTON ST PADDINGTON NSW 2021

PIERMARQ
*
GALLERY

ANNETTE BEZOR
PRECIOUS LUCK
2 April - 23 April 2016

Baby Blues oil on canvas 165 x 165 cm (detail)

113 Pirie Street, Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8223 6558 | hsg@hillsmithgallery.com.au | www.hillsmithgallery.com.au

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KEN DONE

Swimming in Jellyfish Lake, 2013, oil and acrylic on linen, 152 x 183cm.

1-5 Hickson Road, The Rocks, Sydney, tel 02 8274 4599 www.kendone.com

Cootapatamba Lake Oil on Linen 1220 x 1525 mm

SPALDING

9 March - 2 April 2016

GESUNDHEIT

GESUNDHEIT

1/52-54 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst NSW 02 93681142 mail@stanleystreetgallery.com.au stanleystreetgallery.com.au

Nice Owl acrylic, charcoal on canvas 121 x 137 cm

KARLEE RAWKINS
Lucky Catch

February 27 - March 12, 2016


Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, QLD 4217 Phone: 07 55611166 www.antheapolsonart.com.au

Just Draw

TONY TWIGG

ANNANDALE GALLERIES
110 Trafalgar Street Annandale Sydney NSW 2038 Australia T (61-2) 9552 1699 F (61-2) 9552 4424 annangal@ozemail.com.au
www.annandalegalleries.com.au Gallery Hours Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 - 5:00 pm Directors Anne & Bill Gregory ACGA

ROSEMARY VALADON: A SENSUAL WORLD


1 APRIL 8 MAY 2016
BATHURST REGIONAL ART GALLERY | 70-78 Keppel St, Bathurst, NSW 2795 | (02) 6333 6555 | www.bathurstart.com.au |
IMAGE: Rosemary Valadon Rosemarys Garden Autumn Harvest (detail), 2014. Courtesy of the artist

5 sticks in 3 places there not there and on the way 89 x 210cm 2015

Moonbathing: Opening March 9

Gippsland
Art Gallery

THE HUMAN CONDITION


CHRIS ANTICO
Exhibition launch with the Artist
To be opened by Nick Vickers
Independent Curator/Co-ordinator Alumni
Relations, UNSW Art & Design
OPENING
Wednesday 9th March 2016 - 6pm to 8pm
EXHIBITION
Tuesday 8th March - Saturday 19th March 2016
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Sat 11am 5pm
The Depot Gallery 2 Danks Street Waterloo NSW 2017
MARLENE ANTICO FINE ART CONSULTANT
www.marleneantico.com.au info@marleneantico.com.au
0418 167 135
02 9362 0282

the song that did not want, 2014

183 x 168 cm

mixed media on linen

The Mystery of Things


Margaret Olley & David Strachan
13 February 7 August 2016
Margaret Olley Art Centre
Murwillumbah, Northern NSW
The mystery of things explores the connection in art and
life between two Australian painters, Margaret Olley and
David Strachan, via their shared dedication to the genre of
still life painting.
Margaret Olley 1923 2011, Hawkesbury wildflowers with lemons (detail) 1971
oil on board 101.5 x 83.5cm, Ludowici Family The Margaret Olley Estate

Open 10am 5pm (DST) Wednesday to Sunday Free admission.


P: 02 6670 2790
F: 02 6670 2797

Publication Sponsor

E: tweedart@tweed.nsw.gov.au
W: artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au

Accommodation Sponsor

PO Box 816 (2 Mistral Road)


Murwillumbah South NSW 2484

Exhibition Flower Sponsor

MOAC Flower Sponsor

Georgie Taylor
byronflowerista@gmail.com

BEST

SHOW

IN

Dogs in Australian Art

9 April - 3 July 2016


www.org.nsw.gov.au

149 Byng Street (PO Box 35) Orange NSW 2800

T (02)6393 8136

Open: 10am to 4pm daily. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day & Good Friday.
Image: Tim Storrier, Smudge (detail), 2010, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

NSPP
National Self-Portrait Prize

Fiona McMonagle
Winner of the National Self-Portrait Prize 2015

14 November 2015 13 March 2016


Fiona McMonagle One hundred days at 7pm 2015 (still). Single-channel video animation. Animator and videographer: Declan McMonagle. Courtesy of the artist; Heiser Gallery, Brisbane; and Olsen Irwin, Sydney.

University Drive, St Lucia


07 3365 3046
www.artmuseum.uq.edu.au
Open daily 10.00 am 4.00 pm

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Adelaide Perry
Prize for Drawing
Exhibition of Finalists 2016
27 February - 25 March
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www.plc.nsw.edu.au/microsites

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Analaproudly
Artpresents.
Advisory
KellyAnne Love The Australiana Tattoo Series

Exhibition Title
The Australiana
Tattoo Series
Exhibited at
Project 504,
65 Berry Street,
North Sydney
Opening night
Thursday,
10th of March
Time
6-8pm
Exhibition on
show from the
10th March
25th March 2016

Title Dame Edna


Size 76x56cm
Medium Watercolour

Business information Anala Art Advisory Phone - 0452586448


Email info@analaartadvisory.com.au Web www.analaartadvisory.com.au

CAROLINE
RANNERSBERGER
SENTIMENT AND
SEDIMENTATION
16 March - 10 April 2016
Neck on site 21215 I-VI; And then there is the presence of the
land itself, the basic foundation, so low that it makes no noise
but its existence is undeniable and therefore it also factors in on
this spectrum. On the dark end...the black and white showing
both ends of the spectrum, and the sepia mid tones balancing
out the range 2015
ink, acrylic on 640gsm arches paper
6 panels, each 76cmx56cm

LEVEL 1 15 CASTRAY ESP


HOBART TAS 7000
hobart@despard-gallery.com.au
www.despard-gallery.com.au
03 62 238266

THE 64th

BLAKE @PRIZE
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
Exhibition 13 February - 24 April 2016
The Blake Prize is one of
Australias longest standing and
most historically signicant art
prizes. It is an opportunity for
contemporary emerging, established
and self-taught artists to engage
in conversations related to religion
and spirituality. The 64th Blake
Prize celebrates the diversity and
aesthetic practices related to belief
and non-belief within communities
across Australia and internationally.

CASULA POWERHOUSE ARTS CENTRE


1 Powerhouse Rd, Casula
(Enter via Shepherd Street, Liverpool)

www.casulapowerhouse.com

Artist (from left to right, top to bottom)


Cigdem Aydemir, David Frank, Robert Hauge, Laim Benson,
Tom Lawford, Fassih Kesio, Shannon Johnson, Valerio Ciccone.

Jodi Daley & Badger Bates, Cailin & Tunjili - Steamers Point, Wilcannia3LJPHQW2LO3DLQW 6WHHO:LQQHUVRIWKHUVWSUL]H2XWEDFN2SHQ$UW3UL]H

2016 Pro Hart Outback Art Prize


Formerly the Outback Open Art Prize, the Pro Hart Outback Art Prize
KDVDWRWDOSUL]HSRRORILQFOXGLQJWKHDFTXLVLWLYHUVWSUL]HRI

Entries are open from Australian artists to submit works in any


media that depicts or supports the theme of the Outback.
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Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery


404-408 Argent Street | Broken Hill
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Curated by Cecilia Heffer

Wangarratta Regional Gallery, NSW


30 January13 March 2016
Craft ACT: Craft & Design Centre, ACT
7 April15 May 2016
Wollongong City Gallery, NSW
28 May28 August 2016
Glasshouse Regional Gallery, NSW
3 September30 October 2016
http://2ndtamworthtextiletriennial.com/

Artists images: Jemima Parker, Kath Inglis, Sandy Elverd,


Alana Clifton-Cunningham, Anita Larkin, Erica Gray

466 Peel Street Tamworth


T 02 6767 5248
E gallery@tamworth.nsw.gov.au
www.tamworthregionalgallery.com.au
This project has been assisted
by the Australian Government
through the Ministry for the Arts
Visions of Australia program.

6 February to 19 March 2016


Drawing Room
Curated by Jelle van den Berg

2nd
Tamworth
Textile
Triennial
2014

GROUP

exchange
29 March to 4 June 2016
Vivian Chan Shaw 40 Years
A Retrospective

Operation Art
29 March to 14 May 2016
466 Peel Street Tamworth NSW, 02 6767 5248.
Open Tue - Fri 10am - 5pm, Sat 10am - 4pm
Closed Sunday, Monday & Public Holidays.
www.tamworthregionalgallery.com.au

Images left: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled (awelye), (detail) 1995.


Photograpghy utopia art sydney. Above: Vivian Chan Shaw Lucinda bolera,
top & skirt,(detail) 1996, Image Vivian Chan Shaw Right: Housetastic (detail)
2015, Tiarna Harrison aged 10 Somerton Public School. Image Operation Art.

046

PROFILE Sarah Contos

Sarah
Contos
STORY CHLOE MANDRYK

Unpredictability and ambiguity have become


the creative drivers of Sarah Contos art-making,
as she likes to go with the flow of how she is
feeling and thinking when she embarks on each
very different project. Her core interests might
revolve around identity, eroticism, femininity,
popular culture and history, but Australian
Experimental Art Foundation patrons this year
should simply expect the unexpected.

You mentioned how important it was that you were understood,


which is, I believe, something we all want. How does that
translate to the work that you make? Are you in a process of
understanding yourself, or trying to raise your voice and tell
people what youre about?
Theres one side that I know what I want to make, whether thats
inspired from personal experience or emotion or memory. But then
there is another side that occurs through process. Ill be making
something with a definite intention and then it starts to become
something else. Or I have no idea of what I am making I am just
doing and then it reveals itself and I go Oh hello, thats what Im
trying to do! I work on lots of things at one given time, so if Im not
clear on one thing Ill move onto the next and that will inform what is
happening there. My hands are like my heart and head all in one.
So, do you begin with a point of reference that is personal, and
that becomes part of a bigger picture?
Yes, I take on lots of things I am interested by, like a colour or form
or artist and Ill compile a folder on my laptop. Its a whole mishmash of stuff and then from that something will start to emerge. Also,
it depends on how Im feeling, so if Im down and out what Ill gather
might be a bit dark. Or it could be if I want something; for example
in the last show Total Control (2015) at Roslyn Oxley9, was very

Sarah Contos in her studio, photographer Jessica Maurer

047

much about creating works centred around ideas of entertaining and


wanting to hold dinner parties or having a cat or garden because in
my life I did not have any of those things. If I cant have it in real life
then Ill make it. Its always from me, but hopefully the ambiguities
will resonate with the viewer or it might bring up feelings of nostalgia
or sentimentality, remind them of their grandmas house. I like to have
that emotional connection.
So less of a process of self-understanding but instead of living outside
of yourself?
No, there is always self-reflection happening but there is also a
constructed personality that sometimes I use to hide behind. Im a
different person for each show and a part of my process is similar to
how a fashion designer creates a different story for each collection.
They have a particular person in mind who they design the clothes
for I do the same but sometimes Im creating work for perhaps my
alter ego, from my alter ego.
Where does the audience t in terms of that, not to be critical
butits quite a self-involved process where you are reecting
heavily on what it is you want to present. How do you think
about the audience?
I like to keep it ambiguous. I think its through material and form and
the different processes and I know that comes from me, but I like
to think that its ambiguous enough that someone else can look at it
and think, Oh this reminds me of this particular moment from my
past or a dream I once had. I think thats really interesting because
thats not what my intent was or how I saw it. I dont put my face in
my work. It is not necessarily about me, but about an archetype or a
persona that everyone has in them. Everyone wants certain things in
life or to be able to do this or that, but not everyone can. I dont think
my work is narcissistic. If you read Shakespeare it can be interpreted
in so many ways and has been for hundreds of years, words redefined
given time, space and context.
048

There are many loaded terms which are put on your work,
bywriters and audiences, the idea of the other, ethnicity,
gender, worship some big canons of thought. Does this
connect to that Shakespearean idea that to speak universally
ithelps to be specic and have themes within your work?
How do you feel about that?
I just make stuff that I am interested in. It might be sparked from a
photograph or a conversation for example about how the colour
yellow wrecks everything in graphic design and then Ill be inspired
to make a sculpture that is only yellow made from yellow things. My
core interests revolve around identity, eroticism, femininity, popular
culture, history but my position on these constantly shift.
Are you collecting symbols through a lens of a cultural or social
anthropologist? Do you group signs together to comment on one
thing, like the 70s housewife or sex and fetish?
Yeah kinda. Its more like I am compiling stuff to add to my lexicon
or materiality language. The PVC or rubber can be seen as having
a BDSM feel, which there is, but at the same time it reminds me of
playground equipment. I love the duality of the dark and sinister
alongside the innocence of play and fun. In Kings Cross theres a
playground that looks like a sex-swing its great and confusing. I like
how one material can be seen in lots of different ways. And when you
add colour or object or material how does that conversation change,
where is the balance? Its kind of like cooking, different ingredients
together will generate a particular taste, and then how does that
change with a little squeeze of lemon at the end? Its taking things
from multiple sources and collaging them together and then seeing
what happens what is it saying? What does it taste like? The theatre
of space also aligns with my work. The recent show with Roslyn
Oxley9 was designed in such a way that as you entered up the stairs
the walls were dimly lit and the first impression was emptiness and a
bit uninviting, until you turned the corner and saw the warm lights
of the sculptures and the glow of the textiles. It creates drama where
everything has its rightful place to evoke something.
Its more about impulse, desire and attraction?
And intuition and play and process.

01

The PVC or rubber can be seen as having a


BDSM feel, which there is, but at the same
time it reminds me of playground equipment.
I love the duality of the dark and sinister
alongside the innocence of play and fun.

So what kind of position does that put you in, if youre not
attracted to something for a while?
I have to step away from it and press reset on my brain button.
Can you pinpoint why it is you are compelled to do what you do?
I love making and playing in the studio: when you are in that zone
and everything is coming together and its buzzing it is the best
feeling ever. I really put a lot of energy and emotion into what I do
so theres always a swinging range of feelings swirling about in the
studio. It must be annoying to my studio buddies as one minute Im
clapping my hands and punching the air with excitement and the next
Im weeping into my cuppa soup. This is why after each show I get
the post show blues quite bad. Its because Im not making or that
relationship with the work and high energy time is over. I feel a bit
lost, like Ive lost my lover or best friend.
Why do you think sewing, ceramics and the ad hoc crafty
approaches to making are popular?
Because people miss that in some ways. Theres a tactility we respond
to on a base level because theyve either done it in school or someone
they know has made them something from a bit of clay and felt. So
theres a sentimentality and power within the object. I also like the
idea of scrap-books, dcoupage and papier-mch are a bit daggy or
perceived as kindergarten medium or old lady-ish. Im interested in
how that responds to art-making in these techno-heavy and polished
contemporary times. I also think play is really underrated. When I
was super young I use to try to make perfume by crushing rose petals
in water and letting them sit in a pickle jar in the sun waiting for it to
magically turn into perfume. It always smelled bad. The result isnt

PROFILE Sarah Contos


049

02

perfume its the act of trying to manifest something through the


basics to create something wonderful.
And also in play you introduce the possibility of failure. Not
everyone is happy to fail.
Failure is great though. Thats where the good things happen.
Youcome up with something new and break that cycle of repetition.
Happy mistakes is the universe interjecting.
Do you have an idea of what thread you will carry through the
Australian Experimental Art Foundation show?
Im still working that out! Im currently creating a series of low-
animations of stills Ive collected from banal books from my own
collection and the local library and then juxtaposing these against
sculptural objects or textile backdrops. Its about how the animate
and non-animate communicate and what conversations they may
be having. So at the moment there is a lot of imagery from silent
movie actress, rock formations, epic lms from the 1970s, ower
arrangements, sunsets, cats basically a collection of disjointed
images that will sit alongside further disjointed forms. Im really
excited about it as it is a project show and means I can really play

01
02
03
03

Just You and Me Dancing, 2015, glazed earthenware, light globes and ixtures, vinyl,
poly-il, faux pearls, found ceramic boot and thread, 76 94 27cm
Total Control, 2015, screen print on linen, various fabrics, poly-il, PVC, acrylic, spray
paint and thread, 173 275 5cm
Luxury Constraints, 2015, collaged screen print on linen, chains, copper, PVC and
thread, 135 130 6cm

04

with the space and try out lots of new things I havent had the time to
up to this point. Its going to be seductive and shiny and optimistic.

050

If you had the opportunity to realise your ideas in a grander, more


finished way, would you?
It would lose the punch of the heart. Its the sentimentality that I like,
the old t-shirt that you bring out of the drawer that has a resonance.
Its also how screen-printing has that resonance compared to say
digital printing. It raises the probability of feeling a sense of dj vu
or a dream state. And I like to make things myself. I have had pieces
manufactured before and it takes me a while to form a relationship
with them. That being said, if I had the means to level up with some
sexy new materials I would. They would just be another conversation
in the process.
I can see how it would be upsetting for people to think that you
are being didactic about something such as ethnography, gender or
feminism, because its the antithesis of what youre doing.
Im not in a position to have a stance on anything and I prefer for
my work to not have this great big important message. Im not into
creating any work that has a political agenda, and Im not interested
in making work to speak on behalf of anyone else. Im more
interested in the primal emotions evoked and how people respond to
it on a base level. I like art that makes you feel first and think after.
Is a democratic appreciation of your subjects and the audience
experience not limited to a pre-determined group important?
I like contradictions, so a bit of bogan culture with craft, a bit of
quilting with some S&M suggestions. I like things that are hard and
soft and the gap between those.
Why are you drawn to that alchemy?
Because everyone is good and bad. You love and you hate. I like
dualities together.
It is easier to express the dark side of human nature if you can
balance it with something frivolous, fluffy or popular.
Yes, because it makes it more complex and complex, things are
intriguing and dramatic and dangerous. I love that through art, I can
express this duality of emotions through materials rubber with a
soft quilted cotton and a splash of bright yellow I think works.
Theres a rebelliousness, allowing that motley set of materials to
co-exist. Its not prescriptive and your category broadens.
Ive always wanted to be the kind of artist whose works look like they
were made by different people and ideally that you couldnt tell if it

05

was a male or female making the work. Although Im actually not that
kind of artist and you can definitely tell that one person made all the
particular works in the show! And that there is a strong yet vulnerable
femininity inherent in the things I create. I love how contrasting
materials develop a harmony between themselves and I think those
relationships are exciting.
Are you inhabiting your space as an artist now? If youre always
thinking about being onto the next, your next project or idea, do
you think about yourself in this way as well?
I think about it all the time: who I am and what Im interested in
saying for this particular show. Its a thread that keeps weaving its
way through. I was listening to Nirvana and was thinking of this in the
art I want to make. I want it to be angsty, poppy, heavy, soft, familiar
and empathetic. I want to be honest in making work about where
I am in this moment in time but I also need to keep that childlike
fascination with objects alive, and keep playing and experimenting
and creating stories in my head of what this form is saying to that
form. To keep those both sides of my personality happy and fed, keeps
the art-making process fresh and pleasurable and therefore life: lovely.
EXHIBITION
Small Optical Tautologies
15 April 21 May
Australian Experimental Art Foundation
aeaf.org.au
Sarah Contos is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
www.sarahcontos.com.au
www.roslynoxley9.com.au
04
05

Total Control, installation view


Strawberry Milk With Vodka, 2015, screen print on linen, neon, transformer, leather,
hardwares, chain, steel, artists jumper, wool and thread, 172 100 8cm

Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9

BLACK HARVEST
Peter Tilley and Andy Devine
23 April to 5 June 2016
t^DE^t
d&t 



Glenn Barkley
STORY KON GOURIOTIS

052

Back in 2014 when Glenn Barkley announced his well-managed


departure as Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art: Australia
(MCA), it came as a disappointing surprise to many, as he was the
artists much-loved champion in that institution. It now seems a long
time ago, as he prepares for his first major group exhibition, this time as
an artist, and for the 2016 Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art. His
motivating passion effortlessly flows between visual arts, horticulture and
literary histories. Topped with Barkleys independent curatorial role and
his growing passion to work in ceramics, it is a propitious time to chat
with him and enjoy some surprising discoveries.

01
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01

Large pot in the Iznik style, 2015, earthenware and


synthetic polymer paint, 50 x 19cm
Glenn Barkley with John Havilah, Pot in the Korean
style, 2015, stoneware and slip, 23.5 x 23.5 x 16cm
Small bowl with garden and stones, 2015,
earthenware and stoneware, 11 x 14 x 14cm
Large bowl with garden and stones, 2015,
earthenware and stoneware, 11 x 18 x 17cm
Extruded bowl, 2015, stoneware, 9 x 29.5cm
Melancholic bottle (for LH), 2015, earthenware and
slip, 33 x 22 x 19cm
Glenn Barkley with John Havilah and Lyn Havilah,
Bellarmine with eyeball and flowers, 2015, stoneware,
enamel and synthetic polymer paint, 48 x 28cm
Haemorrhoidal Love Token pot, 2015, earthenware,
slip, terra sigilata and glaze, 52 x 25cm

PROFILE Glenn Barkley


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LETS GO TO ADELAIDE FIRST.


In our mind?
Yes! In our minds we shall visualise. Lisa Slade is curating you with
other Australian artists in the 2016 Adelaide Biennale of Australian
Art: Magic Object, involving all the visual art forms. Youre driving
aresurgence in Australian ceramics with other ceramicists. What
does it mean to you to be curated for the rst time outside the form
of ceramics?
Firstly, I cant believe Im in the show. And the second part of that is I
cant believe Im in a show with Gareth Sansom, who I think is one of
the greatest artists Australia has ever produced. I think Lisa Slade has
taken a risk with me, because I am, as she describes me, an insideroutsider, which is how I feel. Up until ve years ago ceramics would
rarely have been seen in a contemporary art context. It so happens that
theres a group of people in this exhibition who are working in
ceramics.Theres myself, Juz Kitson, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran,
Pepai Carroll and Bluey Roberts.
Is it a moment for ceramics?
Ceramics is having a moment, thats undeniable. But the hope is, when
that moment nishes, therell be a group of people still standing, and
then itll also make curators look at what else is happening and who is
doing and has been doing great things. So I think in this rush, its
picking up the new and whats happening now with younger artists.
Itsalso about looking back to the people whove come before, like
Lynda Draper, Jenny Orchard, Peter Cooley, Toni Warburton and
Kirsten Coelho, to name just a few. I would say, You know what?
Theres a whole body of work being made, and has been made that
deserves a place in a contemporary art gallery. It doesnt need to be
ostracised, it needs to be in the gallery where people can see ceramics
within the context of contemporary art.
So contemporary art should be all-encompassing?
Im not interested in this idea of whats contemporary, whats folk, what
craft is and whats outsider. Its all contemporary art because its being
made now, as are things that were made in the past, which is why
ceramics appeals to me. I think the term contemporary art is very limiting
and often determined by who you show with as much as what you
make. One can look at a pot that was made 2000 years ago, and thats
acontemporary piece of art because it exists now. It doesnt exist in a
vacuum, it didnt exist in that moment and then disappear, its still here.

054

09

How has being a curator at the MCA helped your development as a


ceramicist?
Im not nave enough to be unaware that my position as a curator has
helped my career as a potter. There are a number of things that I think
as curator that has served me really well but the major one is the idea of
looking. I think if you want to be an artist, you need to look, and look
all the time. There may be times in your life when you dont look, you
just make, but you need to have a visual knowledge. Twenty years of
curating has probably given me a heightened visual knowledge. But
you still have to make the work!
What have you learnt from your self-initiated education in the
history of ceramics?
Ceramics is constantly eating into itself. You can burrow down into the
history; its almost what the language of ceramics is about. Ceramics
history is always informed by what came before, and one culture
looking at another to take elements of what they need, then that being
adapted by someone else. The history of Chinese ceramics going to
Europe, and then European ceramics going back to China, and then
the Japanese aesthetic inuencing the English, and that inuencing
Australia. It all seeps out of ceramics histories for one to dig through,
like a garbage dump. So if you look at my work there are those
references to the history of ceramics within it. So theres a reference
toa particular Korean form called the Moon Pot. Theres the inuence
of British slipware. Theres the inuence of Chinese and Japanese
ceramics. Then theres the inuence from the beginning of European
porcelain, like Chelsea.
10

PROFILE Glenn Barkley

I try to imagine if worms were to build


temples, what would they build, what
would a worm temple look like?

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055

What are you thinking of presenting to Adelaide?


Im constructing an installation based on the curatorial interest in
Kunstkabinett or Cabinets of Curiosities. Im interested in
Kunstkabinett as well. Its a museum model of everything rather than
strictly geological or botanical or whatever. Its one of those kooky
collections where everything is in there. One famous collection was
established by Ole Worm, better known as Olaus Wormius, who lived
in the 17th century. Ive taken his idea and turned it into the Museum
of the Worm. So Im building a space, which is very loosely based on
the Kunstkabinett. Then I also started thinking about the garden and
how important worms are to the garden. I try to imagine if worms were
to build temples, what would they build, what would a worm temple
look like? The other thing I started to think about is that worms are
like the self-extruders, in the same way that an artist might be. When
you read and you look at history and look at objects, and you go to
museums and you look at ceramics, all this passes through you into the
work, in the same way as the worm passes molecules and wastes
through its body. Weird as it sounds, thats the same way the ceramicist
works, well at least how I work.
So itll be a total environment installation?
Its an enclosed space, where one will step into the gallerys ground
floor area. Its going to be quite intense. To me, itll look like this fecund
garden, which has grown up in the middle of the space that just
happens to be made out of ceramics. So Im constructing a table and all
parts of the table are made of ceramics. On top of that is a wooden base
with more stacked ceramics. So its ceramics on ceramics. The walls
will be covered in tokens and writings, all made out of ceramics as well.
I think its quite ambitious. A lot of it is self-referential, coding within
pots that relate directly to my life, in particular, my relationship with
my wife and her family, and the garden in Berry (NSW). Also, there
are all these hidden things in there, some of which people will be able to
pick up on, but others will be somewhat secret and personal to me. Ive
invested a lot of myself into this work. If it doesnt have that emotional
drive, I dont know why one would bother to make it.

13

09
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Glenn Barkley with Lyn Havilah, Carbuncle pot with drooping poly, 2015, stoneware
and terra sigillata, 25 x 13 x 15cm
Iznik Ignatz Potz, 2015, earthenware, 7 pieces, various sizes, installation dimensions
variable
Glenn Barkley in his studio at kil.n.it, Glebe, Sydney. Photographer Document
Photography
Small ancient pot with piercings and frog spawn, 2015, collage, ink and synthetic
polymer paint on paper, 12 x 12cm
Attic vase with golden shower and green dotz, 2015, collage and synthetic
polymer paint on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Courtesy the artist and Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney

056

MICHAEL

JOHNSON
STORY ANNA JOHNSON
PHOTOGRAPHER TONY LOPES

PROFILE Michael Johnson


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ARTIST PROFILE celebrates the masterful Australian abstractionist painter,


Michael Johnson. In this exclusive essay we invite writer Anna Johnson to
describe her time in the studio of her father as a forty year conversation about art.
His new paintings have taken a radical development amid the plays with time and
spacial awareness, to provide fresh sensory experiences.

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Confrontation, 2014, oil on canvas, 183 x 183cm

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THE FIRST PAINTING MY FATHER, Michael Johnson, looked


at closely as a child was an intense nocturnal work by Albert
Pinkham Ryder called Toilers of the Sea. In art historical terms,
Ryder inspired the early Modernists but was attributed with a naive
crudity. Some considered him a cult Romantic landscape painter. Yet
through Johnsons lifetime this small oil painting from the late 19th
century moved with him, mapping an evolution of experience, from
night shing in Sirius Cove, to painting minimal shaped canvases in
nocturnal hues, through a long passage of gestural work, right up to
apainting nished in the rst lunar month of this year, Helix (2016).
The force of Ryders painting, glowing with a heavy moon, advancing
with great curves of paint and receding into the darkness of its own
palette, inspired in Johnson two very strong preoccupations. The rst
was the dynamic relationship between colour and form. And the second
was the power of pure abstraction to transmute elemental realities, to
put the sea or the night into a painting without depicting it literally.
These ideas sustain and connect a relentless, consistent experimentation
with colour and are possibly the only narrative he will ever offer up.
His works change but there is a larger tidal force beneath each wave.

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Our rst real conversation about painting began with a question.


Itcame at seven when I asked him to paint a circle. Why, I added,
iseverything square? In 1973 many of Michael Johnsons abstract
paintings appeared resolutely at, spare for the feature of a large
confrontational central block and scattered dis-moored bars. He was
generating large-scale pastel drawings and paintings of subtle tonal
gradation created with an airbrush compressor. The surfaces were
lyrical but their structure was tight, wedged into the right angles of
scaffolding or the jagged leaps of the modern dancers he knew. We
lived in Manhattan, the most vertical of cities, and the canvas on the
studio oor was covered in long rods of wood that were pushed into
place like poles in a moving river.
Staring at a large unnished work, traced in charcoal on raw canvas,
the rigidity of the shapes made me yearn for a big hand-drawn egg,
ashaking curve, the sun. Look a bit harder, came his reply, every
line you see on a diagonal is part of a circle, you dont need to see the
nished arc to feel its energy. OK.This small lesson in the geometric
underpinning of a composition was a short education into the inbuilt
contradictions of abstract painting. Nothing can be entirely gestural
or entirely planned. A sustained picture is always the sum of both parts.

Diagonal Light 1-4, 2014, oil on canvas, 101 x 81cm

The temptation to see abstract art as a terrain without a map or,


conversely, simply the map alone, misses many nuances. In Johnsons
career extremities have been reached, but very slowly and with
meditative rigour. The connective tissue has always been colour,
apalette devoid of secondary colours or tonality.
Anyone educated at an Australian art school in the late 1950s would
also be reaching for pure colour. Marching a mass exodus from gloomy
sepia, the abstract generation of the early 60s were in chromatic
revolt. In this regard colour in his work might have begun as a stance
before it became a quest. His distaste for tonal spectrums extended to
the monochrome. A white painting? he often quipped, Youve got
to becareful of too much good taste. Beauty and good taste are not
the same thing, you dont want to be an object of dcor. Through
years of richly hued work the question of the white painting came up
many times. Walking through a Malevich retrospective, Johnson
went as close he could to a grimy looking, all-white composition:
Look at thetiny smudges. Look at the brushstrokes. See the human
hand inside the void? Everyone thinks that minimalism is anti-sensual,
mechanical, divorced from the body but this work is handmade,
Mondrian is handmade abstraction distils, it doesnt just divorce.

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Johnson can be an artist who argues with his own tenets across
simultaneous mediums. In his studio there has always been at least
ve major disciplines at play: the structural drawings (rough as guts
sketches scrawled straight on the wall or on scraps of paper), ink
and watercolour calligraphy studies, crayon and gouache works
on paper, small sculptures and found objects and then the main
paintings. All this and the random pages torn from science and
nature magazines, alluding to animal fur, comets and frog spawn.
Treading between the oil tubes, I didnt always see the changes
coming. Subtly but distinctly, the work seemed to shift gears in
cycles of decades, almost in the pattern of a gure eight spread
across 50 years. Johnson began with small anthropomorphic
landscapes in his late teens, he then rened to minimal geometric
abstraction throughout the 1960s and then, gradually, forged a
language of lyrical, gestural work dense in both line and paint.
Bythe mid 2000s the density of the surface in his paintings began
toclear. These hinted at the major change to come. It was a
transformation that culminated in his large mural Oceania high
lowwhich won the Wynne Prize in 2014.
Before the Oceania high low work reached the public eye it was
Johnsons big experiment, lling his modest studio to capacity
and, stylistically, providing something of an elephant in the room.
In terms of palette, surface and execution this was a departure
on a grand scale. The decision to place it in a public arena was
also fraught (having never entered an art prize in his career) yet,
ultimately, timely. While he had been busy going back to his roots in
terms of very streamlined composition, a new generation of abstract
painters were also embracing colourist minimalism. Perhaps some
of them were looking to the seminal exhibition The Field (1968)
which was such a strong part of Johnsons youthful manifesto.
And perhaps its just a seasonal shift in mood, the inevitable cycle
between excess and restraint.
To those who missed a few solo shows, the shift from soft to hard
might have resembled night and day. But the course is closer to
a continuum. Thesource of Oceania is not obvious at all I
had collected some images of cormorants diving and breaking the
skin of the water to catch sh. I interpreted the movement of this
by creating calligraphy drawings with large, thick brushes then
making a collage from the drawings, cutting into them to exaggerate
the space between the lines and the void. This said, the leap from
drawn line to at plane seems a long one. Where does he sit with
the constraints of change? I dont miss the touch or the gesture

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Helix, 2016, oil on canvas, 153 x 213cm

PROFILE Michael Johnson

Sometimes I will come to the studio just


on dawn, because at that moment colour
can be perceived as a saturated whole.

because the lineal rhythm of geometry is like a dance. Instead of


a contour line drawing there is a planar tension between line and
surface. Once upon a time people said that Pollock was just using
line alone. I said NO, line has two contours and a plane in between.
The line comes back on itself.
This idea is true of an early painting like Sofala (1965) where a
line that skirts the paintings edge swerves left and swoops in on a
convex arc that becomes the belly of the painting, and its also true
of a new work like Kilamutu Angel (2013-14) where perfectly
balanced prisms bulge like the planes of an emerald-cut diamond,
convex and imposing.
Another, much larger painting, Monolith (2014), uses graduating
plinths and pale spectral colour that generates a steep ascent.
Johnson says he wanted the experience of seeing the painting to
create pure verticality like standing beneath a 100-metre cliff in
broad daylight. This work might come as close as he will ever come
to a white painting but even this choice has a structural (rather than
sensual) basis. I chose those affectionate hues because I didnt
want the forms to be too sculptural or architectural. The impact is
one of gradual ascent, evaporation of form, the perpetual upwards
motion of perspective absorbing into space.
At forty paces Monument and the other new works look clean,
almost sheer. On more intimate inspection they reveal the bruising
of brushstrokes, transparency of paint, the trail of a lost horse hair,
afaint line of charcoal, the process of the scaffolding. None of this
detracts from the totality of the image. Nothing is meant to distract.
The whole matters more than the pieces. And very often the whole is
held together by electric meetings of colour. Johnson builds elaborate
geometric structures or diffuses and obliterates them in order to let
the colour fuse or argue. The work Diagonal 1-4 (2015) consists of
four disparate small paintings created to hang together at tight
intervals, not as a mural but perhaps as an energy eld or even a
kinetic sculpture. Its as if he wants it all to shake and hum.
These particular works read like an alphabet for me. A diagonal
alphabet! Its evocative because diagonals are an intensely
visualtrigger. Within a diagonal I can see the dissipation and
expansion oflight, the condensed energy of the frame and a
constant alternation of focus.
The progress is not rapid, or prolic. Johnson stares at his work for
what seems like weeks. There are maps for certain paintings but

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others have gone off-road and are clearly driving themselves.


Sometimes I will come to the studio just on dawn, because at that
moment colour can be perceived as a saturated whole. Dusk is the
opposite, disintegrating form into tone. People ask is colour ever
routine? But the context of colour shifts from moment to moment.
Its not stable, there is nothing predictable. And I look for that
contradiction in nature continually. Conditions of light are
conditions of perception.
Johnson refers constantly to the natural world but refutes any
conventional connection to landscape. There are place names for
images that are not a place. But his visual and aesthetic argument
is always in the defense of the abstract, the right for abstraction
to exist without a binary rationale or stylistic apology. Johnsons
favourite moment in the Mike Leigh film Turner was the scene
when the Royal Academy was in uproar over a completely formless
seascape. In a pivotal scene critics and public alike stood aghast
until the artist added a tiny red splotch of paint that resembled a
buoy. Collectively the citadel of convention heaved a sigh of relief.
That is not going to happen here.
Viewed as a group, the new works, as yet un-exhibited, share a
vulnerable complicity. Deceptively, they can seem a little alien,
unanchored from the horizontal structures and liquid surfaces of
the better known paintings. Yet Johnson is adamant that different
fruits come from the same tree. Upstairs in a small attic drawing
studio, stones and animal skeletons are gathered in cigar boxes,
small sculptures nestle on tables and amorphic pastel drawings all

These particular works read like an


alphabet for me. A diagonal alphabet!
Its evocative because diagonals are
an intensely visual trigger. Within a
diagonal I can see the dissipation and
expansion of light, the condensed
energy of the frame and a constant
alternation of focus.

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Cormorant Quartet, 2015, oil on canvas, four paintings joined at 101 x 81cm
Oceania Study, 2013, Ink on paper, 60 x 80cm

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The paintings are talking to the past but breaking


into raw turf. Some of the colour is candied and
brittle, some of it has the melancholy depth of
the 1960s and some has a glazed gradation that
floats like a veil. The dexterity in oil paint has
taken a new form.

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hold keys to the content of this series. The paintings are talking to
the past but breaking into raw turf. Some of the colour is candied
and brittle, some of it has the melancholy depth of the 1960s and
some has a glazed gradation that oats like a veil. The dexterity in
oil paint has taken a new form.
When he talks about his work, formalism always butts up against the
sensate. BELOW/ABOVE were words scrawled on his studio
walls for years. Every conversation about the work leads back to
simultaneous opposites. Hecompares the experience of his colour to
immersion in water. In water the seal between skin and ocean can
be suspended. Momentarily we are the weightless whole moving on
a massive tide. Sometimes the sky becomes inverted and clouds reect
in miniature on the skin of the sea. The horizon can shrink contrasted
to fathomless depths below. If this artist had one wish for his work
perhaps it might be something like that. To generate a sense of
peripheral immersion that generates a pulsing haptic encounter.
The paintings have never had frames and where the frame ends is
a place that never interested him. He paints the perimeter of every
painting with another line of colour. He wants to keep going and
take you with him.
Michael Johnson is represented by Annette Larkin Fine Art
www.annettelarkin.com

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Red ink studies, c. 2013, ink on paper, 42 x 60cm


Purple ink studies, c. 2013, ink on paper, 42 x 30cm

Courtesy the artist


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PROFILE Vivienne Shark LeWitt


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Vivienne Shark LeWitt


STORY LUCY STRANGER

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and for Vivienne Shark LeWitt this is very
much the case. Not your everyday artist, in her work language plays just as much a part
as the visual does in the final product. With an impressive career and diverse range of
influences, her passion for narrative and wordplay has remained a constant. And now,
part-way through her PhD, the combination of writing and painting has even further
cemented Viviennes drive to explore the potential of this witty interplay.

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Vivienne Shark LeWitt in her studio, photographer Ian Robertson.


Massa Peccati: The Seven Deadly Sins, 2010, acrylic on linen, 180 x 247cm

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Empathy is crucial, it is what connects


you to everything else. I suppose lots of
artists might be interested in empathy in
the sense that there is not much around.

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I sing the sofa (9am), 1995, oil on linen, 86 x 137cm


Torch, 1996, oil on linen, 187 x 122cm
Did Someone Say Cashmere?, 2007, acrylic on
linen, 77 67cm
Cease and desist, 2006, acrylic on linen, 77 67cm

WHAT HAS INFLUENCED your approach to art?


It is hard to say, you are what you are and other things affirm what you
are. Because I was interested in art history, most of the things that I
liked were pre-Renaissance. If I liked anyone, any artists, from the 20th
century it was usually because they were influenced by the same things
that I liked. When I was young I liked Balthus, and of course Balthus
was really influenced by Giotto. It takes a while to find your way
through art history and find out what you feel connected to.
Your early works are quite cartoon-esque what connected you to
this style?
I had a definite cartoon-esque style in the 1990s, I was looking at old
Punch cartoons and New Yorker cartoons and I just really liked them. I
started trying to do some work that had a similar simplicity. I suppose it
was a natural progression because always in my work there is an action,
there is always something happening. It is usually a crucial, significant
moment that tells a story, in a similar way to how a book jacket does, or
a movie poster, or an illustration in an illustrated book or a cartoon.
What appeals to you about storytelling and humour in your work?
In a way my first love is writing and reading, so the work I do is art, but
it is also connected to literature. I dont think I could have been a
novelist, but I can do this. I love writing but I seem to be able to write
only when I have a specific project to do. Several times in the past I
have tried to sit down and ask myself, Am I really a writer or not?
And I would feel like I was trying to walk out into the ocean and might
drown. I didnt know where to begin. With painting, I think of it as a

PROFILE Vivienne Shark LeWitt

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aman that used to stand in front of it every day, just laughing. So


denitely I am always thinking about who is on the other side of what
Iam doing.
Your works do pick up on those hilarious eccentricities of humanity.
It is a big part of what I am interested in, the way people behave and
think, the psychological complexities of us all it is endlessly fascinating.

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way of writing, but it can say what you cant say in writing. If I could
write what I paint I probably wouldnt paint. Images can do things that
words cant do sometimes, but on the other hand words are really
important to me, in my titles and in my life in general.
There is an important interplay between your titles and your works,
there are not many left untitled
(laughs) Yes there has been one or two left untitled that I have had to
send off before Ive had time to think about it. Its weird, they are like
the ones that got away they always feel incomplete.
When you are creating a work, do you consider your audience and
their response?
Absolutely. Ive become very aware of this doing the PhD, which is
quite self-examining. I always feel I am communicating with somebody,
like what I am doing is addressed to somebody else. I really like it when
people laugh. There was a painting of a woman serving spaghetti
(Spaghetti, 1996) I remember Roslyn (Oxley) saying there was

What attracts you to explore humanity and empathy?


I think that has to do with wanting to communicate with whoever is on
the other side of my work. Empathy is crucial, it is what connects you
to everything else. I suppose lots of artists might be interested in
empathy in the sense that there is not much around. Sometimes my
work shows the disastrous effects of lack of empathy. In fact there
might be a bit of that going on in the early cartoony ones forgiving the
quirks and aws.
How do you begin a work?
They begin from drawings, and then Ill usually just know if that is the
one and I have the image that I want. They are worked out on paper
but once I start working on the linen surface I never quite know whats
going to happen. You need at least three ideas feeding into something.
There is an intersection, and where they all meet is where the image
comes to life.
It can go wrong sometimes; it is usually a matter of letting the work tell
me what to do from the initial drawing. I think this is how paintings can
live, they tell you what to do and you listen. You stop trying to control.
You dont control. You cant really dash them off, as much as Id like to.
The effort shouldnt be in what happens on the surface, the effort is
much more in your own head. The effort on the surface is natural.

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PROFILE Vivienne Shark LeWitt


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Do you know when a work is finished?


Yes that is important because you have to know when to stop. A good
point to stop is when you think you could do a little bit more, the
painting will tell you. It is quite intuitive. You have to trust your intuition.
They can take a few months to nish, but sometimes I have paintings
that are well behaved and they just fall into place really quickly.
Over your career, what has changed for you in the art industry?
Ive been thinking about the word practice. I cant relate to that word
too well, because it sounds like you do the same thing all the time and
you know what you are doing. I know it is just a general term now, but
to me thats what it still means, maybe because I started out before it
came in. Most of my works are one-offs; I cant do the same thing twice.
Youre doing a PhD at the moment; how is it exploring your dual
interest in words and the visual image?
It is really interesting. Writing and painting really are from different
parts of the brain. I cant do them both at the same time it is just too
much. I am about to do some painting over the summer, which I am
really looking forward to. To stop thinking for a while, just feel. But
Imust say I have been really enjoying writing.

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Its a beautiful fusion of your love of English and art.


It is! I think thats why I am enjoying it so much. It is a great
opportunity, Ill be sorry when its over.
Vivienne Shark LeWitt is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery
and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.
www.annaschwartzgallery.com
www.roslynoxley9.com.au

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I am Curious Yellow (11am), 1995, oil on linen, 137 x 86cm


Boeing, Boeing, 1991, acrylic on linen, 40 71cm
My Echo, My Shadow, 1992, acrylic on linen, 51 60cm

Images courtesy the artist, Anna Schwartz Gallery and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Guy Warren
STORY STEVE LOPES

Guy Warren has inspired many other artists with his inventive and curious approach to the landscape and human
form. An Archibald Prize winner, educator and respected painter, his contribution to Australias visual culture has
been enormous. At 95, Guy Warren is about to have a much awaited special focus survey curated by Barry Pearce.

PROFILE Guy Warren


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CAN I START OFF WITH THE RAINFOREST, why has it


beensuch a feature of your work over the years?
Very simple it all started off in the 1940s when I was in the army and
they sent me up to Canungra which is near the Qld/NSW border.
Its thick rainforest country up there and Id never seen rainforest
before. We went for jungle warfare training and it was bloody tough
and most people hated it, but I thought the country was absolutely
magnicent, thick rainforest, ravines, gullies, rushing streams and
wonderful vegetation. All my army mates thought I was nuts but I
was young and healthy and could put up with the physical difculties
at the time but it was such beautiful country, particularly visually.
During the Second World War I served in New Guinea and there was
jungle again. Everything seemed bigger and better. Trees were bigger,
the owers brighter, bugs were scarier and from a visual point of
view as an artist you see everything in terms of a picture. After the
war I went to the National Art School, I got married and even took
my wife back to Canungra for our honeymoon. Everybody thought
Iwas crazy, but rainforest meant that much to me and these images
were deeply ingrained within. Around 40 years ago I bought a block
of land in the rainforest down at Jamberoo, NSW, with sculptor Bert
Flugelman buying the adjoining block. I would go down regularly for
a week or so at a time and wander through the bush, do a lot of
drawing and painting. I simply just liked walking through the bush.
Metaphorically, what does the rainforest represent to you? Its
often peopled with gures in your work does that represent

anything environmentally, or is it loaded with a particular message?


I react to this landscape because I like the feeling of being in it. It
encompasses you and one becomes a part of it. After I nished art
school and got married to Joy, we went to London where I thought
we would stay for 18 months. Instead we stayed for eight years and
came back with two kids! I had a lot of skill by that time and I could
paint pretty well but I didnt know what to paint and I didnt want to
paint London. Everybody else had done that and I wasnt a Londoner.
Ive tried to paint the English landscape which is very beautiful but
its like a bloody big park. It doesnt mean anything to me. So in
desperation I started to paint my memories of my time in New
Guinea. It was a very peculiar thing to do in the middle of London.
It was the early 50s and we had a little black and white TV set and
Isaw a documentary by some fellow who had been to the highlands
ofNew Guinea. He made a lm about the way the Mount Hagen
dancers have a great festival where they dress up in these wonderful
clothes, feathers, masks and decorations, and I thought thats the kind
of information I could use and remember. I particularly remember
drawing the local indigenous people when I was in Bougainville and
became intrigued by their decoration. Anything you gave them they
would use as decoration. One day I was drawing this big darkskinned fellow and I had nothing to pay him with for sitting. I used to
pay in cigarettes,but the only thing I had to give him after scouring
my tent was a tin of talcum powder which we probably were sent to
help with skin disease. I gave it to this big local guy and the rst thing
he did was to empty the talcum powder in his hand and decorate

PROFILE Guy Warren


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Very few have thought of it as


being part of them of them
belonging to the landscape.
himself and make these wonderful great white marks against his black
body. These were things I was trying to remember and put down in
paint later. I wrote to the BBC after I saw this particular program and
asked if I could buy some of the photographers stills from this doco.
A few days later I got a call from some bloke who thought he could
help. He said he made the lm and his name was David Attenborough!
He was young and it was probably one of his rst lms and he invited
me over for a drink and lent me a whole stack of photographs. It was
from those images I did many works some of which will be on show
at the S.H. Ervin Gallery this year.
In a way in your work you have responded to the primitive mark.
Yes, though its more than that. I realised as I was doing these works
in New Guinea that I was trying to do what Attenborough had done
showing these people in their natural environment almost merging
with it with all their decorations. I thought what a great metaphor it is
for belonging to the landscape and to the land. One of the problems
Ive always had with the European way of looking at the landscape
and lets not knock it, some of the greatest artists in the world have

been landscape painters but they have all sat and painted the landscape
over there as though its something to be admired or analysed or used
in some sort of way. Very few have thought of it as being part of them
of them belonging to the landscape. Its like the Aboriginal attitude:
they are not separate, you are the land and the land is you. Thats
whyI have always often tried to make a gure in the landscape.
Itseasy to put a gure in the landscape in a painting but its bloody
difcult to make it look like the gure is part of its environment but
also an inevitable part of the painting. A symbiotic connection is not
easily won. I dont do it all the time and it isnt always successful to
incorporate the gure its not a dogma. At times I simply paint the
landscape as landscape. I always remind myself of that wonderful
phrase of Philip Guston who said, Art can contain anything you like,
except dogma of any kind.
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Mother and Child (Bush Idyll), 2015, acrylic on canvas, 159 x 180cm
Landscape with Emu, Silverton, 2015, watercolour on paper, 53 x
73cm
Bush Walk, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60cm

Do spontaneity and chance play an important part in your work?


Yes they do. I usually paint on the oor, and inevitably with painting
from that perspective a certain element of chance must come into it,
you cant control everything. I used to use an acrylic paint which had
a runny consistency and you cant paint with it on an easel as it falls
off. I had to work on the oor so Ive done that for a long time and its
only now that I can no longer bend down on the oor as easily as I used
to. Ive gone back mainly to working on the easel with oils again.
Myworks are visually rhythmic and chance and spontaneity are
important. In a way the rainforest has a certain overlapping and
complexity of forms, and this is why a lot of my paintings are shallow
in depth. If you stand in the rainforest and look at it you see youve
got form over form, leaf over leaf, tree over tree, so there is a density
of form compacted. There is no distance, just a shallow depth.

writer, poet, musician or artist have been so moving and vital that
they have left with you impressions and feelings that you want to put
into your work. Looking back I can identify the ones that meant that
much to me, and New Guinea and the rainforest were ones that have
never left me. There was a mad hitchhike I did around Australia with
a mate of mine which was a memorable experience; that mad canoe trip
I did down the Shoalhaven River with my brother when I was 16 was
another. We had to drag our canoes through the bushland, had terrible
accidents but we basically canoed from inland Goulburn to the sea. Im
better creating in the studio though than out in the landscape, better
when Im not there. When I experience it and then go back to the studio,
I dont think about it so much and let those memories take over and do
what they do. I prefer to work intuitively later on, than respond on the
spot. Im impressed by those who can get up there and paint immediately.

So design or patterning has become a big part of your work?


Yep, its like standing in the rainforest and looking at it. Its been an
important and integral part of everything Ive done since the 1940s.
There was a time when I did nothing but totally abstract work and I
wanted to get back to the gure. I learnt that it was, for me, all about
humanity and nature. Abstract work for me was never quite enough.

So the Australian landscape has always been important to you, even


as a kid, even though you dont generally like to localise your art?
Its been enormously important. Im looking at a global attitude relating
to landscape. Its about relating to the world and the environment
which I would hope everybody felt the same way. As far as the
landscape is concerned I know the Australian landscape and Ive slept
on every bloody bit of it from rock to sand, under trees, on beaches
and every bit of grass, I really have. I dont know any other lands as
well. I may have travelled through them but they are not a part of me.

Subject matter is very important in art, as well as personal experience.


There are certain experiences we all have in our lives which for a

PROFILE Guy Warren

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My experience of the Australian landscape is everything that seeps


into your consciousness if you have been in it since you were a child.
You dont have to be a native of any country to perceive it insightfully.
One of the guys who I thought did it marvellously and interpreted his
environment and made the point that I have tried to make was a nonAustralian, Ian Fairweather. He managed to make that connection
between the gure and the environment work harmoniously.
You met him and made a pilgrimage to Bribie Island, where you
left your family on the beach and trekked into the bush to meet
him. What was that like?
He mostly spoke to me about Abstract Expressionism, I cant
remember what else he told me! Ive always been cross at myself
because at the end of his dim little hut was the great work he was
doing on the series called The Drunken Buddha and I didnt like to say
to him at the time that Id like a close look at it. He probably would
have said yes but I was too shy. Instead we drank a bottle of wine and
talked about Abstract Expressionism and art generally six hours
later I forgot I left Joy and the kids on the beach and rushed back!
Was Fairweather an influence on you?
Oh yes I think so. When I rst returned to Australia from London
London was pretty exciting in the 50s. Everything was exciting there
and then I came back and questioned why. Everything here seemed
so bloody dull, except for Fairweather, and he had been doing what
Iwas trying to do but a hell of a lot better. He was an inspiration.
You are quite grounded and tough as nails, yet theres a lightness
of touch to your work, almost a spiritual quality in it.
If other people can see that then thats great, but Im never sure what
people mean by it. If it means an awareness of ourselves in the universe
or land, then Lloyd Rees had it. He said to me once something quite

extraordinary, You know Guy, isnt it amazing that here we are, in the
middle of all eternity. What a thought! Most of us worry about our
three score years and ten, and you think of eternity which goes backwards
and forwards to innity, and heres Lloyd thinking of himself being a
unit, a signicant or insignicant part of that innity. Thats about as
close as you can get to a feeling of what you might call spirituality.
You have had longevity in the artworld and have been a
contemporary of a lot of great artists. Were you aware of your
place as a respected artist or your career trajectory?
Thats news to me! Maybe its just living a long time! As for career,
well I wasnt aware of it, and that was a great fault on my part.
Ishould have probably paid more attention to it. I knew people like
John Olsen and Fred Williams from way back and the thing I
admired about those two guys even as young men was they knew they
were going to have a career as an artist. That never occurred to me. I
just kept making marks but I assumed Id end up being a commercial
artist. It wasnt until in my 40s that it suddenly occurred to me after
painting for quite a while that I could achieve it. I had grown up
during the Depression and there was no money anywhere. My old
man was broke and the most important thing was to somehow get out
there and get a job. That was the imperative. I had been going to art
school since I was 15 and always wanted to be a painter, but
commercial art was the only option initially.

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Gaia at Badgerys, 1990, acrylic on canvas, 274 x 274cm


Guy Warren and paintings Homebush, 1960, Photo by David Moore for Architecture in
Australia

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What do you think of painting now and what


changes have you noticed?
Ive noticed a lot of changes. The biggest were in
the 70s when conceptual art hit Australia for the
rst time, a few years late. Painting was declared
dead and I found that very depressing. There
were times when I felt like giving up painting
altogether but its been declared dead at least ve
times in my lifetime. They said in the 1880s when
photography was invented that painting was dead,
and have said so several times since then. Now with all these new
technologies art is incredibly exciting with new possibilities but it
isnt enough for me. I want to make a mark on a at surface and Ive
decided that its a primal urge, which is why we are all still making
marks on walls. There are a lot of exciting things Id like to get
involved with in technology but Geezus Ive got enough problems
already in my own art that Im still dealing with.
Where do you see your art heading now you are almost 95?
Just to keep on working and see where it goes. Many years ago I
decided that, unlike some artists I know I wasnt going to paint exactly
the same picture all my life. That might be great for the bank balance
but its bad for the soul. When you start copying yourself you die. I still
nd the whole business of art-making so very strange that I still dont
know how to deal with it. The only advice Id pass on to any painter
is to trust your intuition, try to be inventive, dont rely on skills alone.
Either that or marry a rich partner or be born into a rich family!
Sounds like it doesnt get any easier as you get older?
No it doesnt it gets damn harder! You realise the older you get, and
the more you do, it only shows up how little you actually know than
you initially thought you did. You see other people doing fascinating
work and it makes you want to be more inventive. People say art
gives you an inner drive, but I dont know. I would say its more a
dumb urge to keep on doing it. Its something you know youve got
todo. What Ive noticed now is I think we stumble through life, we

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take corners intuitively. Some people must plan their lives and their
artwork, and bloody good luck to them if they can pull it off, but I
stumble along and turn corners or take pathways I didnt expect to
nd. Some of them are dead ends and some of them arent but you
hope to make some right decisions along the way. Art has brought me
richness in a way but it can also highlight your own limitations, but it
has never been boring. Im so grateful I wasnt a bank manager.
EXHIBITION
Guy Warren at 95: Genesis of an artist
16 April 29 May, 2016
S.H. Ervin Gallery
www.shervingallery.com.au
Guy Warren is represented by Olsen Irwin Gallery.
www.olsenirwin.com

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Rainforest Blues, 1989, acrylic, oil and oil stick on linen, 274 x 274cm
Wingman and Mist (No. 1), 1985, oil on canvas, 89 x 102cm
Ian Fairweather Bribie Island, 1965, Photograph Guy Warren
Head over Heels Alice, 2015, oil and acrylic on canvas, 120 x 150cm

Courtesy the artist and Olsen Irwin Gallery

PEACOCK GALLERY AND


AUBURN ARTS STUDIO
To capture a utopian vision, Kon Gouriotis curates a two-staged exhibition:
placing original work by artists from Western Sydney in the Peacock Gallery, and
a replica of each work in Auburns Botanic Gardens that respond to the Gardens.

Open Field 2 April 26 June 2016


On the turning
point of becoming
and returning
ANNA MCMAHON
27 February 27 March 2016
Chindians of
Auburn
KEVIN BATHMAN
27 February 27 March 2016
Open Field
KON GOUTIOTIS
(curator)
2 April26 June 2016

Autumn at Auburn Botanic Gardens 2014

Postcard from Japan circa 1970

Auburn Botanic Gardens, cnr Chisholm and Chiswick streets, Auburn 2144.
T (02) 8745-9794, 9735-1222. W peacockgallery@auburn.nsw.gov.au
www.auburn.nsw.gov.au/peacockgallery H Tue-Sun 11.00 to 4.00.

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Virginia Cuppaidge
STORY LUCY STRANGER

Virginia Cuppaidge grew up as a Brisbane girl, bathed in Queensland


sunshine, but in her early 20s she made a life-changing decision
switching city and hemisphere to live and practise in New York City.
Despite this geographic shift, her works have innately expressed her
pulll towards light and ongoing connection to Australia.

PROFILE Virginia Cuppaidge

Several people had written this work


isvery Australian, and I found that
at the time very annoying, because
Iwanted to be international.

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What impact did the changes of pace and culture, from Brisbane to
New York, have on you?
I always wanted to go to New York from when I was 14 years of age,
however I can say it now: I was very afraid of New York. When I got
on the plane I didnt have any plans, I was just hoping I could stay in
New York. If I hadnt met up with Clement Clem Meadmore, which
was not planned at all, it would have been a very different story. It was
a very dangerous city in the 1970s, more than I realised.
How did this move to New York feed your interests in abstract art?
I studied fairly formally, but my rst interest in abstraction was seeing
images of the Russian Constructivists. In New York, seeing modern
paintings in real life what an impact it had Jackson Pollock and
Lee Krasner. One artist that really inuenced me was Hans Hoffmann:
the Metropolitan Museum of Art had two big paintings of his in its
collection with these big blocks of colour. Id never seen anything like it
it was so modern and so brash. A big inuence on my Works on Paper
was after I had taken up a teaching assignment at the University of
California, Berkeley. It was a fabulous experience; I met a lot of
Californian artists, such as Richard Diebenkorn who did a series of
works called The Ocean Park Series. Brice Marden was also a huge
inuence. I was also fascinated with the minimalists, and it inuenced
my geometric works, like The Big Orange. Although, I can never be
areal minimal artist, I am too intuitive and expressive.

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In your latest exhibition Another Kind of Light the images are quite
reductionist with their simple carved-out forms that seemingly float
across the paper. What led to this openness in your practice?
The thing about New York is everybody complains of the trafc noise.
I decided the place that I lived in had to be a quiet, tranquil place, and
felt a very emotional need to create this little sanctuary. I wanted to
make these sublime and beautiful paintings. With these works on paper,
Istarted to open up the space and just have little pieces oating across,
so the background became a big part of the work. I just wanted to
create something serenely quiet, in contrast to the life I was leading.
The exhibition returns to a series of works from the late 1970s.What
does this series signify for you as a turning point in your practice?
Its only in retrospect that these were what led me into the Skyspace
paintings. I wanted to bring light into the equation. Several people had
written this work is very Australian, and I found that at the time very
annoying, because I wanted to be international. I realised the light in
Australia is very different; when I am mixing paint I mix a little bit of

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Skylight Evening, 1976, crayon/gouache on paper, 42 x 36cm


Manhattan Sunrise, 1979, crayon/gouache on paper, 42 x 36cm
Virginia Cuppaidge

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white into every colour I use. Its my colour palette bright colours or
black there is a tiny dab of white in them. I always remember the
Queensland sky, with the heat of the sun on a blazing hot day, its sunbleached light, and clear blue. I wonder if that is what is getting into my
paintings, because I definitely have a particular colour sense. I dont
mind my work being called Australian now because it makes sense;
we are deeply influenced from our childhood.
So wherever you were working in New York, there was always that
memory of Australian light, and capturing that in your work?
Yes, the works on paper I created just after I had been in California,
and the light is fantastic there, very soft but you can see more of it.
Working on Manhattan Sunrise from my loft in Soho, I could look
south in the morning and see the light. It is really important, because
New York is dark, it creates a yearning for sunlight.
Colour does get that prominence in your work, the background
isalmost moving to the foreground. How do you go about starting
a work?
When I start a work I get a taste of a colour, I get a visceral taste in my
mouth or body that I want to work with. In Pink Painted Field, I can
remember I got this very intense pink colour and when I finished that
one, I thought gee, what was going to be a big square of pink, looked
like a field it had an organic feel to it. I do a lot of layers of colour, in
Big Orange if they were to dissect that painting, you would find several
layers underneath, of slightly different colours. It is never flat colour.
This visceral taste, is that intuition towards colour a driving force
behind your approach or your practice?
Absolutely, Ill put that chosen colour down and then that colour will
demand what else it needs to liven the surface. Often paintings sit on
my walls for months before Ill put the next bit in there. Im not super
prolific, I shouldnt confess that because apparently youre not
supposed to. New York artists are so prolific that some people used to
say to me dont tell people you dont make so many works Virginia,

Often paintings sit on my walls for


months before Ill put the next bit in
there. Im not super prolific.

because they wont take you seriously. Ive never been able to do that,
you just have to wait until the painting talks back to you and tells you
what it needs.
You have been practising for over 40 years in New York now, but
you still continue to exhibit in Australia. What is the importance of
maintaining this connection?
Australians respond very intensely in a good way to my work. I think
they have a more direct response. Its easy to say in retrospect how all
this falls into place but when youre young, you have all these things
that you have a burning desire to do. But it all pans out slightly
different from where you planned. Then when you look back on it you
think oh yeah, thats what was supposed to happen. I kept up that
contact, even though I am living in New York Ive never wanted to lose
my Australian connection.
EXHIBITION
Virginia Cuppaidge | Another Kind of Light
Stella Downer Fine Art
5 March 5 April
Virginia Cuppaidge is represented by Stella Downer Fine Art
www.stelladownerneart.com.au www.virginiacuppaidge.com
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Outside City Limits, 1979, crayon/gouache on paper, 42 x 36cm

Order your copy online

MYMAGAZINES.COM.AU

artistproile.com.au/yourfriendtheenemy

PROFILE Ah Xian

Ah Xian
STORY MICHAEL YOUNG

Working with materials as diverse as cloisonn, porcelain, concrete, breglass, bronze and,
most recently, latex, Chinese-Australian artist Ah Xian has won major sculpture prizes and much
acclaimhere in Australia, his adopted home for the last 25 years, yet he is still not represented
byacommercial gallery. And in his former homeland of China, where he has a studio within
BeijingsSongzhuang artist community, he is barely known and has never been exhibited there.
ARTIST PROFILE recently spent time with this quietly spoken artist discussing his work, his complex
relationship with China, and the philosophy which guides his inventive, cross-cultural creative vision.

CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN ARTIST AH XIAN is one of Australias


leading contemporary artists, and our recent conversation at his home
in Sydneys northern suburbs began with a dramatic announcement
by him that he is no longer making the porcelain busts and cloisonn
gures that propelled him to overnight success when he won the
National Gallery of Australias inaugural National Sculpture prize in
2001 with Human human lotus, cloisonn gure 1 (2000/01). With
its beguiling otherworldly aesthetic, the life-size cast female Chinese
gure demonstrated a unique and highly individual artistic language.
Now in the Queensland Art Gallery collection, it showed the artist
totally at ease in the cross-cultural space between his classical
Chinese heritage and the western gurative canon that he had
explored since seeking political asylum in Australia in 1990 following
the Tiananmen Square crackdown the previous year.
The busts he refers to as now being nished are the China China series
(1998-2004) of which there are 80 pieces and which regularly sell for
six-gure sums. Yes, the porcelain ones are for now nished. I do not
want to repeat myself and end up working without passion, he explains.
Ah Xian is modest, self-deprecating and, by his own admission, a
touch shy and rarely attends gallery openings. He does not, and never
has, tried to inuence the way things happen in his life and art, he
explains, preferring instead the unpredictability of fate. I never try
toinuence life and art direction. I let opportunities nd me. This is
the way I live. It might seem a Buddhist, even Taoist, path to plough
with its simple adherence to the principle of harmonious living but
AhXian insists he subscribes to neither philosophy but accepts that
at the bottom of my heart and soul there may be something deposited
there from my early years.
We talked lounging on wicker furniture in a loggia at the front of the
house. To one side is an old shelving unit where a patina of white dust
has settled over a raw cast in resin breglass of one of his signature
busts. The models eyes are closed and the head is hairless yet it retains
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Ah Xian in his studio, photographer Michael Young

a contemplative repose, and an almost casual mlange of eastern


inscrutability and western symbolism. I believe the closed eyes
provide a more inward looking feeling. For a little while I considered
open eyes, it can be done. But I soon changed my mind, he says.
Ah Xian had just returned from China where he now spends half of
every year working in a tiny 250 square metre studio in Beijings
Songzhuang artist community. The rest of the year is spent with his
family in Sydney.
Ah Xians practice is tranquil and calm as is the man himself. I
believe naturally the calmness ows out of me, he says. He speaks
uent English in a quiet, thoughtful and mannered way and our
conversation runs as smoothly as a mountain stream. I was born in
1960 and grew up during the Cultural Revolution when art schools
were closed. Therefore I am more or less self-taught.
In 1979 he was involved on the periphery of the avant-garde Stars
Group of painters when the groups founders, which included Huang
Rui, Ma Desheng and Wang Keping hung their contemporary
paintings on the fence of Beijings China Art Gallery. This deant act
challenged the accepted Communist Party doctrine that art should
serve the people. Ah Xian acted as a runner for the group, helping
move paintings and sculptures on the back of an old tricycle. He met
the painter Li Shuang the only female founder of the group and
studied informally with her. She lent me art books and journals on
western artists like Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Modigliani and Surrealism.
The dramatic 1989 events in Tiananmen Square, when the Peoples
Liberation Army ruthlessly crushed the edgling democracy
movement, shocked Ah Xian but also helped form the conceptual
undertow for all his subsequent work.
On the morning of 4 June he was on the streets and the group he was
with swarmed to Fuxingmen Hospital at the south side of China

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Avenue, three kilometres from the square. It was like a war zone.
Isaw 21 dead bodies lined up in the hospital bicycle shed, he says.
I asked whether the busts inherent solemnity alludes to 1989.
At the time I dont think it was that much political. I simply focus on
something more beautiful with Chinese tradition and history,
something more cultural. Some people understand them as political
because of the way the models eyes are closed and how patterns
cover their faces. But in my mind I think they are just beautiful
aesthetic objects rather than political statements, he says.
In 1990 Ah Xian ed China for political asylum in Australia and
eightyears working as a house painter in Sydney and part-time artist.
Theidea for the gurative porcelain pieces came to me in 1994. I was
in the Mao Goes Pop exhibition at Sydneys Museum of Contemporary
Art in 1993. I made some casts of my hands in plaster of Paris and
putthem into military boxes, like animation boxes. I was still stuck
with the idea of the Tiananmen killings and the violence but soon
recognised that the material I was using seemed too cheap and not
durable. So I thought maybe there could be something in porcelain,
which is a more valuable and durable material. That was how the idea
formed, he says.
After several months working at the Sydney College of the Arts in
1998 and later at Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China, in the
following year, the China China series of porcelain busts emerged,
with hand-painted cobalt underglaze and decorative motifs that oat
freely over the works surfaces. I have always been amazed at the
shape of the human body and how it has formed the centrepiece of art
for thousands of years, he says.
In 2007 there was a shift in the materiality of Ah Xians practice as he
explored the properties of cast concrete. I tried a number of new

I have always been amazed at the shape of


the human body and how it has formed the
centrepiece of art for thousands of years.
materials in search of one that had less craftsmanship. Concrete was
much rougher, heavy and raw, he says. It worked as a vehicle of
AhXians trope and resulted in Concrete Forest, a suite of 36 busts
which won the 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, with their
surfaces imprinted with the leaves of plant species such as maple,
lotus and Chinese weeping willow, reecting the artists concern for
the environment.

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Ah Xians studio, photographer Michael Young


Concrete Forest 19: Monstera deliciosa. (Ceriman) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax,
53 x 50 x 26cm
Concrete Forest 1: Prunus hybrids. (Cherry) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax, 54 x 44 x 27cm
Concrete Forest 5: Chrysanthemum. (Mums) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax, 52 x 47 x 23cm
Concrete Forest 18: Salix babylonica. (Chinese Weeping Willow) , 2008-2009, concrete,
wax, 55 x 51 x 28cm
Concrete Forest 17: Nelumbo nucifera. (Lotus), , 2008-2009, concrete, wax, 52 x 48 x 25cm
Concrete Forest 19: Monstera deliciosa. (Ceriman) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax,
53 x 50 x 26cm
Concrete Forest 28: Bambusoideae. (Bamboo) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax, 48 x 42 x 23cm
Concrete Forest 2: Sagittaria trifolia. (Threeleaf Arrowhead) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax,
56 x 46 x 28cm
Concrete Forest 36: Notocactus hybrids. (Cactus) , 2008-2009, concrete, wax,
48 x 43 x 23cm

PROFILE Ah Xian

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PROFILE Ah Xian

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Five years ago, bronze, which Ah Xian rst explored in 2004, began
to preoccupy him. It is a material which is historical, durable, heavy
and strange. It can last for thousands of years, he says. The bronze
busts for the Metaphysica series (2007) were shown in QAGOMAs
The China Project in 2009. These abandoned surface decoration in
favour of small everyday objects attached to the busts skulls birds,
sh, miniature monkeys, toads, lamps and gurines of Buddha bought
at Beijing ea markets, often in contrasting colours. These rest gently
on their heads, the place where Ah Xian believes souls and imagination
lingers. I choose the objects carefully. They are things from peoples
daily life, mass-produced at affordable prices. People keep these
objects at home. So I use them to symbolise peoples beliefs.
In recent bronze busts such as the Evolutionaura series (2011-13)
thedomestic objects have been superseded by more ambitious
metaphysical stone additions. Some are semi-precious stones, and
others are what are known in China as scholars rocks, which are
much prized among intellectuals. They seem almost to teeter
precariously on the skulls or cling deantly to the bronzes, which are
covered in gold leaf. It is, says Ah Xian, about beauty and nature.
Iuse gold colour against the natural colour of the rocks to emphasise
the contrast between the human body and natural forms. Eight
pieces from the series were shown as part of Dark Heart, the 2014
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, and two more from the series
were acquired in 2015 by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where
they form a focal point in the gallerys Asian wing.
Ah Xians success since he moved to Australia 25 years ago has been
well earned. However he says he remains unknown in China and has
never been exhibited there. Not many people know my art back in
China, apart from the relatively small contemporary art circle. I have
been thinking about this conundrum of being known and not known,
and I wonder if I should change my approach to commercial galleries.
(Ah Xian has never had commercial gallery representation but has
exhibited once or twice at commercial galleries in his early years in
Sydney.) Everyone who sees my work says they like it. But in China
only those people who come to my studio can see the work.

As he wrestles with this enigma it becomes obvious that Ah Xians


career has arrived at a crossroads brought about by his persistent
need to experiment with materials. Currently he seems to have
abandoned completely the tactile materials he has favoured previously
for one that is altogether more theatrical.
In the 250 square metres of his Beijing studio a new body of work is
taking shape, literally. It relies on modern technology rather than
artisanal craftsmanship yet still riffs on the familiar theme of the
human form. The new works are life-size latex busts and full-length
gures, made from extant casts, and which will be enclosed in glass
vitrines. They will be inated by compressed air delivered by an
invisible pump and will ll the vitrine completely before slowly
deating in complete silence. The latex surfaces will be undecorated
and the eyes will remain closed but, in a dramatic departure from
previous bust iterations, the new ones will possess real hair. Each
will inate beyond distortion to completely ll up the whole glass
space. It is a durational kind of work. As the air comes out the gure
shrinks back. It is all experimental but well advanced, he says.
I ask how will anybody learn of, or even see, that he has produced
anew body given that he has no gallery representation. The question
is answered with an enigmatic smile and a shrug of the shoulders
andI am left with a real sense that fate will be called upon in the
coming years to play its usual role in this extraordinary artists career.
Iwould rather things took a natural course. If people appreciate my
work they will nd me sooner or later. But if not, well, I must do
something even better, Im afraid, he concludes.

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Ah Xians studio
Evolutionaura14: Tai-lake Stone-2, 2011-2013, bronze, gold, Tai-lake stone,
77 x 44 x 26cm
China, China-Bust 70, 2002, porcelain carved relief and bitumen stained with
landscape design, 35 x 44 x 25cm

Courtesy the artist and Michael Young

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PROFILE John Honeywill


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John Honeywill
STORY OWEN CRAVEN

John Honeywill is an artist of observation. His still-life paintings render his observations of
quiet moments of everyday, domestic objects. From a vase of wilting flowers to a delicious
piece of Turkish delight, his paintings observe the presence and stillness of the object in
a moment in time. Removed from their context, the subject matter of Honeywills hyperrealistic paintings is not driven by telling a narrative but, rather, by capturing the intrigue that first
caught his eye. ARTIST PROFILE met with Honeywill in his Brisbane studio to discuss
what captures his attention and why he is enticed by the simple things that surround him.

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Chair and fabric, 2011, oil on linen, 123 x 92cm


Ilkley Still Life I, 2010, oil on linen, 100 x 74cm

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YOUVE BALANCED YOUR ART-MAKING with being a high


school visual arts teacher your whole career. Is routine a big part
of the practice?
Yes. Often I wont start painting until 8:30 or sometimes 9pm often
when youre least wanting to go painting. So that thing of the
discipline of just forcing yourself to go to the studio is important. But
once you get down there and turn on the music or the radio and start
painting, its all good. And there is the advantage of the holidays
usually a time in which I work intensely.
Do you usually set a theme and paint towards an exhibition in
thatmanner?
I dont sit down and go, Alright, the next group of works will be
such and such. Its just something that comes. If there is that
cohesion with a show, often thats just something thats come about
onan intuitive basis. You discover something and then that leads to
something else that is connected, and which leads to something else.
The underlying theme of last years show was to introduce more
colour into the work. This was a result of six weeks in Italy and just
looking at art. It was just a fantastic trip; the colour from the Early
Renaissance work is amazing, and so I said to myself, If they could
do that kind of colour 500 years ago, what am I doing? So, there
wasthat real desire to introduce more colour and to have kind of a
lightness too.

You paint within the realm of still-life a genre you love. How do
you go about nding subject matter?
Well, invariably its things that come into the house, in a lot of cases
theyll be things that just start attracting my eye, and sometimes that
can be a quick thing. Theres a little jug of wooden spoons thats on
top of the fridge at the moment that has kept pulling at me for the last
week. So I go through a period of verication in a way, asking Is that
something that would be good to paint? There is also the thing of
questioning: Does it have what I want? Does it deserve to be painted?
Just because it looks good or is attractive or whatever, does it meet
the things that I want in my paintings?
What are some of the qualities of an object that draw you back and
speak to you, or make it deserving of being painted?
Sometimes it will be a formal visual quality, but this is never really
enough. Up until recently a signicant thing was the relationship
between the objects, and thats still there, but often its an irrational
relationship which many people have done for decades or centuries.
Theres no rational connection between them, yet within a still-life
they will have that conversation so it makes it an interesting thing.
Other times it might be the quirkiness; a little bit of humour like the
Random House box. That one is a good example of how things will
just kind of nag at me. I had a box of books at work, in a Random
House box, and they just sat on the oor in my ofce at work.

PROFILE John Honeywill


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Turkish delight II, 2013, oil on linen, 31 x 31cm


Meringue II, 2015, oil on linen, 71 x 92cm
Cup, bottle and bowl, 2013, oil on linen, 50 x 64cm
Zucchini flowers II, 2015, oil on linen, 56 x 56cm
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PROFILE John Honeywill

Theres a little jug of wooden


spoons on top of the fridge
at themoment that has kept
pullingat me for the last week.

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I kept looking at it and laughing at it and, Yeah, its a Random


House. But, it would have been a couple of weeks where, not really
on a conscious level, Id be looking at it and then eventually, I thought
Oh!. So, I brought it home, set it up with lighting and painted it.
There is a very conscious stillness to your paintings. They feel
likereally marked moments, like they are championing the
objectthemselves.
Its always amusing in that people often very graciously say that at my
exhibitions. Obviously thats something Im after, that stillness, but
thats also an absurdity. Its a painting, of course its going to be still.
But in reality it is a central aim of my work and something I am not
fully aware of if I have succeeded until I see an exhibition up.
But, as objects they are presented in isolation they stand alone,
quietly in the picture plain.
Well, the paintings are not naturalistic paintings in any way theyre
not a still-life of a domestic scene. That hasnt been something thats
ever interested me. What Im interested in is the act of looking,
perceiving an object and trying to capture more its presence, and

also the relationship to the space around it. Thats the most important
thing really, and thats why when I paint I do all the background rst
because that seems to be the most critical part for me.
Still-life painting sometimes gets a bad rap as being a bit old
fashioned or pass, in the context of contemporary art. I dont
necessarily think that, but Im interested to hear what it is that
draws you to the genre and your subject matter.
Art is about the relationship you have with your world and my world
is here, so there will be naturally that domestic aspect. It isnt about a
corner of the house, it is purely about the objecct to it, but my interest
in still-life isnt that domestic scene. It isnt about a corner of the
house, it is purely about the object and the objects are things that
llike. I like to paint objects which have served us, not on a
sentimental level but objects which have acquired a human quality
over time. Ive always wondered what it is about the singular nature

07
08

Roses, 2015, oil on linen, 92 x 71cm


Lavender, 2015, oil on linen, 56 x 56cm

09
10

Kimono, 2009, oil on linen, 74 x 100cm


Peonies, 2015, oil on linen, 92 x 71cm

11

96

Art is about the relationship you have with your world and my world is here, so there
will benaturally that domestic aspect to it, but my interest in still-life isnt that
domestic scene. It isnt about a corner of the house, it is purely about the object.
in my work often my works have that very singular central thing
which is potentially a very boring composition, but it is like an
offering in a sense. Sometimes it will be when people give me
something. A few years back Trish, my wife, gave me a bundle of
wrapped fabric, asking, How would this be to paint?. That is her
making me that offering, and in my painting it, it is a kind of return
offering I give back.
Youve said before that your paintings are often a conversation,
theyre talking to us about what they are, theyre histories
They all have meaning attached to them, whether its the meaning of
the fact that someone has given it to me or the meaning thats imbued
in the object. However, an intentional meaning is not something I
want to get caught up with paintings as a narrative. So thats why I
just always call them dumb names, like Lavender and Jar to avoid
that. But, at the same time they do have all that stuff in them, well
that is the hope.
www.johnhoneywill.com
John Honeywill is represented by Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
www.philipbacongalleries.com.au

11
12

Random House, 2009, oil on linen, 95 x 130cm


John Honeywills studio wall
12

Courtesy the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane

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Tony Twigg
STORY JEREMY ECCLES

Resettled in Australia after several productive years in the Philippines,


Tony Twiggs creative output encompasses his own well-travelled blend
of sculpture, painting, dance, puppets, film and found objects.

01

ARRIVING TO PARK IN THE DRIVE of Tony Twiggs southern


Sydney house-cum-studio, an impassioned voice commands me to
STOP! A substantial tree branch was under threat from my
advancing car a rare thing in this suburban spot. But found timber
has always been an essential element of Twiggs modus operandi.
Many years ago, he and I had gone scrabbling in the local bush to
find fallen branches that could retain their nature but also be cajoled
into shape on three-dimensional wall constructions to tell the story
that was top of his mind at the time.
Theres always a story, a history or her story which makes it
appropriate that Twiggs first show in Australia since 2011 at
Annandale Galleries in Sydney should be a survey of works from
1986 to the present. Its not that his earliest works, like the halfchair, half-puppet Event (1986/88) will necessarily look just as they
did 30 years ago. Twigg has always taken the view that an unsold
artwork can accumulate history and significance by being remade.
Its an accretion towards a legendary status through time the story
being told and retold, not necessarily better, just differently. Some
get worse, Twigg admits with a characteristic bark/laugh.

One old painting in Annandale, Life still life years (1989/1997/


2015) is enjoying its third working, and Im hoping to preserve the
original signature and the two previous dates in the final version, he
announces. But will it be the final version?
For the stimulus that arose from Bill Gregorys invitation to exhibit
at Annandale was to see where Id come from; to find out what of
the legend that Id invented in my early performance works actually
survives today. Id resettled in Australia after years of moving
around Asia, intending to simply spend time in the studio. But that
inevitably led to my going over my exhibiting history and touching
it. And remodelling a work lets you really see it.
Oddly, Asia had been in Twiggs earliest works in the 70s when it
was unvisited, simply exotic and different. Letter forms in early
paintings could be reduced to calligraphic gestures and expressive
shapes that then attained a humanity as puppets. I wanted to
include a story, a temporal element in my work, Twigg recalls,
something that could be received by an audience and passed on.
Performance in the broadest sense seemed a good way especially

PROFILE Tony Twigg

Tony Twigg collects images as he


moves through Asia, especially
the layering of materials such as
bamboo on timber

puppetry. That brought artworks to life; they were given experience,


and that somehow remained in them. Static on the wall, theyre still
articulated, as though theyve been alive. And dance was obviously
the next move.
At various stages in the 80s and 90s, Tony Twigg worked with the
Sydney Dance Company, the Canberra Dance Ensemble and
freelance choreographer Stephanie Burridge; also with theatre-maker
Euan Upston with whom he codied a xation for the number ve
the Five Sticks, or, possibly the ve ages of man that turn up again
and again in his oeuvre. And his short animated lm, A Passion Play
was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
In the early 90s, his entropic legend of birth, life and death became
more specic following an encounter with the sad story of Mary Jane
Hicks, a serving girl in pre-Federation Sydney, gang-raped by larrikins
in Moore Park the so-called Mount Rennie Outrage. Several Surry
Hills youths were hanged as a result, despite the pleas of The Bulletin
that such excess was only being meted out because Australia needed
to look mature enough to be independent from Britain. Working with
historian Juliet Pierse, he turned Mary Jane Hicks into a dramatic
visual experience which circumferenced whole galleries at public
institutions in Wollongong, Brisbane and Lanyon, Canberra.
Returning from an overseas lm festival, Tony Twigg dropped in
onartist friend Keith Looby, who was enjoying an artist residency
inManila. It was a fateful move. He became captivated by the
Philippines, its colonial past and its struggles to nd its own ways
through Catholicism, American imperialism and its own inherent
corruption. He also discovered Ian Fairweathers work in The
Philippines, seeking out the almost unchanged places in Manila and
Mindanao that in the 1930s had inspired the peripatetic Scots
workssuch as Anak Bayan.
But, living and working there, Twiggs Aussie legends had no meaning
and went covert under those circumstances. The suitcase of the
traveller entered his lexicon, as did an abstraction that was a brilliant
reection of the apparently random shanty construction aesthetic that
dominates impoverished housing across the country. Spontaneous
Architecture he called it in one show in Manila, where, he says, the
locals saw themselves in it. As Dr Paul McGillick put it in the Twigg
monograph, Encountering the Object, Twigg collects images as he moves
through Asia, especially the layering of materials such as bamboo on
timber; that kind of arm wrestle between the organic and the urge to
achieve some order.
02

01
02

Beginning + end, 1999-2015-12-02, oil and enamel paint on


timber construction, 72 x 215cm
(puppet) Act without words, 1986-1988, oil paint on timber
construction, 135 x 49 x 36cm

Thats also a pretty fair description of Tony Twiggs work discovering


a sort of order from the blend of machined and found pieces of natural
timber. And what could be more ordered than the circle? Much of the
artists recent work has been entitled Expanded Disc.
I was pushing the circle around, explains Twigg, I guess I was
trying to get some of Motherwells rhythms into my work, hoping to
nd a visual structure that strikes something deep and universal. It
just happened one day slicing a circle, pulling it apart and nding
that beautiful form. Motherwell stumbled on his in the 40s when he

99

Twiggs chairs have ceased


to have a seating function
as theyre re-modelled to
conjure sensations in the
minds eye of music-stands
... puppets that might just
spring into life

100

03

04

was illustrating the Lorca poem, At Five in the Afternoon which


went on to become his epic cycle of paintings and collages, Elegy for
the Spanish Republic. He said himself that there were layers of
mistakes in those works, layers of consciousness which an X-ray
could disclose. But it was only by nding a freedom from conscious
notions that he could nd the unknown.
In 2011, Tony Twigg linked his Philippines obsession with this
Motherwell interest in the show, Elegy to the Spanish Colony, introducing
Sydney to his expanded discs as well as to the enigmatic country that
can be approached but not grasped and the city (Manila) thats
careering between abrupt conclusion and miraculous salvation!
One might argue that shutting down the negative spaces in one of
Twiggs discs and reforming the perfect circle would resolve the
tension created by its expansion and engender a sense of miraculous
salvation. For, in Twigg there is the rare combination of idea and
aesthetic which lifts art from the slough of pure conceptualism and
which has turned so many off the visual in the last half century. After
the wonderful Dadaist gesture by Duchamp in presenting an ordinary
urinal as art, could he have predicted that Ai Wei Wei would become
world-famous for sending 1001 of his fellow-Chinese to the Kassel
Documenta XII, along with 1001 Ching Dynasty chairs? Chairs
hadcome into his life as a result of Joseph Kosuths One and Three
Chairs from 1965, which hung a chair, a photo of the chair and a
05

PROFILE Tony Twigg

06

printout of the denition of the word chair side by side on a


wallto test the mind, but not necessarily the ocular nerves, with
the question, What constitutes a chair?.

101

Twigg offers chairs in his work Sleazen (2010/15). But his chairs
have ceased to have a seating function as theyre re-modelled to
conjure sensations in the minds eye of music-stands, possibly even
Star Wars stormtroopers and puppets that might just spring into
life. Indeed, dancers will perform with them in the Annandale
Galleries during Art Month.
Theyll also perform with the Twigg suitcase or at least its
skeleton. This certainly needed to be brought home from the
Philippines. Go to the National Museum in Canberra and see
historian John Mulvaneys Globite port, and you will see the
receptacle in which the bones of Mungo Lady were transported to
the Australian National University in Canberra for study after she
was discovered in the sand dunes at Lake Mungo in 1969.
Inelegant but it was the only container available. For Twigg, this
links his humble suitcase to the worlds then earliest example of
ritual burial practice, about 40,000 years ago, which not only
proved the extreme antiquity of Aboriginal civilisation but also
placed its origins in a ceremonial context. That suitcase is, for him,
the essence of Aussie identity.
So, the traveller returns to his wellspring from a not-undiscovered
country refreshed.
07

EXHIBITIONS
Moonbathing: March 2
Nature Morte/Still Life: March 12
Annandale Galleries

03

Tony Twigg is represented by Annandale Galleries.


www.annandalegalleries.com.au

04
05
06
07

Expanded disc stand on point, 2015, enamel paint on timber construction,


120 x 122cm
Grove, 2004-2015, enamel paint on timber construction, 278 x 173 x 106cm
The casting, 1998-2014, found objects and enamel paint on timber construction,
67 x 78 x 42cm
Tony Twigg in the carpentry shop, photographer Jim Anderson
Costumes, 1991-2014, fabric paint on cloth and wooden frame, 115 x 138cm

Courtesy the artist and Annandale Galleries

01

03

02

04

102

Johnny Romeo
Johnny Romeo is known for his energetic and visually arresting paintings that deal with
Pop culture. ARTIST PROFILE recently talked with the artist about his influences, his
relationship with street art, his studio process and what lies in the darker recesses of Pop.

01
02

Grope Hope, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 120 x 120cm


Blood Brass, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 120 x 120cm

03
04

Drill Grill, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 120 x 120cm


Bank Roller, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 101 x 101cm

05

Johnny Romeo in his studio,


Photographer Sascha Raeburn

HOW CONSTRUCTED ARE YOUR


images are they experimental,
instinctual or narrative-based?
The construction and deconstruction of
cultural iconography lies at the heart of my
work. I am constantly exploring how we
experience and interpret Pop culture in our
everyday lives. In the initial stages of my
art-making, I use sourced imagery in quite
an experimental way, chopping and
changing its meaning by applying a variety
of word assemblages to see how they resonate.
The degree of chance exercised inthis
process allows me to explore the Pop
landscape, while looking for narratives to
express through my work. All of the images
that I draw on within my paintings already
come with their own constructions that help
to reveal some aspect of the contemporary
Popworld, from its glossy veneer to its seamy underbelly.

104

Do you have any particular influences or inspirations?


The cult of celebrity and the banality of everyday advertising continue
to be the main inspirations for my art-making practice. I consider
myself to be an avid Pop culture enthusiast, and an active Pop participant.
Its impossible for me to ever abandon the Pure Pop mentality that I
approach my works with, because it is a reality that I live and breathe
every day. Pop for me is the great leveller, in that we all are immersed
in its world and are drawn to it, mesmerised and consumed by it. From
lm to popular music, brand names and logos to cartoon heroes, its
an undeniable facet of contemporary life. While the saccharine sweet
hues often come across as celebratory in tone, Im also interested in
exploring the darker recesses of Pop. That juxtaposition between light
and dark, youthful innocence and urban disillusionment, gives my
work an edge that speaks to our common experiences.
As an artist who extends upon the Pop tradition, Ive been inspired by
the works of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist.
Their inuence has really coloured my deep interest in exploring
cultural kitsch, celebrity icons and brand name logos in my paintings,
and my desire to break down the barriers between high and low. My
fascination with depicting comic book heroes and cartoon characters
also draws from the efforts of more recent Pop practitioners like
Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Richard Prince and Ronnie Cutrone.
How important is photography, sourcing images and reference
materials to the development of ideas in your work?
We are surrounded by modern cultures inuences everywhere, from
print media and the internet, to iconic photography and advertising at
a bus stop. Photography, sourcing images and reference material thus
all have a major role in the development of ideas in my work. My desire
to create will often be triggered by something as simple as icking
through old comic books, trashy celebrity magazines or old rocknroll
lyrics sheets. Im constantly on the lookout for the next artistic x.
Once I have developed the foundational ideas for a work, I then go
out and source further suitable images, either personally or through
my assistants. Through a series of sketches and workshopping images,
I then imbue them with my own personal views. There is a great sense
of artistic satisfaction in transforming impersonalised Pop icons into
something of your own, and this helps me to make sense of the
cultural imagery that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. I guess
I would like to encourage audiences to look beyond the supercial
veneer of icons, to re-examine why certain Pop culture imagery
resonates with them in a certain way.
Where do you see your work heading in the future?
Im at quite an interesting juncture in my career at the moment. On
the one hand, I feel like Ive really developed a distinctive voice and
identity with my art-making. By upping the ante on the Pop elements
of my paintings, Ive been able to better articulate my hyper-saturated,
Technicolor visions of contemporary Pop culture. At the same time,
my transition from the grafti of my youth to the white walls of gallery
spaces has led me to make art that is more rened and deliberate.

06

07

Iwould love to return to some of the looseness and semi-guration of


my earlier paintings. Growing up, I was inspired by punk rock, skateculture and grafti. My earlier works reected the primal urgency
and rawness of those subcultures, and often eschewed guration to
highlight the frenetic, Expressionist energy and youthful desperation
I was immersed in at the time. It would be exciting, perhaps liberating,
to approach works in a far more spontaneous manner, to have a more
immediate and emotional relationship with the creation of works.
So you associate your work with street art?
Street art and grafti have always been an inuence. Conceptually,
the use of grafti by culture jamming crews such as Ad-Busters has
informed the way in which I appropriate and subvert cultural icons to
critique Pop culture and provoke reactions. Growing up in inner-city
Sydney, I was particularly inspired by the radical subvertising of the
BUGA UP movement. Hanging out with my friends near the train
lines as a teenager, cigarette and alcohol ads were everywhere. I was
blown away by the way BUGA UP activists would use grafti and
paint-bombs to reface billboards to raise public awareness and
generate dialogue. BUGA UP really opened my eyes to the idea that
our communication with advertising does not need to be one-sided.
Itwas exhilarating to discover that art and grafti could be used as a
means of responding to the media we encounter in our everyday lives,
as a way of reclaiming public space and increasing community
awareness of the shared nature of the visual environment.
My penchant for text assemblages and bold, stencil-like imagery all
nd their roots in the tags and cartoon imagery I used to spray-paint
as a young grafti artist. While I have long since abandoned my spray
cans in favour of oil sticks, my afnity with street art and its processes
helps me to recall those wilder days, where I was simply an energetic
kid on a skateboard, tagging, drawing and painting my youth away.
Having said that, I dont consider my work as being street art per se.
While I adopt the ethos and techniques of street art in my works,
myaim now is to bridge the divide between grafti and ne art. My
paintings are a melting pot of all of my inuences: Expressionism,
Neo-Expressionism, Cubism, Fauvism and street art.
You have an intelligent use of text in conjunction with your
imagery. Does this contribute to the currency of your images?
The use of language in my paintings is important. I often like to think
of the text in my paintings as television ad breaks on the canvas,
ltered through the syncopated cadence of Beat poetry and rap music.
Much like a lyricist or a poet, I really strive to wring as many layers
ofmeaning as possible from the limited words I use in my paintings.
By placing restrictions on the rhyme and range of text in my works, I
maximise both the power and physical presence of words, particularly
in relation to my visual subject matter. Im always excited by the
possibilities that language and text offer in crafting meaning in my
work. The process of applying words, crossing them out and reworking them mimics the information overload that we are exposed to
through the 24-hour media apparatus. In many ways, the words that I
cross out and the implications that can be gleaned from my use of text
are as important as the text that is actually presented on canvas.

PROFILE Johnny Romeo

I often like to think


of the text in my
paintings as
television ad breaks
on the canvas,
filtered through the
syncopated cadence
of Beat poetry and
rap music.

105
08

Can you take us through how you work up a series in your


studio for exhibitions, from its initial conception?
Many of my exhibitions are sparked from small observations I
make riing through Pop culture. For example, I could be reading
Nirvana lyrics, I could be looking at aRichard Prince catalogue or
an artwork of a cowboy, Ill start pouring through second-hand
books of old Westerns, making notes and drawing up sketches. Its
those serendipitous encounters which are really rewarding for me.
The next development would be quite collaborative, and involve
me bouncing ideas off my assistants. Once Ive begun developing a
cohesive idea for a series, I discuss my direction with my in-house
writer. I nd this process useful in enabling me to sharpen my
ideas, and articulate them in a more focused manner. Ill then
approach my visual assistant with a bunch of books that Ive
sourced for example on a new series on Cowboys and ask him
for advice about the images he thinks best suits the theme. Well
discuss the selections, along with colours and the visual directions
for the series. At the same time Ill also experiment with word
combinations that Ive written down in my note-pad, to work out
how the text and visuals will interact.
The painting and drawing process is all adrenaline and controlled
chaos. Im a rm believer in the power of pure, concentrated
colour, trying to capture it at its boldest and most immersive state.
My studio assistant helps to reafrm my colour selections,
strengthening base coats to give them an extra hit. I throw myself
completely into my work, and that real sense of physicality and
energy is reected in the drawing up of my canvases. Using oilsticks gives me great control over my line-work. At the same time,
they allow me to blend and smudge, and this gives me the freedom

to be gestural and intuitive with my drawing as I cross out and


reinforce text and imagery. I always work with music blaring in the
background usually the classics like the Ramones, the Gunners or
some Tupac.
Social media also plays an important role in the development of a
series. As my paintings near completion, I sit down with my in-house
writer and my graphic designer to ne-tune the narratives that Im
trying to convey through my work. By actively engaging with social
media, I am able to re-package my ideas to the world, beyond the
walls of the gallery space. More than just a vehicle for generating
hype, I see social media as a way through which I can participate in
the very Pop culture that my works seek to consider and critique.
EXHIBITION
When we ruled the world
Linton & Kay Galleries at Mandoon Estate
Swan Valley, WA
14 March 4 April 2016
Johnny Romeo is represented by Linton & Kay Galleries, Perth and Mitchell
Fine Art, Brisbane.
www.johnnyromeo.net
www.lintonandkay.com.au
www.mitchellfinartgallery.com

06
07
08

Bull Head, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 120 x 120cm


Pigeon Crew, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 120 x 120cm
Cerro Sparrow, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas 120 x 120cm

Courtesy the artist

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Preview
ESSAY

REVIEW

108

132

THE 20TH BIENNALE OF


SYDNEY AND THE 2016
ADELAIDE BIENNIAL OF
AUSTRALIAN ART

MICK RICHARDS AND


MICHAEL AIRD: GREAT
COLLABORATIONS
by Kon Gouriotis

by Sara Sweet

136

BOOK REVIEW,
MODERN LOVE
by Judith Pugh

archive
116

139

SUBSCRIPTIONS

JOY HESTER:
A RECOLLECTION
BY KEN WHISSON
by Joe Frost

process
PREVIEW

140

PAUL MILLER
by Douglas Purnell

120

JAN SENBERGS

144

VIEW AUSTRALIA

by Steve Lopes

124

JOHN BEARD
by Kon Gouriotis

128

EUAN MACLEOD
by Kon Gouriotis

DISCOVERY
146

YIORYIOS

107

artistprole.com.au

th

20 Biennale Sydney
2016 Adelaide Biennial
of Australian Art
108

EARLY 2016 SEES TWO MAJOR


art events ll some of Australias most
recognisable venues and locations with an
ambitious selection of mixed media works.
The 20th Biennale of Sydney and the 2016
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art will run
during the same period to present projects
created by contemporary artists that dene
their practices.
With a 40-year history, the 20th Biennale
ofSydney was the rst of its kind to be
established in the Asia-Pacic region. It
remains one of the longest running periodic
exhibitions in the world, having presented
the work of nearly 1700 artists from over 100
countries. The Biennale is an international
platform that brings with it works for all to
appreciate throughout the city.
The second signicant event to take place
is the 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian
Art. Presented by the Art Gallery of
South Australia, the Adelaide Biennial is
the countrys longest-running survey of
contemporary art. With a commitment
to displaying the best of Australian
contemporary art to an audience as
broad as possible, the last four biennials
have delivered more than 100 Australian
contemporary artists to new audiences.
TheAdelaide Biennial will run as part of the
Adelaide Festival of Arts.
The 20th Biennale of Sydney is the AsiaPacics largest contemporary visual arts
event. The 2016 event will encompass the
creations of 71 artists dispersed across
seven venues. Dened as Embassies of

Thought the venues include: Cockatoo


Island Embassy of the Real; Art Gallery
of New South Wales Embassy of Spirits;
Carriageworks Embassy of Disappearance;
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Embassy of Translation; Artspace The
Embassy of Non-Participation; a bookshop
Embassy of Stanislaw Lem; and Mortuary
Station Embassy of Transition. A number
of in-between projects will also take place
throughout the city.
A new Artistic Director is appointed for each
Sydney Biennale and this year, Stephanie
Rosenthal lls the role. The 2016 Biennale
is titled, The future is already here its
just not evenly distributed. The title took
inspiration from a quote made by science
ction author, William Gibson, best known
for his landmark novel Neuromancer.
Rosenthal discusses the meaning behind the
chosen title, The Biennale is a lot about
the now, the present, and its not so much
about looking into what artists imagine for
the future but much more about how artists
helpus to think about today. For me, thats
very relevant in relation to contemporary
art at the moment. Our today is so complex,
theres so many aspects that we havent
really, totally digested.
It is a privilege for those who have an
education, who have a job and have access
to computers, phones and the internet when
it is a small percentage of the world who
are able to do so. Rosenthal believes that it
is this separation between people that we
need to be constantly aware of. Through

ESSAY
SARA
SWEET

her research, she came to discover that


there isnt that one urgency, there are many
current investigations. She says, I felt that
I can maybe pull and investigate all of these
different themes and say that these are
constellations of thoughts which are relevant
at the moment.
Around 70 per cent of the artists have
created new commission pieces for the
Biennale. Many of the artists expressed that
they would prefer to exhibit a new piece
and Rosenthal encouraged this decision.
The artists are granted the opportunity and
allowed the freedom to push boundaries, take
the next step and develop their skills, rather
than being restricted within a particular
framework. An important component for the
Sydney Biennale is that the artists consider
the space, surroundings and architecture as
this makes for a strong exhibition. The artist
must establish a conversation with the space.
Viewers can expect to see spellbinding,
large-scale pieces as well as the more subtle
and arduously employed smaller works.
Artist Lee Bul is featured in this years
Sydney Biennale. Her immersive and nely
nessed sculptures are representative of her
architectural inuence. Buls practice delves
into areas such as the legacy of modernism,
the potential of technology, gender and
sexuality, the body and the mechanistic.
The human obsession with perfection is also
studied. When engrossed by the presence
of her installations, it can feel as though the
makings of a dream have been stumbled
upon and interrupted, pausing to enable the
freedom of observation. For the Biennale,

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Lee Mingwei, Guernica in Sand, 2006 and 2015, mixed-media interactive installation, sand, wooden island,
lighting, 1300 x 643cm, photographer Taipei Fine Arts. Courtesy of JUT Museum Pre-Opening Ofice, Taipei.

ESSAY 20th Biennale Sydney/ 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art

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Bul will deliver a newly commissioned sitespecic installation which involves smoke,
large balloons and LED lights which prompt
afuturistic vision of a nearly living city.

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alluding to the idea of impermanence.

Bharti Khers practice investigates the


readymade, minimalism, repetition, identity,
transformation, mythology and narratives.
Viewers will face ve of her life-sized female
sculptures, each sitting motionlessly in their
designated positions. The poses of the visibly
exposed gures elicit a meditative mood as
they appear to calmly rest their hands on their
knees with closed eyes.

Having people wander through the city of


Sydney to unexpectedly nd themselves
within the vicinity of an artwork is one of the
Biennales most effective attributes. Works of
all kinds are capable of changing perspectives.
As Rosenthal explains, I do think there are
things that, of course, dont change your life in
everyday ways but they might just change the
way of how you look at things and how youre
interested in them. I believe that contemporary
art has a role of teaching us to think critically
and to look at things differently.

Lee Mingwei has previously made


installations of participation where viewers
were encouraged to join the artist in acts such
as eating, sleeping, walking and conversation.
For the Sydney Biennale, Mingwei will
present an iteration of Guernica in Sand
(2016). He will precisely recreate, through
the use of sand, Pablo Picassos painting
Guernica (1937) a painting that was made
in response to the massacre of Basque civilians
during the Spanish Civil War. The sand
is then wiped away with bamboo brooms,

The works that form this years Sydney


Biennale make a statement, they are evocative
on multiple levels and at the same time, they
are critical about what is currently occurring.
Viewers may be inspired, they may feel that
they could perhaps do something, anything, as
a result of what they have just seen. Another
way of looking at the works is to simply sit
and be still, to observe, ponder and think
quietly, the feeling when you get very calm,
when you just sit and look at work, you could
just be there forever.

artistprofile.com.au

Its the charter, the


raisondetre, of the
Adelaide Biennial to
expand audiences
forcontemporary
Australianart. It is
alsothe motivation
behind expanding
thepresence of the
exhibitionacross the city.

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Our second major art event is the 2016


Adelaide Biennial of Australia Art. Magic
Object is the title given to this years
Adelaide Biennial, a title composed by
Curator and Assistant Director, Lisa Slade.
Magic Object will see photography,
painting, performance, sculpture, installation
and the moving image distributed across
venues including The Art Gallery of South
Australia; the Anne & Gordon Samstag
Museum of Art; JamFactory; Carrick Hill;
and the Santos Museum of Economic Botany
in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. With the
works of 24 artists spread across the venues,
the Adelaide Biennial aims to attract and
reach a larger audience than ever before.
The Adelaide Biennial illustrates Slades

avid interest in the Wunderkammer, which


translates as a room of wonders. This sees
the works of the artists in this years Biennial
venture into places of wonder, curiosity
and enchantment. In discussing her abiding
obsession with the Wunderkammer, Slade
says, I think its something about the desire
to grasp the world and hold it close in order
to fathom its secrets and mysteries. Within
the Wunderkammer objects were endowed
with magical properties. Of course, the
objects themselves were often latent their
power was derived from what was projected
onto them. Slade views this as the case
for contemporary artists who she regards
as modern day magicians who invest
materials with a potency and poetry, and
so the exhibition leaps across 500 years of

ESSAY 20th Biennale Sydney/ 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art


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Lee Bul, Aubade III, 2014 (detail). Installation view (2014) at MMCA Hyundai Motor Series
2014: Lee Bul, photographer Jeon Byung-cheol. Courtesy National Museum of Modern and
Contemporary Art, Korea.
Marco Chiandetti, Sculpture for a Bird (Barn Owl), 2015, ceramic, Barn Owl, 14 x 15 x 19cm,
photographer Willem-Dirk du Toit. Courtesy the artist.
Ming Wong, Windows On The World (Part 1), 2014, mixed media installation with video,
photographer Glenn Eugen Ellingsen. Courtesy of Para Site and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.
Richard Bell, White Invaders You Are Living on Stolen Land, 2014, synthetic polymer paint on
board, 90 x 120cm. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
Richard Bell, Embassy, installation view, 2013, at the 5th Moscow Biennale, Moscow,
Photographer Yackov Petchenin. Courtesy Moscow Biennale Art Foundation, Moscow.
Jamie North, Terraforms, (installation view), 2014, cement, marble waste, limestone, steel slag, coal
ash, plastic ibre, tree fern slab, Australian native plant species and Spanish moss, heights 165,

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191, 223cm, all widths and lengths 26 x 26cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery.
Photograph by Ashley Barber.
Bharti Kher, Untitled, 2013, plaster of paris, wood, metal, each statue 123 x 61 x 96cm,
photographer PeterBeyes. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
Garry Stewart & Thomas Pachoud, Proximity Interactive, 2014, interactive multimedia
installation, installation dimensions variable, photographer Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions
Courtesy the artists and Australian Dance Theatre, Adelaide.
Gareth Sansom, And thus I clothe my naked villainy, With odd old ends stoln out of Holy
Writ, And seem a saint when most I play the devil, 2013-15, oil, enamel and pencil on canvas,
183 x 169cm (each panel), 183 x 507cm (overall), photographer Andrew Curtis. Courtesy the
artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
Loongkoonan, Nyikina people, Bush Tucker in Nyikina Country, 2006, acrylic on linen, 61 x
61cm. Courtesy the artist and Mossenson Galleries.

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Hiromi Tangos sculptures deeply plant within the work a symbolic story. Breaking Cycle
(lizard tail), considers the lizards self-defence mechanism of losing its tail to growing
another. Tango questions that if people had the power to shed parts of themselves in the
same way that the lizard does, could they heal their traumas and regenerate?
collecting history to consider the encounter
with contemporary art as one that has
much in common with the phenomenon of
encountering wonder in Wunderkammer.
She views the artists as contemporary
conjurors, who operate similarly to
magicians where hard work, repetition,
risk and experimentation result in a
transformative experience for the viewer.
Featured among the Adelaide Biennials
artists is Hiromi Tango, who incorporates
mediums such as performance and
sculpture. Her sculptures are skillfully
entwined with carefully chosen materials
and objects that deeply plant within the
work a symbolic and personal story.
Breaking Cycle (lizard tail), considers
thelizards self-defence mechanism of
losingits tail to growing another. Tango
questions that if people had the power to
shed parts of themselves in the same way
that the lizard does, could they heal their
traumas and regenerate?
Born in 1910, Loongkoonan is one of
Australias oldest living practising artists.
Her paintings depict her travels made on
foot over Nyikina country. Her connection

to country is cemented in every painting.


The colourful compositions of dotted
imagery signify prominent features of the
land including rivers, mountains and snakes.
The paintings act as recordings of the
signicant knowledge gained from the times
that the artist walked the Nyikina country.
A series of photographic images together
with works on paper by artist Danie Mellor
will be on display. Mellors art practice is
informed by his Indigenous heritage. He
has demonstrated through his imagery the
cultural differences between Indigenous
and non-Indigenous Australia. The works
selected for the Adelaide Biennial continue
the artists consistent use of blue imagery.
The layering of ora is imposed against an
exposed whitened sky, and the shadowing
and scattered lighting illuminates particular
areas, sending the viewers gaze deeper and
further inwards, resulting in a search for
something unknown.
Space is a signicant contributor in
connecting the viewer to each piece. The
exhibition is in many ways about space,
Slade reveals. The space between us
and objects, the space between artists
and audiences and ultimately, the space
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ESSAY 20th Biennale Sydney/ 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art

15

between us and the world. When asked


how important events such as the Biennial
are atwidening public engagement with
Australian contemporary art, Slade responds,
Its the charter, the raison detre, of the
Adelaide Biennial to expand audiences for
contemporary Australian art. It is also the
motivation behind expanding the presence
of the exhibition across the city.
The 20th Biennale of Sydney and the 2016
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
centralise on works that raise issues, make
statements and inspire ideas. The two
exhibitions will give a widened
understanding and appreciation of the art
being produced by Australian and
international artists today. Through the
events, artists are provided with
opportunities to further their practices,
realise new projects and widen their
exposure to new audiences. It is within these
and embassies of thoughts and spaces of
enchantment that viewers will possibly see
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new ideas and concepts, ones that may be


new considerations for some. Thetwo
events are not only to be enjoyed by art
patrons but are also for those who are
unfamiliar with or curious about art. The
exhibitions come down to what viewers
willperceive and what they will take away.
A fullling experience awaits those who
decide to disconnect briey from the
everyday to cleanse their creative and
imaginative perspectives.
EXHIBITION
The Future Is Already Here Its Just Not
EvenlyDistributed
20th Biennale of Sydney
18 March 5 June
www.biennaleofsydney.com.au
EXHIBITION
Magic Object
2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
27 February 15 May
www.adelaidebiennial.com.au

Hiromi Tango, Breaking Cycle (lizard tail) #3, 2015, pigment print on paper, 81 x 170cm, ed. of 6 + 2AP. Courtesy
the artist and Sullivan Strumpf, Sydney
Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Man With Mask, (detail), 2015, earthenware, glaze, gold, platinum and copper lustre,
epoxy putty and glass, 104 x 32 x 26cm, photographer Simon Hewson. Courtesy the artist and Gallery 9, Sydney.
Danie Mellor, Mamu, Ngagen and Ngajan people, Queensland, On a noncorreolationist thought I-XIV, 2016, c-print
on metallic photographic paper, 14 images, each 80cm (diameter), edition of 3. Courtesy the artist, Jan Murphy
Gallery, Brisbane and Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne.
Clare Milledge, A Ninja in a Bread, 2015, oil on tempered glass and bronze, 130 x 130cm. Courtesy the artist and
The Commercial Gallery, Sydney.

Courtesy the artists, the Biennale of Sydney and the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art

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ARCHIVE Ken Whisson on Joy Hester

JOY
HESTER:
a recollection
by Ken Whisson
STORY JOE FROST
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When teenage Ken Whisson met


artists Joy Hester, her husband
Albert Tucker and the Reeds avantgarde circle in 1940s Melbourne, his
creative education truly began.

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Love, 1949, brush and ink on paper, 31 x 25cm


Self, 1940 [Joy Hester 1940], gelatin silver contact print,
4 x 5cm, photographer Albert Tucker

MELBOURNES YOUNG ARTISTS of


the 1940s, the avant-garde then derided as
Modernists and later known as the Angry
Penguins, gave Australian art one of its most
important moments of social and aesthetic
transgression. The time Ken Whisson spent
with the group while still in his teens was
an education in art like no other, visiting
Albert Tuckers studio, painting with Danila
Vassilieff as a teacher, and discovering
Sidney Nolans electrifying new Australian
landscapes, prior to the Kelly series.

seven years his senior, Hester was still in her


early 20s when their paths crossed and yet
to produce the work that would distinguish
her as an original, many would say visionary
artist. But thinking back to that time (it was
around 1943, with the Second World War
grinding on and no conclusion in sight), while
he saw nothing that gave any full impression
of the work Ive seen since, Whissons
memory is of an impressive sensibility.

Its almost apt to say that Whisson was born


into the family of this milieu, as his cousin
Pauline, with her husband Jack McCarthy,
owned one of the artists haunts, a lending
library which Whisson fondly describes as a
detective, mystery and romance library, with
rooms behind with lots of prints on the walls.

I think the first time I met her was when


I went with the McCarthys to visit Bert
and Joy in their house at Robe Street in St
Kilda (Bert, Albert Tucker, was Hesters
husband). I was 16 or 17. It was quite
wonderful and Tucker was painting at his
very best at that point. Up on the walls were
the very best paintings of his St Kilda trams
and tramlines, just done.

Even from the distance of 70 years, Joy


Hester remains lucent in his memory. Only

Then there were a whole lot of Joys


drawings of Matcham Skippers gypsy wife.

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I remember saying to Bert, theyre so good.


Theres nothing of any semblance of those
that Ive seen since in books. What happened
to them goodness knows. They werent like
the drawings we now know her for but they
were very good.
Whissons rst recognition that Hester was
maturing towards something unique came
later. The rst one that made an impression
on me, and the only one for years, was a pen
drawing in Angry Penguins. A very nervous
line which impressed me so much, I was
struck forcibly by that drawing.
As the occasions when Whisson saw
Hester tended to be gatherings of friends,
he had ample opportunity to observe how
the lights and shadows of her character
showed in company. So feminine and so
extrovert, Whisson remembers. Such
a burst of emotion. She felt she had been
locked out theback door, out into the yard
atMcCarthys place one time. They probably
had locked her out for fun except she went
absolutely wild, shouting and screaming as
though something horrible had happened,
when nothing had happened.
Whisson recalls that Hester was not averse
to some teasing of her own, provoking him
the young newcomer with a coarse joke
or two just to see his reaction, a memory
he clearly cherishes. This playful streak, of
deance softened by humour, was a strength
he thinks may have fortied Hester in her
most signicant relationships. In relation to
Sunday Reed, they had known each other for

a very long time and had established a very


close friendship. I was at Bert Tuckers place
and Joy was saying that Sunday believed
she had a poltergeist now because Tucker
believed in poltergeists and she said you
can only have poltergeists if youre a virgin.
But I wonder, I wonder, perhaps Sundays
become a virgin again.
This told me several things that even when
she has a close friendship and respect and
admiration for somebody as she had for
Sunday Reed, she was completely detached
just the same; and even though she went
along with Tucker in this belief in poltergeists,
she could be detached about that as well,
following him in word but not in her mind.
As far as her personality is concerned, he
continues, the impression was of a very
feminine extroversion and spontaneity,
combined with a very real intuitive
intelligence and comprehension of the world
surrounding her. I can remember her quoting
Henry Miller once in relation to men on the
aeroplane talking about nothing but business
buying and selling and when an attractive
hostess went by they looked up for a moment,
then immediately went back to business. She
was very good at encapsulating the upside
down values of the world.
The picture of Hester that accrues from
each anecdote and impression is of an artist
for whom one-to-one human relationships
were the essence of life and the source of her
creative drive, and it is perhaps not surprising
that she showed less interest than many of

her circle in overarching theories of art or


hypotheses about the political signicance
ofthe work they were doing.
Tucker, Nolan and the Boyds belonged
to the Communist Party for a time, but I
have no conscious memory of Joy talking
seriously about Communism. She was really
affected by the revelation of the German
concentration camps. She did some drawings
of those, attempts to represent them, which
shows just how much she was affected by
that. Everybody was. Shown in the newsreels
at the theatres, the Jews coming out of
the gates, and behind the fences when the
Russians rst came to release them. The
horror of the whole thing.
Leang through a monograph on Hester,
Whisson attributes the shocking radiance of
her best work to her capacity for approaching
each picture as a creation formed uniquely
in that moment. He points out that when the
Angry Penguins went their separate ways
after the war and, with the distinct exception
of Albert Tucker, gradually lost the sense
of purpose that had propelled them to their
remarkable early achievements, Hester came
into her own.
An important characteristic of Joy was
her independence and originality. And
this includes total independence lack of
inuence of any kind from the powerful
work and personality of her husband Albert
Tucker. Some indirect inuence one would
say came from Vassilieff and Nolan, but more
importantly from German Expressionism.

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ARCHIVE Ken Whisson on Joy Hester

The impression was of a very


feminine extroversion and
spontaneity, combined with
an intuitive intelligence and
comprehension of the world.

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119

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I had this idea about German Expressionism


that it contained the possibility of something
beyond itself, and shes one of the people
who took it way beyond itself, its spirit
taken to what it should and might have been
meaning the negation of contemporary
cultures banality, slickness and superciality.
Not a head-on conscious negation, as was
thecase with German Expressionism this
was their mistake but a more immediate
and spontaneous ignoring of the banality
of our surrounding culture; and thereby
drawing and painting with the direct focus
and hit-and-miss process that are required
to make the above possible. The value of
her work is she jumps from one thing into
another; a continuous attempt to drive it into
a new direction.

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Joy Hester was diagnosed with Hodgkins


lymphoma at the age of 27, a condition she
succumbed to at 40. Highly productive
through the last decade of her life, it is
testament to the strength of spirit Whisson
observed in her that during the 1950s a
horribly bleak time for Australian artists as
he experienced it she remained true to a
discomting vision that ran against the grain
of mainstream society.

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John, me, Sun, Sweeney, Nolan, Pt Lonsdale June, 1945,


gelatin silver contact print, 4 x 5cm, photographer Albert
Tucker
Woman in a Fur Coat (self portrait), c.1955-56, brush and
ink on paper, 37 x 26cm
Woman with Hood, ink on paper, dimensions unknown
Sunday and I [Joy Hester] in train going to Pt Lonsdale,
1945, gelatin silver contact print, 4 x 5cm, photographer
Albert Tucker
Ken Whisson, Waterstain Face, 2007, pencil 24 x 18cm
Me [Joy Hester] 1940 E. Melbourne George St. gelatin
silver contact print, 4 x 5cm, photographer Albert Tucker

Courtesy the artist, Albert Tucker Photographic Collection,


HeideMuseum of Modern Art, State Library of Victoria, Gould
Galleries, Melbourne and Watters Gallery, Sydney.

01

Jan Senbergs
PREVIEW STEVE LOPES

JAN SENBERGS HAS CARVED OUT


a formidable career as one of Australias
most inventive and respected artists.
Senbergs work has been characterised by a
fundamental humanist vision, a finely-honed
sense of the absurd, and a rigorous studio
practice spanning printmaking, drawing
and painting. He has lived and worked in
Melbourne since his arrival as a 10-year-old
immigrant from his country of birth, Latvia,
and now his home city has honoured the
artist with a much-anticipated retrospective.
The artist has worked closely with National
Gallery of Victoria curator Elena Taylor to
put together a representative and wholly
satisfying arc of Senbergs oeuvre or, as the
artist himself puts it, the whole catastrophe.
Senbergs art has never been self-conscious
or parochial in view. His vision has been
global and the work broadly deals with the
concerns of what the prescient artist termed
in the 70s, our anxious settlements ideas

PREVIEW Jan Senbergs

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sorts of surprises when fossicking through


past work that you have forgotten about, and
wondering if there should be some interest in
it. The surprise comes when another person
sees some paintings very differently to the
way you see them. The whole process was a
very democratic way of dealing with things
and it took a long time to work out what
would go in the show. What was difficult was
culling things out that I really wanted people
to see. We would have a debate between us
and we worked very amicably throughout,
but it was more a case of culling rather than
selecting. I couldve filled that space three
times over! Of course being a painter you
see the model of the exhibition space and
you want to fill it with more paintings than
a curator does. The curator and gallery
are looking for a sparser look, more space
between the images. With that in mind
not all of the artists series could fit into the
hang. Works from interesting periods such
as Barcelona, Bundanon and even his Mount
Lyell explorations were causalities of the cull.
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that deal with the challenges of progress and


growth. Senbergs solid working methods
and anti fashion have provided a great
counter to a fickle art world art that has
been created with a broad social engagement
and has stood the test of time. This exhibition
is a marker of what artists can achieve
through persistence and hope.
The current show provides a marvellous
opportunity to appreciate the imagination
and inventiveness sustained over a long
period of time. Cleverly curated over four large
rooms at the NGV Australia, Federation
Square, the exhibition will include paintings,
drawings and prints from his first exhibition
in 1960 until the present day, borrowed from
public and private collections.

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Senbergs has spent the best part of a year


going through his work with curator Elena
Taylor, making selections for the final cull,
so I asked him how tough was it to make the
selections. Its been a strange experience, all

The exhibition discovers hidden gems that


have not been seen in Australia before. The
artist says, There were surprises like some
of the paintings from America when I was
teaching there. I was very glad to discover
a work from Boston that was rolled up, and
one of the last things I did in the USA. It
was a work that was between my stages of
painting and leading onto more of a drawing
area. Other paintings that surprised me that
were good to see were the Night Parade
works from around 1965, which were down
at Mornington Peninsula Gallery.
Works like that havent been shown before,
but as for my earlier paintings, Elena was
very keen to put them in and I was quietly
hoping she wouldnt be so keen, he says

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Buckleys Cave, 1996, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 259cm


Ola Barcelona! 2002,
Altered Parliament House, 1976, oil and screenprint on
canvas, 183 x 244cm
The Flyer, 1975, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas,
167 x 244cm
Barcelona, 2002, acrylic on paper, 40 x 51cm

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Technically the big black outline is a big


part of the solidity of Senbergs graphic
images its thickness, richness of depth
and delineation. Senbergs deliberates on the
importance of these qualities to his work,
saying, Drawing over the years has become
more and more important to my work.
Sometimes the distinction between drawing
and painting for me is blurring. For the
larger works, Ive preferred to use a black
pastel, as mark-maker it makes you work
directly, but you can achieve a subtlety of
line by manipulating it from the full mark to
the thin-edged or softer, lighter marking. Its
all about making the primitive mark and even
with all the new methods in our digital age
its as relevant as ever.

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122

with a laugh. I think shes right though. Its


important to include these awkward and
earnest attempts as dark and ugly. Some of
them were my dark blacks as I called them;
then in the 60s I went through what I called
my axle grease period of larger works on
Masonite sheets with some built-up surfaces.
Normally in a show like this one would start
chronologically with these formative works
but we decided to start with an introductory
room of various pieces showing some later
aspects of my work instead of leading into
the early phase straight away. Despite their
untaught earnestness these early works for
me had a ray of optimism, and the ugliness
Ihoped was what Picasso called the ugliness
of all true beginnings.
Maintaining his tough vision was never easy.
Senbergs has always said his rst priority in
art is to make sure a painting works in
visual terms of structure and concept. Narrative
then comes in a distant second, depending on
the subject. The early pictures in the exhibition
show a resolution to create something new.
He regales me with a story about this
stage of his career in 1964. I was painting
at a friends house at Shoreham on the
Mornington Peninsula, and John Reed
came over with Sweeney Reed. Id never
met the man. John looked rather stern, and
after briey looking at some of my paintings
you could sense there were certainly no
bells ringing for him there and probably
thinking what the hell he was doing here
after travelling from the city. After staying for
only ve minutes he said as he was leaving,
Jan I really dont know where these paintings
could possibly take you why persist? And
as he was leaving I thought to myself, well
fuck you! Youve had your run with your
period, and Im trying something different.

It stung, coming from someone at that time


who was supposedly so signicant and
yourself full of self-doubt. It was an early
lesson to absorb the blows but not be cowed
by them. Its a continual verity that young
artists have to learn to this day. I was hoping
to move on from that, because at that time
as a young painter one is nave and full of
hope. I was inuenced by Leonard French a
lot and for me that period reminds me of an
optimism ... and I didnt know what else to
do quite frankly! he laughingly adds.
Senbergs is looking forward to how a
younger generation sees and responds to his
work. Hopefully they might see something
that might suggest a way of doing things, not
so much technically but philosophically.
Technically the show reveals the artist as a
master of line. There has always been a
structural solidity in the way Senbergs works.
A marked change in his image-making
developed during his early Port Liardet
paintings in the late 70s. He focused on an
area of Port Melbourne where his art has
drawn a lot of inspiration from. These works
became more about touch, surface and they
liberated him. During those earlier years he
did little drawing, occasionally sketching
concepts and idea sketches but not so much
drawing for its own sake. The nature of
Senbergs paintings of that period did not
require much drawing. So he began drawing
more in the studio and often wandering
around the area doing on-site drawings. It
was around this time that his work became
site-related and he began the Port Liardet
series, paintings of Port Melbourne as a kind
of homage to the 19th-century painter of
early Melbourne and Port Melbourne,
Wilbraham Liardet. Ever since that time,
drawing was to become as important to the
artist as the paintings.

The artist has always had a grand view of our


place in the world, which is reected in his
predilection for large view mapping works
and architectural forms and developments.
Cities and their impact on the environment
are recurrent themes that have been a
constant in his art. Senbergs says, What
I noticed in the end when we curated
everything together for the whole show,
through all the different periods, even though
Ive tackled such wide and varied subject
matter, in a funny way there is continuity
throughout. When I saw the model of the
gallery spaces with work in it, Elena Taylor
said its interesting that in the last painting
the imaginary cities come out as large head
forms, and thats how you started all those
early works were head forms as well. In a
way I thought about it and shes quite right.
I have always been interested in architecture
and early map pictures. My interest has been
of a visual nature not of their functionality.
None are meant to show some dystopian
view of the world, or environmental
preaching, they are simply my observations.
This fascinating retrospective is a testament
of the importance of vision in an artists
career. Perhaps Senbergs sums it up when
asked his thoughts about lasting the distance.
When I began, the modernist adage was
that consistency in your work is a virtue,
but over a period I dispute that, as Ive
found that responding to lifes experiences
which change and shift around, whether its
travel, your environment or your personal
situation, is more important. I try to respond
to those things in my work. For good or bad
Ive generally tried to follow my instincts,
knowledge and life experiences and my
paintings are about that.
EXHIBITION
Jan Senbergs: Observation imagination
18 March June 2016
The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria,
Federation Square, Melbourne
www.ngv.vic.gov.au

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Davis, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 213 x 289cm

Courtesy the artist

ESSAY John Beard

After
The Raft
of the
Medusa
PREVIEW KON GOURIOTIS

125

JOHN BEARDS IDEAS AND ART


practice have been dominated over the last
year by his repainting of Thodore
Gricaults The Raft of the Medusa. To
make it elusive, to make it sit on the very
edge of perception. To make quieter its
loudness. To calm and still the image. To
demand more attention from the viewer. To
depreciate the romanticism. To draw the
viewer into and through the surface. To
dissolve it.
Beards After The Raft of the Medusa is a
very black version on a white linen. The
paintings rst showing will be at William
Wright Artist Projects, Sydney, this March.
The encounter of the painting with the
project space will be fascinating.

01

The artist was rst confronted by the size of


Gricaults 5 x 7metre painting. Beard has
divided Gricaults picture into 24 equal
square linen panels. This means the work can
easily be moved and can be arranged
according to any space in which it is to be
exhibited. The grid has the effect of engaging
theviewer both with the vast whole image,
and, simultaneously each separate section, so
that one has the impression of the piece
changing, from oneinto many parts.
01

John Beard, After the Raft of the Medusa, began


in February 2015, completed in February 2016, oil
and wax on linen, 500 x 700cm

artistprole.com.au

He is almost forgetting
the subject of Gricaults
image to enable him to
express his feelings in
the act of painting ...

However, this is not to say it is as innitely


rearrangeable as, for example, Rosalie
Gascoignes Piece To Walk On (1984).
Beard wants to engage our intellect rather
than invite us to participate.

126

Gricaults The Raft of the Medusa was


painted at the peak of European Romanticism.
It depicts the horrifying fate of sailors dying
on a raft after the shipwreck of the French
frigate Medusa off the West African coast,
200years ago, in July 1816. The event caused
a scandal. Gericault spent 18 months preparing
to paint the work, interviewing the two
survivors about the inadequacy of the lifeboats,
the cannibalism and deaths on the raft. To
accurately depict the gruesome reality he
visited the Hospital Beaujon morgue, Paris,
meticulously studying decaying bodies. The
painting was nished in 1819.
At rst view one understands the importance
of the grid in Beards painting. His use of the
grid and only two materials: black oil paint
and wax, to present an image so popular and
so xed in the romantic canon, is intended
toforce the viewer to consider the idea that
minimal materials can be inventive and
experimental, can expand ideas about painting.
One also realises the act of painting comes
rst for Beard. Ideas are important, but
secondary to painting. As each panel
distinguishes a section of Gricaults original,
the water, the sky, the raft, sail, and the
bodies within each panel seem to dissolve
from the original composition, suggesting a
new reality beyond the perimeter of the grid.
Beard did not know how the composition
would present itself until he mapped out his
work and the grid. He meticulously did his
preparatory drawing by making a precise
image of the original, its dimensions provided
by the Louvre. Without this data, accurately
painting within the grid would have been
impossible, and the paintings quietly evolving
image within each square uneven. Each
panel in Beards work has a calm intimacy.
The magical symmetry of the grid reworks
the horric focus of Gricaults painting.
After The Raft of the Medusa is the most
unconcealed Postmodernist approach to
Romanticism. This is due both to Beards
appropriation of the image, and the key
formal elements of replicating the scale and
rendering the work in black tones. Beard
does not want to romanticise the subject.

02

Hehas for some time been fascinated with


the essence of representation. His
brushstrokes are apparent, the paint applied
in a continuous and considered manner like
little descriptive moments carefully crossedhatched into six graduated tones and with
two underpainting tones. Beards familiar
black oil paint compounded with wax moves
softly from light to dark in this painting, in
amanner comparable to a watercolour.
Upclose the viewer can examine each
stroke;yetthe familiar image is only clearly
understood when one steps back. Here is
Beards other important theme, perception
in representation. One can sense he is almost
forgetting the subject of Gricaults image to
enable him to express his feelings in the act
of painting, to elevate our spirits. In a way
its not about what we see from Gericault,
but what Beard has created for us.

After more than 15 years of painting with


black oils, Beard has hinted that colour might
slowly creep back into his work. As he
explains, Ive done a lot of very dark work
and next year Im going to start bringing
colour back into the work. At least I think
Iam, but I may not.

For Beard, (unlike his heroes Velasquez,


Rembrandt and Goya), the Romantics are
too distant fromthe essence of painting itself.
Beard looks to photography, to CartierBresson, not only for his term the decisive
moment in photography, but for his spatial
ambiguity. The way the wet ground mirrors
the heavens. In this manner Beards gridded,
painted skies and oceans transform into aerial
satellite topographies or rural elds.

Additional works
Edition of photogravure copper plate etchings
(two editions, one in black and one in red);
A unique state edition TinType etching, comprises
24 individual tin plates; (the etchings are based
on Beards painting, After the Raft of the Medusa,
printed in collaboration with Bill Moseley).

As William Wright explained in 2014, John


(Beard) is a painter who you need to nd,
you need to discover. I have been watching
over the years, you get this sense of looking
over time you see it takes on another
dimension. John is an artist like that.
EXHIBITION
John Beard: After the Raft of the Medusa
11 March 2 April 2016
William Wright Artists Projects
www.williamwrightartists.com.au

A quarter scale version of the full scale painting,


250 x 325cm, with 24 photographs on carbon bre
paper, each mounted on aluminium.

ESSAY John Beard

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04

127

05

02, 03, 04, 05 Details from After the Raft of the Medusa, 2016, oil and wax on linen, 500 x 700cm
Courtesy the artist

06

artistprole.com.au

Euan
macleod
PREVIEW KON GOURIOTIS

128

A ROCKY OUTCROP OVERHANGING


the perilous climb to their trenches came to
symbolise the tribulations of the Anzacs at
Gallipoli: its shape is reminiscent of the
Sphinx in Egypt, and they named it after
thatenigmatic sculpture. Euan Macleods
Sphinx, part of an upcoming new solo
exhibition of 27 paintings, Boneyard, for
Niagara Galleries, Melbourne in April, is
oneof the most profoundly complex and
confronting works for our time.
Brushed in oils, the dynamic and imposing
painting depicts a group of Turkish women
and two men wandering past the outcrop.
The women are mostly wearing black hijabs
while the leading men are wearing white
long-sleeved shirts and trousers. They walk
in a linear formation; the railings pose a
barrier to an approach and a fall, perhaps
tothe return of the dead.
The picture captures a moment, like a
photograph, where the gures appear to
merge into the creeping black-painted
shadow on the ominous outcrop. At the top
right of the painting is a calm open space
where Macleods Aegean Sea, in aqua blue,
saturated with lighter yellowy-greens and
white sandy tones, delineates the distant
foreshore. To the left and rising from the
bottom of the painting is a roasting-eshy
colour, illustrating light on the Sphinx.
Onedoesnt quite know if the dark muddy
gures are looming with the shadowy
Sphinxoutcrop over the land or if it is
entrapping the gures.
His exhibition is titled Boneyard, after a
painting in the exhibition by the artist. The
title evokes a favourite ocean spot near
Kaikoura, New Zealand, where Macleod grew
up before arriving in Sydney in 1981. It also
describes for him the sensation of his Gallipoli

01

experience, which he explains, Is literally a


graveyard the sense of walking on the dead.
Bill Nuttall of Niagara Gallery made the
selection of 27 paintings in Boneyard.
Together they deepen our appreciation of
Macleods familiar themes: his expressionist
and symbolist attention to universal
dichotomies such as life and death, driven by
his emotions. Nuttall has chosen images of
erupting volcanoes, waterfalls, trenches,
tombstones, dinghies and tourists. The
thematic uniformity is unexpected since they
were not all painted from the Gallipoli
experience. Six were painted with his New
Zealand experience in mind.
Euan Macleod has described Sphinx and
his other Gallipoli paintings as having
developed in six separate periods. Gallipoli
was a particular place of interest for him for
longer than he can remember, even before he
entered and won the Gallipoli Prize in 2009,
with his painting Smoke, pink landscape/
shovel. His trip to Gallipoli in 2013 with
other Australian artists was brief, but his

second trip in 2014 gave him eight days on


the site, which he shared with 10 artists and
three writers from Australia. He then spent
12 months developing the paintings in his
Sydney studio, until the Sphinx paintings
planned nal presentation.
Painting the male naked body is a great
passion of Macleods. Nearly all of the
Boneyard paintings have naked male forms.
One has a clothed male facing a tunnel, and
three, including Sphinx, women wearing
black hijabs. Their concealment of femininity
reveals a paradox in diverse cultures: the
right for citizens to wear what they want
even at the expense of universal equality.

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04
05

Study Volcano/Boat, 2015, oil on polyester, 51 x 38cm


Sphinx, 2015, oil on polyester, 137 x 180cm
Gallipoli over Waiheke Island, 2015, oil and acrylic on
polyester, 102 x 122cm
Study Sitting on Rocks In Sea, 2015, oil on polyester,
51 x 38cm
Boneyard, 2015, oil on polyester, 150 x 180cm

PREVIEW Euan Macleod


129
02

Together the 27 paintings in Euan Macleods new exhibition, Boneyard, deepen our
appreciation of Macleods familiar themes: his expressionist and symbolist
attention touniversal dichotomies such as life and death, driven by his emotions.

03

04
05

artistprofile.com.au

Macleod poured hours into


reading personal accounts
in soldiers letters.

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130

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Macleod wants us to experience the changing


cultural shifts in Turkey from the time of the
battle for Gallipoli 100 years ago. Perhaps
too much can be read into the fact that a
male is positioned as leading the group of
women in Sphinx. Recently, the current
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
removed all restrictions on the wearing of the
hijab: it had been officially discouraged by the
ultra-secularist Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the
first President of Turkey, in 1923. Macleods
women in Sphinx are presented as negative
forms to imply the radical agendas of all
visitors to Gallipoli. He points out, Even
though they were Turks, they were visiting
there they were coming in the same way
as we were going theyre there for the
same purpose, to try and make some sense
out of this bloody senseless piece of
stupidness that went on there.
The artists need to express his emotions
through his painting means that processes
tend to be in short, energetic bursts, often
with intense music playing, then these are
followed by long periods of reflection.
Having had the benefit of thinking about the
initial Gallipoli experience for a year he
poured hours into reading personal accounts
in soldiers letters. He produced a mass of

08

preparatory paintings, sketches and photos


that were focused on a precise representation
of the area. Only as the paintings took shape
did figures, bones and shovels appear. Macleod
leaves a lot of room for faith, pointing out
that something would come up, and that
something would happen. This method
explains some of the spatial ambiguity in
Boneyard and indeed in all his work.
If Macleods paintings were only about place,
then one would not be able to comprehend
their emphatic impact. When visitors view
Sphinx in the Boneyard exhibition, they will
undoubtedly experience what it means to be
human in either an open or closed world.

EXHIBITION
Euan Macleod: Boneyard
5-30 April 2016
Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
Euan Macleod is represented by Niagara Galleries,
Melbourne and Watters Gallery, Sydney.
www.niagaragalleries.com.au
www.wattersgallery.com
www.bowengalleries.co.nz

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Waterfall, 2015, oil on polyester, 90 x 48cm


Euan Macleod in the studio
The Nek, 2015, oil on polyester, 150 x 180cm

Courtesy the artist and Niagara Galleries.

ASDBC19444.15

WE ARE
THE MAKERS
OF COLOUR

As an Australian family company founded in 1966,


we take pride in our continued development
of colours of unsurpassed brilliance and intensity
and the use of only permanent, light-fast pigments
at maximum working strength.
Art Spectrum is dedicated to creating the finest
possible artists colours.

artspectrum.com.au
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Picture us:

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THIS IS MY
HERITAGE
REVIEW KON GOURIOTIS
01

132

IN NINETEEN-NINETY a group of four


women: poets Oodgeroo Noonuccal (also
known as Kath Walker) and Maureen Watson,
theatre director Sue Rider and museum curator
Judith Bartlett organised a performance of
the play You Came to My Country and You Didnt
turn Black in the Queensland Museum.
Twenty-ve years later the Queensland
Museum has invited a group of Indigenous
people from the Queensland community to
be photographed for a collaboration
commemorating that important performance
and its accompanying exhibition.
This is my heritage, a poem from the play by
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, inspired the exhibition
title. First published in 1984, the play was
programmed by Anthony Steele for the
Adelaide Festival that year. The Wayne Goss
Labor Government supported the staging of
the play less than a year after the defeat of
the 19-year Joh Bjelke-Petersen National
Party Government in 1989. Works by 24
Indigenous visual artists from Queensland
were displayed in conjunction with the play.
Works by Fiona Foley, Judy Watson,
Richard Bell, the late Gordon Bennett,
Marshall Bell and other now celebrated
Australian visual artists were shown.

Mick Richards. Aird and Richards have


worked together in exhibitions, lms and
conferences for nearly 25 years. To
collaborate for such a time, Richards
explains, There are no rules, it is how we
intuitively work with each other well. They
do not idealise their subjects but stick to
realism to x the facts in their collection of
stories from Aboriginal communities.
Richards says he is not interested in
negativity. In 2007 Aird and Richards were
in Palm Island as the verdict into the death
ofCameron Mulrunji Doomadgee was
announced in favour of the perpetrator. The
mainstream press represented the community
as agitated, but Aird and Richards
documented people going peacefully about
daily life. Richards explains, In all our shots,
people were nice, people were happy, people
were doing things, while all the press
photographs were dark and dingy and theres
no hope and theres doom in the air.

Even today, the idea of a play in a museum is


remarkable. Observing the plays signicance
for the time, the This is my heritage exhibition
curators Michael Aird and Mandana Mapar
point out, It was a major coup and a notable
change of direction for the Queensland
Museum. The project captured the mood of
the era, through a collaboration that involved
an insightful creative team, the Indigenous
communities and Museum staff.

Aird, who graduated in anthropology in


1990from the University of Queensland, is
visionary and meticulous. He has become
well known for his careful curatorial processes
in nding and documenting photographs of
Aboriginal subjects and uncovering the
stories behind them. He is a photographer
and a recorder of many Indigenous peoples
stories. He was born on the Gold Coast,
spending most of his life in the region, the
traditional country of his ancestors. His
photography records things that interest
Aboriginal people: preparing a dancer for a
wedding, making shing spears, cooking
echidnas, Aboriginal children learning
traditional dance.

This is my heritage highlights another


continuing collaboration, between Aird and
the exhibitions photographer and lmmaker,

Born in Cardiff, Wales, Richards migrated to


Australia in 1989. His work has both logical
and intuitive elements. His photography career

began accidently in the early 1980s after a


cameraman from BBC Wales, where he was
working, suggested he take up photography.
As a keen reader and observer of history,
culture, the arts and the military, he
feverishly absorbs everything. He has
mastered the chemical and digital
photographic disciplines in still and moving
image. He has created portraits, reportage,
male erotica, as well as staged photography
for artists and documented artists works.
Hehas documented subcultures from the
world of Australian boxing, nightclubs,
surng, cars and beauty contests. His
photographs feature in a diverse range
ofpublications, books, magazines and
newspapers in Australia and internationally.
From time to time he also intermittently
tutored in photography from 1994 to 2006,
atthe Queensland College of Art.
Around 1990, Richards and Aird met at a
Spring Hill Baths Gallery exhibition,
Brisbane. By early 1992 they were working
together on the Aboriginal arts festival and
conference in Yarrabah, near Cairns.
Richards was commissioned by the
Indigenous and non-Indigenous artist
collective, The Campre Group, to document
the conference. In 1996 Aird invited
Richards to be the portrait photographer for

01
02

This is my heritage, installation view


Roxanne McDonald, print on vinyl, anti-UV high quality ink,
2100 x 1500cm
03 Rhianna Patrick, print on vinyl, anti-UV high quality ink,
2100 x 1500cm
04 Leonard Donoghue, print on vinyl, anti-UV high quality ink,
2100 x 1500cm
05 Laurie Nilsen, print on vinyl, anti-UV high quality ink,
2100x 1500cm
06 Chenoa Deemal, print on vinyl, anti-UV high quality ink,
2100 x 1500cm
Photographer, Mick Richards

REVIEW Mick Richards & Michael Aird Collaborations

02

133

04

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artistprole.com.au

The 12 portraits tell tales of


identity and resilience, the
stolen generation, labour
exploitation and ecological
destruction stories from
various ages and genders.

his second book I Know a Few Words. At the


request of south-east Queensland elders,
Aird had gathered traditional languages from
a diverse cultural group, taking a thematic
approach to reveal the old culture and
present the renewed culture of knowledge
and learning for a new generation of
Australians. Two members of the project,
Jo-Anne Driessens and Honor Cleary,
appear in This is my heritage.

134

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Mick Richards photographs were curated by


Aird for the rst time for the 1998 Wearing
Culture exhibition, at Queensland Museum.
Their exhibitions and lms include the 2011
exhibition Woogoompah My Country Swamp
Country, Gold Coast Art Gallery; the 2012
Swamp Country, Metricon Stadium, Gold
Coast; 2013 lms and photographs The
Longest Wave, Bleach Festival Gold Coast;
and, in collaboration with Alick Tipoti,
Marimawa, a 2014 video performance, and
10documentaries of the artists in the
international and national travelling
exhibition Saltwater Country.
Richards diverse qualities as a natural
socialcollaborator can be understood
through the inuences that have inspired
him: Nan Goldins intimate documentary
photography, the harsh realism of Weegees
street photography, the hedonistic social
photography of Rennie Ellis and the social
activist documentation of William Yang.
Richards belief that the camera can show
anything you want reects the ideas of
photographer and lmmaker Brassa, and
heis inspired by the painter Caravaggios
chiaroscuro method of contrasting lights
and darks. There is something of Eugne
Atget in Richards obsessive project
documenting Brisbanes Fortitude Valley
entertainment district, taking photos from
every perspective of the terrain, to its
subterranean life.
For the This is my heritage exhibition the
curators worked with 12 Indigenous people
from diverse communities, and facilitated
their access to the Queensland Museums
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island
collection. Richards photographed each
subject with a selected object from the
collection. The 12 portraits tell tales of

08

identity and resilience, the stolen generation,


labour exploitation and ecological
destruction stories from various ages and
genders. Beyond the natural scale of 2 metres,
Richards photographs are accompanied by
abrilliantly crafted, sensitive 40-minute lm
of great empathy: for this Aird interviewed
the subjects and Richards lmed them.

come from as a nation and where we could


go. How many curators and artists can really
do that in Australia: to provide their subjects
with an environment in which they can
relaxknowing they will not be exploited?
Collaborations such as Airds and Richards
are a rarity and the This is my heritage
exhibition is one of their nest.

The visitors to the exhibition immediately


understand what the curators wish to
achieve. It is an idea derived from their
experiences with the community and their
commitment to the public museums that care
for our objects, asking them to be more open
and empathetic. Such principles take time
and skill to make real.

EXHIBITION
This is my heritage
Queensland Museum
Until 7 July, 2016

To construct these realities, which Richards


and Airds have achieved, requires a longterm engagement with the community. The
12 subjects stories, the stills and the lm
build a convincing image of where we have

www.qm.qld.gov.au

07
08

Mick Richards photographing Jo-Anne Driessens,


photography Michael Aird
Clancestary, 2014, photography Mick Richards

Courtesy the artist, Michael Aird, Queensland Performing Arts


Centre and Queensland Museum.

artistprole.com.au

Modern Love:
the Lives of John
& Sunday Reed
REVIEW BY JUDITH PUGH

136

FAMILY MONEY INSULATED Sunday


Baillieu and John Reed from the Great
Depression, and allowed them to be patrons
ofartists and writers in the mid-20th century.
Establishing the Heide Museum of Modern
Art, and their donations to other public
collections, made the couple nationally famous.
Their engagement with creative people was
intensely personal, and their story has
glamour, romance, sex, betrayal, power,
money, and food. Heide curators Lesley
Harding and Kendrah Morgan have
previously co-written books about the garden
planted, and the food served, when the Reeds
lived on the rural holding that became the
museum, but Modern Love has nothing of
thelifestyle genre about it.
Hazel Rowleys double biographies, of Simone
de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, discreetly
confronted the issues of sexual predilection
and mores, of personal anguish and constancy
in the face of extra-marital liaisons, but
Rowleys admirable accounts do not achieve
the closeness of Harding and Morgan to their
subjects. Using notes and material recorded by
earlier Heide scholars, in particular Richard
Haese, the cooperation of others who knew
the Reeds, and their own extensive research,
especially in unpublished manuscripts,
Harding and Morgan have produced a
remarkable book. Modern Love admirably
balances the Reeds dramatic personal stories
with an account of change in Australian art
and literature. It elegantly interweaves the
Reeds private history with their public

activities, such as with The Museum of


Modern Art and the Angry Penguins magazine.
Everyone interested in Australian culture
should buy this book.
With admirable consistency of tone,
withoutsentimentality or judgement,
Hardingand Morgan tactfully unravel John
Reeds propensity for power in relationships
and arts politics, and Sundays demands for
love and itssexual expression. Extensive
painstaking scholarly research lets the
readersee the Reeds, their lovers and their
literary partners from the point of view of
the actors. At times authorial speculation
takes the place of scholarship, and this is
unnecessary when their approach is so
factual. For instance, the authors document
John Reeds proclivity for watching Sunday
have sex with her various lovers, and
explainit in the context of his enjoyment of
birdwatching. The double entendre seems
not to have been noticed, yet both it and the
theory are distracting. Establishing his
voyeurism is enough.
The authors establish their protagonists in
thevery small bohemia of 1940s Melbourne.
They describe a mixture of sophistication,
amateurism and enthusiasm that provided a
space for intense creative exploration for those
the Reeds favoured. The liaison between
Sunday and Sidney Nolan, and the Reeds
adoption of Sweeney, Albert Tucker and Joy
Hesters child, have been publicly examined in
other publications: this account sorts fact
about these relationships from gossip.

The book describes Sundays series of intense


sexual encounters with several artists and
writers, while distinguishing the romance and
disruption of the Nolan affair. Despite the
intricate descriptions revealing her need for
control, commitment to her class, and her
tantrums, the reader understands the tragedy
of Sundays situation and we admire the
seductive atmosphere where creative
experimentation was supported. Johns affairs,
his management of the turbulent domestic
atmosphere, and of artistic and literary
enterprises, are also well understood.
The authors research provides information
and insight about many other gures in
Australian art and literature: Tucker, Hester,
Sam Atyeo, Michael Keon, Moya Dyring,
Cynthia Reed, Jack Bellew, Max Harris,
Georges and Mirka Mora, John Perceval,
Barrett Reid, Danila Vassilieff, and of course
Sweeny Reed. The book conveys the
excitement and intellectual vigour of the
period and the extensive network of educated
people supporting the arts. Even the
conservative JS MacDonald and Harold
Herbert briey appear, utterly themselves
through Johns eyes.
We are reminded that during the 1940s in
Melbourne the almost evangelical quest to
infuse Australian art with modern ideas was
felt intensely, especially by Albert Tucker and
Sidney Nolan, both the objects of the Reeds
patronage. There has not been a better account
of Nolans development of the images of
Australian light and space that are his early

REVIEW Books
137
01

02

01

02
03

Nolan, Max, Sunday, John and John Sinclair at Heide c.1945,


photographer unknown, John and Sunday Reed papers, SLV,
box20
Sweeney at Versailles 1948, photographer Albert Tucker,
HMOMA, gift of Barbara Tucker 2001
Sunday and John Reed at Heide 1943, photographer Albert
Tucker, HMOMA, gift of Barbara Tucker 2001
03

artistprole.com.au

04

138

pictures. The drama of the Ern Malley hoax


and its effect on John and Max Harriss
publishing venture, Angry Penguins, is
untangled, and the book encompasses the
history of the Reeds involvement in the
Museum of Modern Art of Australia.
Sweeneys heartrending story: abandonment
by his mother, Tuckers agreement to his
adoption by the Reeds in exchange for
continuing nancial support, his difcult
adolescence, adulthood, and his suicide
continue the Reeds sad tale. The story very
satisfyingly follows Nolans post-Heide life
with Johns sister, Cynthia, and the post-war
lives of early Heide habitus, including
Tuckerand John Perceval. It touches on other
relationships formed during the 1960s and
70s,and through them the reader can see
Australias art world mature. The period to
theReeds deaths by suicide is made as
interesting as their early romantic youth.
Other particulars about the society at the time
are not as accurately understood as those
centred on the Reeds; for instance at this time
it was well known among the Heide insiders
that Atyeo was working as a diplomatic aide
for Evatt: Atyeo had an ofcial position.
Collins House, Sundays uncles building at
360 Collins Street, was then tenanted by the
major Melbourne legal rms. It was the
registered address of most major Australian
companies. It is described to its socialist
critics an epicentre of Australian capitalism.

There can be only one epicentre: Collins


House was the epicentre of Australian
capitalism. These, and infelicitous expressions
and misuses of common gures of speech
should have been corrected. They detract
fromthe authors composed, scholarly
approach. Harding and Morgan have been
letdown by their editor.
But fundamentally, its about art. The work is
replete with fascinating images and beautiful
photographs even Heide snapshots were
through discerning eyes and the design
elegantly underpins their style. Surprising,
then, that this Miegunyah-subsidised
publication should have begun falling apart
the week after I opened my review copy.
Thepublisher replaced it promptly, and
saysitwill investigate
Modern Love: the Lives of Sunday & John Reed
By Lesley Harding & Kendrah Morgan
Miegunyah Press, $45
www.mup.com.au

04

Nolan and Sunday 1944, photographer Albert Tucker,


HMOMA, gift of Barbara Tucker 2001

Courtesy Albert Tucker Photographic Collection and Heide


Museum of Modern Art.

Despite the descriptions


revealing her need for
control, commitment
toher class, and her
tantrums, the reader
understands the tragedy
ofSundays situation.

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140

01

Paul
Miller
STORY DOUGLAS PURNELL

01

Batboy, 2011, egg tempera


on panel, 120 x 150cm

PAINTER PAUL MILLERS STUDIO


issurrounded by three walls of glass theres
no need for curtains, as the surrounding trees
give privacy. After I arrived, at rst Paul
seemed to dance across the room with tiny
steps on his toes is this Pauls ebullient
personality expressing his delight, or is this
the effect of the Parkinsons disease that he
was rst diagnosed with 14 years ago? Sadly,
the latter. When he has been sitting or lying
awhile, his legs are slow to start.
In the studio was a very big (for Paul) work,
about four feet by six feet in egg tempera.
It was a self-portrait along with the faces
of his wife, Juliette, and two friends. He
wants to make one substantial work that will
show his commitment and sense of vocation
and that will make a statement about how
he wants the world to see his pictures. Paul
has been working on this painting for seven
months, and he anticipates that it will take
another couple of years to complete. It will

be done when it is done, he says. Paul has an


amazing ability to observe the smallest detail,
and to work at it with the nest brushes, and
indefatigable patience to work ever so slowly
towards completion.
I asked when and why he began painting in
egg tempera. Paul explained that in 2007 he
had an exhibition where his work in the show
was inspired by memories of his native
Canada. Pauls tough self-assessment after
the show was that it was too remote to
communicate with anyone. He sat in his
studio for a month trying to work out what
had happened, and what that would mean for
his future work. This time of reection led
Paul to go back to more obvious (emotionally
realist) images. A key painting of this time
was the self-portrait with red beret and black
coat. At some level, this self-portrait was
about looking closely at himself and rethinking
his identity as an artist. It marked a new
beginning. As he looked at the self-portrait

Review Paul Miller

How could he have such a


still hand when painting
the incredible detail in
these works while the
Parkinsons seemed to
have such control over
other parts of his body?
Heheld out his left hand,
and it wasperfectly still.

141

02

03

there was a reaffirmed sense: I can actually


do this (painting with tempera and making
emotionally realist works). I am comfortable
doing it, it is the right thing for me to be doing.
The change in focus brought out, too, a
change in method. He went back to look at
Andrew Wyeth, whose work had influenced
him in his early 20s and the Canadian realists
(Tom Forrestall, Christopher Pratt and Alex
Colville) who also had been influential, and
he began to paint in egg tempera.
One of the things that intrigued me was
the absolutely fine detail in his egg tempera
paintings. Paul says, You can see the air
between the blades of grass. I asked him
how he could have such a still hand when
painting the incredible detail in these works
while the Parkinsons seemed to have such
control over other parts of his body. He held
out his left hand, and it was perfectly still.

04
02
03
04

The Boys Car, 2014, watercolour on paper, 77 x 108cm


Greg/Greg Warburton, 2014, egg tempera on panel, 25 x 20cm
Tims Land, 2015, egg tempera on panel, 90 x 120cm

The larger watercolours allow him to be


more abstract, playing with the push and pull
of the layers. In egg tempera he has to slow
the process down in the work. He has to
make it really, really, slow, working to see
what sort of tensions he can create with the
layers. Among the works Paul showed me
were some ink drawings, made with

artistprole.com.au

05

06

chopsticks, which he says requires patience,


and a sense of structure. It is slow work, and
it feeds what I am doing in the tempera
works. The line is about thinking through a
space. The chopstick, sharpened to a point
with a knife, makes each mark unpredictable,
you launch straight in.
One of the joys of going really slowly with
a work is that I feel like a Renaissance
craftsman; everything is carefully crafted,
carefully thought through, it is a discipline
that involves digging deeper into yourself,
and, you do something with paint that
reaches into the heart and is deeply moving.
A painting works when a little bit of magic
emerges that strikes the right note. The
magic comes only as a result of being
consistent in the studio, hitting the right note
when the opportunity comes, and working
with passion and discipline.
Pauls experience of Parkinsons disease is
always present and an important subject
to talk about. I have had it 14 years. It
doesnt describe all of me, just a small part
ofme. It doesnt affect the intellectual rigour
of his painting on a day-to-day basis, but
depending on how his body is responding

07

tothe meds it sets the underlying tone of


how he works in the studio each day.

05

He describes having Parkinsons as though


he is standing at the edge of a precipice, not
knowing when he is going to fall off, and
hoping that he doesnt. He has to deal with it
the best I can. My way of dealing with it,
he adds, with dry humour, is by working my
bum off; and not being controlled by it.

07

Painting has the capacity to communicate


beauty and grace a transcendent type of
beauty that takes the viewer somewhere.
Paul Miller is represented by Gallery 78
www.gallery78.com

06

Rock Gully/Yellow Box, 2014, ink on paper, 77 x


108cm
Bathurst Airstrip/The Divider, 2014, watercolour on
paper, 78 x 120cm
Rock Gully, 2014, watercolour on paper, 120 x 78cm

Courtesy the artist

Dee Jackson
Australian artist, Dee Jackson,
creates beautiful watercolour portraits.
Commissions welcome.
Portraiture by it its very nature is an
intimate experience. Preoccupied as we are,
perhaps from very different backgrounds,
there is always a human connection.
Dee Jackson
Tel (02) 9416 2265 / +612 9416 2265
Mob: 0439 986 452 / +61 439 986 452
Email: deejackson@deejackson.com.au
www.deejackson.com.au

Sydneys premier
fine art printer.
Specializing in original art reproduction.
Museum grade archival fine art prints on
a range of smooth and textured papers,
including Hahnemhle and Innova stock.

45 George Street Redfern NSW Australia 2016


P +61 2 9319 3300

F +61 2 9319 4810

www.visionimagelab.com.au
Image courtesy of Mark Hanham

01

144

02

03

GILBERT & GEORGE

SHIMMER

LISA WRIGHT | THE EDGE OF REASON

Hilarious, insightful and


controversial, it is without a
doubt Gilbert & Georges first
Australian retrospective will
leave their mark on Australian
culture. The tongue in cheek
note appearing on the website
says it all really, You may be
offended by this exhibition. You
also may not. If youd like to
avoid it, see staff upon arrival.

Delicate in touch and


in their soft colours,
shells carry an enigmatic
beauty that cannot be
reproduced. Shimmer looks
at the historical, cultural
and political implications
for shell art practice in
contemporary art.

Drawing a line in the sand between the rational and irrational, Wright
proceeds to step over it, transporting the viewers imagination into
a realm of possibilities. Sourcing eclectic imagery, from dystopian
architectures in Bosch-like labyrinths to fictional characters Bessie,
Fanny and Jo from Enid Blytons The Enchanted Wood, Wright creates
her own fantastical Wonderland. You can only pour yourself over
Wrights work, delving into the detail and imagery that teeters on
overwhelming. While one image triggers one trajectory of thought,
the multitude of Wrights works pushes the mind into seemingly
infinite wanderings. Wright skilfully plays with rhyme and reason, as
you wander through and wonder about the potholes and peaks of her
own creative musings.

Until 28 March
MONA, Tas
www.mona.net.au

Until 6 March
Wollongong Regional Art
Gallery, NSW
www.wollongongartgallery.com

25 March 29 May
Gippsland Art Gallery, Vic
www.wellington.vic.gov.au

MY PRETTY LITTLE ART CAREER


People use to think my early ineptitude was ironic. But Ive always
been about authenticity. Grayson Perry is one of those prolific
personalities. From artist to entertainer it is clear the wit and dry
humour that set the tone of his practice are part of the total Grayson
Perry experience. However the survey of his works at the MCA
reveals a practice that carries a weight of insightful commentary on
class, nationhood, gender and Graysons own identity.
Until 1 May, MCA, NSW www.mca.com.au

BRUTAL TRUTHS
Vernon Ah Kee, the late Gordon
Bennett, and artists Destiny
Deacon and Virginia Fraser
respond to a global context of
displacement and oppression.

04

05

Until 9 April
Griffith University Art Gallery, Qld
www.griffith.edu.au

01 Gilbert & George portrait, courtesy the artists and Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Australia. 02 Garry Sibosado, Minnimb (humpback whale), 2015, etched mother of pearl, natural pigment, 18 x 15cm, photographer Bernie Fischer, courtesy the artist and
Wollongong Art Gallery. 03 Helen Wright, Man of Flowers, 2013, woodcut print on paper, 120 x 80cm, courtesy the artist, Bett Gallery, Hobart and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne. 04 Grayson Perry portrait, photographer Kate Peters, courtesy the artist and the Museum
of Contemporary Art Australia. 05 Brutal Truths, Vernon Ah Kee, brutalities (triptych) detail, 2014, 180 x 150cm, courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. 06 Tom Roberts, A break away! 1891, oil on canvas 137 x 168cm. Courtesy the artist and the Art Gallery
of South Australia, Adelaide. 07 Spalding, Cootapatamba, 2015, oil on linen 122 x 153cm. courtesy the artist and Stanley Street Gallery. 08 Lisa Roet, Heartbeat, documentation still, 2014, courtesy the artist and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation.

artistprofile.com.au

viewAUST

09 Brownyn Hack, Sheep skull, 2014, ceramic, 13 x 16 x 12cm, courtesy the artist and Arts Project Australia. 10 El Anatsui, Stressed World, 2011, found aluminum
and copper wire, 440 x 600cm, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. 11 Derek Kreckler, Big Wave Hunting, 2011, courtesy the artist.
12 Heather Ellyard, Jerusalem detail from 20 Days of Meditation, 2015, mixed media, 18 x 220 x 12cm, photographer James McCardle, courtesy the artist and Janet
Clayton Gallery. 13 Peter ODoherty, The Washing up, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122cm, courtesy the artist and King Street Gallery

VIEW Australia

06

07

TOM ROBERTS

GESUNDHEIT

Celebrating Roberts iconic


works, the NGA explores
Tom Roberts integral role
invisualising Australias
culturalidentity.

In a homage to the Snowy


Mountains, Spaldings paintings
will immerse you in medium and
content of the artists experience
of the Australian wilderness.

Until 28 March
NGA, ACT
www.nga.gov.au

9 March 2 April
Stanley Street Gallery, NSW
www.stanleystreetgallery.com.au

11

ACCIDENT & PROCESS

08

09

LISA ROET | HEARTBEAT

BE CAREFUL NOW

A 4D video installation,
Roet immerses you in an
exploration of the complex
ape-human intersection.

With a penchant for the


theatrical, Bronwyn Hack
playfully reimagines human
and animal anatomy in
glorious forms.

Adelaide Festival of Art 2016


Australian Experimental Art
Foundation, SA
www.aeaf.org.au

The rst survey exhibition of


David Kreckler, it promises to
be nothing but enlightening.
A rigorous conceptual artist,
Krecklers practice incorporates
photography, video, installation
and performance works in
an all-engaging showcase.
Krecklers mediums are informed
by his ongoing interest in the
relationship between culture
and the environment. Accident
& Process will branch out to
explore representations of
landscape, national identity and
the role of chance or accident in
determining these.
5 March 10 April
Bunbury Regional Galleries, WA
www.brag.org.au

Until 12 March
Arts Project Australia, Vic
www.artsproject.org.au

12

145

CONTINUUM 4
Part four of an ongoing project,
Heather Ellyard explores all that
matters to her, from black holes
to geo-politics, from the universe
to very small human details.
23 March 17 April
Janet Clayton Gallery, NSW
www.janetclaytongallery.com.au

FIVE DECADES
Born in Anyako, Ghana, El
Anatsuis abstract art is shaped
by his local vernacular of Ghana
and Nigeria. Turning everyday
materials into treasure, his
complex assemblages range
from wood, aluminium printing
plates, discarded tin boxes to
liquor bottle tops. Suggestive
of the contours of landscape
and cartography, the ceramic
and wooden sculptures visually
articulate the histories of
colonial and post-colonial Africa
alongside contemporary issues
of waste and the environment.

10

Until 6 March
Carriageworks, NSW
www.carriageworks.com.au

13

THROUGH THE WINDOW


Follow Peter ODohertys musings
through his house interiors,
strolling inside to the kitchen sink,
and back out into the landscape.
29 March 25 April
King Street Gallery, NSW
www.kingstreetgallery.com.au

DISCOVERY Yioryios

02

01

146

Yioryios
I AM INTRIGUED with architecture,
particularly mid-century modern design and
the principles that dictate its aesthetics.
Though I appreciate the functionality of
architecture, it is the inherent values found
within its abstraction that inspires my work.
I am fascinated with being able to place my
body within a piece of functional art and to
be able to experience that art through so
many dimensions.
When I move around and within a space,
Isee how it can morph into its surrounds
asthe light changes, and it is this notion that
Iwish to capture. I attempt to deconstruct
the fundamentals of architecture, stripping
itof its functionality and order to be left with
what it is that creates the aesthetically
fascinating dimensions that I see and feel
when inside a well-designed space. The
architecture of Jrn Utzon and Harry
Seidler are of particular inspiration for my
current works.
As an artist, my inspirations also stem from
wanting to explore and manipulate particular

mediums. Although I completed my honours


degree within the painting department, it
hasbeen a natural progression to creating
these current sculptural forms. As a painter,
Ipreferred using my hands. I felt a more
physical connection to my work, manipulating
and sculpting the paint from within. I now
use aluminium, heating it using an intensive
heat gun. While it is hot, the metal is more
exible and I am able to twist and turn it into
a desired form. It hardens again when cool
and hopefully I have captured the instant the
piece grasped that eeting movement,
solidifying it in that moment.
Using heated and cooled aluminium has
allowed me to attempt to capture an
ephemeral uidity in my sinuous objects, like
photographing an instant. I want it to mimic
those perceived constant changes in shapes,
lines and spaces of an inspiring space that is
bathed in a changing light, throwing shadows
and creating stark tonal differences and
geometric visual play.
Movement is very important to my work on
many levels. I wish for the viewer to interact
with my work, moving around the object,
watching the cast shadow move,
experiencing the shifts in weight, colour,
tone, negative space and manipulating the
shadow. The shadows that my objects cast

are an integral part of the works and how


they are viewed. The shadow morphs the
object into a changing shape and size, reliant
on its surroundings and conditions. The
changing nature of light in turn creates
further movement. I choose to apply a highly
reective, smooth painted surface to the
objects to allow the piece to not only reect
its surrounds, but also absorb them. I want
the work to take on its surrounds, denoting
an integral principle of the architecture of
modernist design. Ultimately I attempt to
allude to ones interaction with the beauty of
the ephemeral quality of a space and our
experience within it.
My fascination with architecture and curiosity
as an artist has led my practice to where it
isnow, and I am looking forward to seeing
what other mediums I can manipulate to
represent and explore such a complex notion.
www.yioryios.com

01
02

AEP Phthalocyanine Green, Black, Orange, Blue &


Terracotta, 2015, aluminium, oil paint, 49 x 58 x 55cm
SOH Black, White, Blue, Orange & Terracotta,
2015, aluminium, oil paint, 51 x 54 x 38cm

Courtesy the artist

DISCOVERY promotes the work of unrepresented artists. Each issue our editorial team publishes the work of an emerging artist on this page based upon submissions sent to us.

Listening to the Rolling Stones (Yeppoon) 1986 (detail) | oil on composition board | collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2011 | photo: Carl Warner

9 APRIL29 MAY
ROCKHAMPTONARTGALLERY.COM.AU