Art and mayhem: Mayday
Stuff coming up this week.
Legge Gallery has some amazing wordy dark elegant deep paintings by Annette Iggulden and really creepy photos by Alex Craig. This opens tomorrow night at 183 Regent Street Redfern and runs to 20/5.
Mori Gallery has pop goes political opening on Wednesday Night. Adam Hill’s “A sign of the crimes, Sydney city council” shows everything from a history to uranium to everything else. Think of Monica Behrens meets Guan Wei. Or Gordon Bennett gone glam.Stick around long enough and even stylised apathetic posturing (I mean the history of pop not the history of Adam) goes all ironic and becomes deep and passionate and engaged. And quite good to look at. The smaller room has another painterly popist Anton Pulvirenti doing “Less dangerous than democracy”. I had a preview and both rooms are well painted, colourful and punchy. This was almost consolation for not being able to get into LOOSE (after climbing all those stairs too). May 3- June3 @168 Day Street.
ON the same night Sherman has Peter Atkins “Precious Things”which none of the invite or publicity images do any justice to. He’s got a whole heap of quite obsessively gathered and catalogued objects trouves in clean cut looking. Each piece has a pencil label saying the place and date of the collection, and features things like buttons, plastic bags, random noes etc – form Newtown and Jerusalem. The latter is what gives the work its rub really. For Jewish artists – collection and filing of everyday objects can never be a dry random thing, and the show took on some of the resonance of Susan Hiller's stuff a the Tate Modern. Of course, he’s not Hiller, and discrete points of pain on sale have a somewhat diminished poignancy – but the show LOOKS NICE, and its even deep. Sherman is at 16-20 Goodhope Street Paddington and the show runs form May 4-27.
Down the road, Harrison Galleries also has a show of sombre heartbreak paintings by Eugenie Lee opening the same night. (yes, this Wednesday). She does intense photorealist moody interiors. Runs until May 20th.
Chrissie Cotter Gallery (pidcock street - camperdown - kind of behind the bowling club) has an opening of the Stone Villa + SLY Art. Sly art are from Taipei, and Sotne villa are those nice poeple I was raving about at te Art in the park thing in petersham. this runs until May 21, 2006. The two artist collectives are exchanging works and the participating artists from the Stone Villa include; Mishka Borowski, Simon Cavanagh, Geoff Corbett, Joris Everaerts, Michelle Hanlin, Caz Haswell, Stephen Ralph, Nick Strike and Sam Whittingham.
Harrison Galleries in glenmore Road (don't say Brian) just had a great show by Helen Pyrnor called Breathing shadows, but its over now so you’ve all missed it. This got a good bit of PR – but I wish the works could have needed up in a permanent collection. What kind of freak takes single hairs ties them together and knits them into big long loose garments? I really hope Tracey Clement saw this one. It takes an obsessive fabric freak to really understand another one. Helen also had these panels running around the wall of little photographs. They were of the canal St. Martin in Paris so I couldn’t bear to look at them too closely – but the bare trees had a nice echoing thing of the thin hair fibres.
It’s been a good week for recent graduates of SCA, but not for their livers.
Greg Shapley had an opening on Wednesday night at a small and extremely underused and very low priced ARI in Erskineville. Email me if you wanna show there. The sleazeburger repeats involved a really effective use of the space. Greg exploited his conservatorium roots by hammering out a scary ditty on his partners broken sax, and having it on a loop that wafted around the space (which has really bad acoustics btw) and gave a delightful peep show ambiance to the video projections of sleazy burgers. One was a live hook-up to a burger on a turntable on the balcony. The main video projection was framed with nice bits of velvet – and actually did a nice stereo effect between the back wall and the curtain it was projected on. I’m extremely grateful to Dave D for pointing this out.
Ben Terakes – great little watercolours on paper – that were self-portraits of performances he’d done. Think: Cherry Hood meets Mike Parr – with a fair amount of newly grad grunge thrown in. single largish male figures – standing on a blue milk crate while painting face blue, or wearing a pig mask or a paper bag or doing some weird shit. I liked the humility and whimsicality. There was a fun fleshiness of both technique and subject matter.
After gawking gleefully at naked flash and pigs I wandered into Susan Norrie: work in Progress: Black mist blew me away. The moricave was all dark, except for the single screen projection, framed by the two pillars. It takes a lot to fill the moricave, but this was really amazing. If there are any readers who don’t know who Susan Norrie is she’s usually mentioned in high school textbooks with her bright chunky still lifes from the 1980’s. I even had art teachers bemoan “the loss of a great painter to all that post modern installation shit” that she started doing later. You can find her later stuff, kind minimalism/objecty photographicky semiotically dense kind of thing in most contemporary art texts from the 1990’s. I even found a monograph about her in Finnish. She had a great video “Enola” that was at the last biennale. It showed bits from mini world theme park in Japan with “it’s a small world” playing over the top, and it scanned across to the twin towers and was, haunting. In other words, she’s a high profile established contemporary artist. (HPWECA for short)
Now, when approaching a certified HPWECA piece, it often leads to a certain amount of self-consciousness, and a scary expectation of complacent knowingness in front. I always feel very conscious about having the correct levels of glasses sliding down the nose while sneaking a peek at the floor sheet in order to check that I recognise the oeuvre in front of me. This happens a lot at Sherman but is ameliorated by that nice panel thing separating the two main spaces in the gallery. It’s a chronic problem at the Ox, and I’ve found myself having major kinaesthetic dilemmas for days afterwards. (Am I brainy enough? Did I get? Was I worthy?). So, so, so often it’s all too easy to miss the art for the HPWECAs. Yes, its so and so, it must be good.
So maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned any sort of biog for Susan Norrie and just gone straight to the point. But it was good that the room was so dark that I couldn’t see if anyone was in there, and no-one knew that I was there either. And if anyone did see the Enola video – and enjoyed the sub bass thrum during the plane scanny bit – you’ll understand the quiet spooky intensity conveyed by the current piece – which is a memorial to the Aboriginal tent Embassy in Canberra, which, after 35 years got cleared last month.
It starts with a desert scene, and a group of aborigines making a fire. They must be from South Australia coz they mention Maralinga. Then she has shoots of nuclear bomb tests. Annihilation. Got it? Then the spooky slow movements panning across, in, out, and around the abandoned tents and campsites of the old embassy. The camera glides and different speeds, and a slow sub audible soundtrack hovers behind. Think of Wilfred Owen's deafening silence and you’ve got the picture. Slowly, moving around, obsessively marking time and remapping time spent around campfires. Slow bearing witness. Scary chairs and seductive withered tarpaulins. Whoever said that painting and video art are incompatible should be shot. Twice. Or force-fed an endless diet of icky endless overpriced mars violet. In this piece, we become the drifting slow obsessive seducing eye. And the camera has an impossibly long focal length. Fore and far are all deeply in focus, and yet so slow and strange. But it’s over now, so you’ve missed it!
Speaking of HPWECAs, the Good Hope Gallery had a photographic exhibition featuring portraits of the Sherman Stable inc. by Hari Ho. Individual photos were on sale, and I was counting the red dots to see if it would work as some popularity contest but the buyers were way to cool and got sets of the whole thing. Poorer punters can still buy the book. The bigger space had big c-types of the artist posing in their studios, and the smaller space had B&W full body standing shots of each. Nice. Dualism. Etcetera. Play on notion of photography as constructing/contesting/construing authenticity, plus good measures of the romanticist cult of the artist thrown in. Now the thought of staring into the soul of Tim Storrier is a scary thing, but the colour photograph was damn enlightening. Many people have brushed off the Storrier as a reactionary derivative, hideously kitsch pseudo ocker wanker, but this portrait actually showed just why the man deserves the market value he has, and why he melds in the with boho pretentions of Sherman. The B&W shot showed him staring front on with the chubby face and round glasses and looking scarily like an ex-boyfriend who I still quite like, so I walked away. The colour portrait was placed next to the Parr, who had the same pose, same clothes same setting for each. (Guess the message was ‘I am my studio/work/art’). The Storrier shot was composed like one of his pictures, the landscape darkened by the contra jour as a sunset burned across the centre like a flame. Storrier loomed in the wings in a Drizabone. I thought of Marc Hunter from Dragon in the film clip from “Rain” and realised that this was actually a moving comment for Generation X. for a thirty something bright young thing in a black skivvy and Armani spectacles “it s been rainin, Oh so long” counterposed against the fiery image of a burning sunset on a solar scorched scrub is unspeakably poignant. Even sublime. Juxtaposed against Parr, whose latest oeuvre has colonised the position of Australia’s moral conscience, the Storrier actually had the grab. It’s been rainin’ (not), it always rains after a dry spell, it might rain, I’d better wear the drizabone. Bugger, its still 30 degrees in the shade, it’s enough to make a grown man cry. I can’t go on….
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