Monday, July 04, 2005

Saturday Stroll in Paddo

On Saturday afternoon I took a 389 bus to 5 ways in Paddo, and wandered down goodhope street to Sherman Galleries where they had an opening for their "Artbox" and "two box" mini galleries. Mini Galleries is overstating the case. "Artbox" - is a metre squared box on a wall on their verandah. "two box" consists of 2 plinths on the covered bit of their gravel courtyard. At least its not misleading advertising.

Art Box was filled with a whole heap of shredded paper with some magazine cutouts. "hey! that looks like those artfully arranged strips of paint that had a curiously evocative quality - that I saw under the stairs at Prima Vera!". And yes, they were more products of Huseyin Sami - famous for putting the acrylic into acrylic paint, and pulling it out again. His artbox work was titled "the united Paper People". cute. My stylistic dictionary screams - "Postmodern Rococo". GODDALUVIT coz he's taking a very coy slant on minimalism - (buzz word was post-post-object art - bleagh!). His plastic fantastic works at the MCA - took a seemingly formalist preooccupation with the materiality of his medium - actylic paint - which he used as non paint (hmmm so what is paint then?) - not as a something that gets stuck onto another surface - but as surface/object/stuff itself - penetrating objects (like the metal sieves in the pour.......). what I liked more than the bright poy post-painting-paint ploy were the funny little scenarios under the stairs - and in an alcove on the stair world. this got the OZZIE QUIRKY CULTURE stamp of approval. big time. But I liked it coz it looked like a kiddies birthday party - and it was in a space where you'd imagine little kids running aorund to look at - so there was a nice sensitivity in his installation - annd he was revealing a little bit more of himself too........ Back to art box - and the mad little world (that kind of resembles tha artists hair) is recreatied in exquisitely arranged paper strips. Its a nice little place.

I glanced over at the scary perspex blocks in 2 boxes (called Cage) and was at first repelled by the cold cut industrial formalism of grey & black perspex. When I wandered down the stairs for a gander - I still felt repelled by the works - which evoked a nightmare of manic architecture students after a hard night on vodka and nodoz - but then I glanced over at the card -hmmm! and the press books for Daniel Chant -the artist. hmmm! NICE PRINTS. This guy seems to be obsessed with layers, cutting into things, layers of space and layers of things, and more edges of meaning - and really rich evocative planes. I could see that when there were more colours and curves. Maybe its a girl thing.

Surprised and delighted, I trudged up the stairs and briiefly glimpsed at the boyzone above. I wish I could have brought the guy I know doing his PhD on surfing to Scott Redford's "this Side of Paradise" - he might have waxed lyrical on the big nice photos and answered a few questions. (what's with the golden plaque aorund the neck in "andrew"?). the chick doing the John the baptist (the da vinci pic in the Loucre) finger was cute too. but I'm not into surfers.

I'm not into skaters either so Shaun gladwell's works had to work had to grab me but its hard to resist 3 white walls studded with flat screens and projected images. Looking like big c-type colour photos - these images moved slowly and silently. Gotta use the word "Balletic Grace" - bit like bill Henson without the pervy creepiness. Page numbers from "Non Spaces" by Marc Auge - wafted into my brain (like 14, and 18) but unfortunately no words, so I can't add any meditative quote on the disorientation of hypemodernity - and chucking in sonmehting from Deleuz would be just too sycophantic.

anyway - I floated down Glenmore road to Brian Moore, which was the original inspiration for my adventure. I think it is really important as a reviewer to state when I've got a prejudice for or against something. I get migraines so I skipped bridget riley. I don't like minimalism, colour field, op art, new geo or retro geo or yeo olde geo either. I hate beige, grey, and white on white. I love anything pink. Most people have pretty basic visceral responses to forms, shapes, colours. We like certain forms of art the way we like certain flavours or certain types of music. Most art critics - try to apply a dubious gloss of connoseurship to their taste - almost as if they are afraid to say "I just like the colour!". the thing is that if we attach an intellectual position to what are basically emotional responses to stuff - then we can get locked into some sort of aesthetic position. I personally like being surprised by art - and suprised to find myself liking things I wouldn't expect to - and so I want to be honest about my emotional range and how it effects my "critical discernment".

this is a long preface for how I came to be seduced by the work of John Nicholson. He is a abstract formalist post-painter par excellence - and produces just the sort of clean clever stuff you'd expect to see in an upmarket contemporary commercial gallery. A typical example are a whole heap of coloured perspex stripes (looking like ubersmooth licorice allsorts) stuck together into large - sculpture cum instalations. (stripey coloured objects on white walls in white rooms). Anway I was wandering past Brian Moore Gallery last year - and was drawn by these soft perspex light boxes - with soft glowing colours.the show was caled Hypervoid.NQMCOT* but I coldn't work out if they were painted on white perspex, dyed sections of perspex, or something done inside, or a total tropme l'oiel but I was pretty fascinated - and then I just got seduced by the soft glowing colours (Pink!) and blobby forms. then I read that he's into art and nature and science - and has done stuff with symbotic light fixing bateria - and then I was fascinated.

So - Nature by Proxy - seemed liked a worthwhile show to check out - as he was the curator. Hats off! Well done! I REALLY LIKE IT when I can walk into a room and sense a formal resonance between a collection of osetenisbly very different peices - and pulling off the "hum magic" is something John needs to be congratulated for. What is "hum magic"? Its a very fluffy term for getting the vibe of a room right, and this is not goiint to be very easy to explain wihtout coming across like a complete new age freak so maybe I should try. Oh what the hell. If you look at visitors to an art gallery, or if you notice yourself - you can observe how certain works exude a certain magnetic quality - and can either attract and draw people in - or repel them. Its realy good when you can see people actually mimicking pieces with their bodies - relaxing in front of some, grimacing in fornt of others, stiffening, crouching, striding, crawling, creeping. It's really quite fascinating - and is due argualbe to the connotative effects of the formal/material properties of pieces. a good curator - can tap into this energy - and structure pieces in a room - so viewers float harmoniously between them. I *think* the best analogy is with music - annd how to compose works for quite diferent instruments. Nature by proxy has managed t ustapose - a big photograph of jenolan caves, a whole heap of sculptures made from plastic drinking straws, a few grey and dark conservative paintings, a video piece, some werid surrealist prints on metal, some elctron miscrographs and John's own perspex flouro pieces in a room and it works.

All the pieces are singularly intriguing - but noting the resonances between them - is quite enjoyable. My favoruite piece overall was Harriet PArsons "Call Signs. I thin it was the exquisite crochet and LED's into delicate tree forms -with a funny pinging sensor thing, (it was on the invite). but the way the little tree forms managed to work with her large gouache landscapey sketch thing behind is what I really liked. Go donwstairs and enjoy it. its nice.

After such delights - I breezed out of Brian Moore ready for anything. Even Glenmore Road. Alas. Stupid me. horror of horors. Beige Blandness, vapid posturing. Incredible, indelible stupidity. glenmore Road between Oxford Streets and five ways is to be avoided.

It was so ghastly that I didn;t have the heart to face the barricades on oxford street and venture into phatspace. Theres a show on until the end of this week. Infusion is neither and imaginative, original and meaningful title, but I'll forgive them because of the lineup: Marcus Keating, Stephen Hilyard, Michael Cousins, Meredith Godley, Andreas Gedin, Emma Jay, Nobody Who, Kate Faulds. I'll chekc it out on wednesday and get back to you about it. but it closes on July 9th.

*NMCCOT = Not Quite My Cup Of Tea