What the Gang’s reading…

30 04 2009

book

 

The book illustrated by the (maybe)painter of the mysterious ‘Bega Portrait’, Ray Wenban (sent down by the National Library.)





This week’s gallery openings…

28 04 2009

CoastalConnect…

At Ivy Hill…

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ivy-hill

 

At the Bega Valley Regional Gallery…

 

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Construct: the show…

26 04 2009

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Alex Asch, The golden pig toucher, mixed media

 

     the-revelation

Mariana del Castillo, The revelation, mixed media

 

     mons1

Bob Georgeson, Mons, mixed media

The exhibition, Construct: Sculpture in the house, is about to come down – so for those who missed it, we’re posting it for posterity. And what a beauty it was…

 

(Megsie’s) Curatorial overview:

This show follows closely on the heels of Bermagui’s Sculpture on the Edge and quite consciously so. The happy circumstance of a vacancy in our exhibition program provided us the opportunity to extend the sculptural schematic to an audience already primed and receptive, and to introduce them to work of a more intimate nature. Whereas sculpture historically conjures up notions of monumentality – of sentinel endurance and poised grandeur – wrought and forged and intrinsically conspicuous, the work of the artists in Construct is at once familiar and private and inversely monumental in terms of an almost epic domesticity. This exhibition still tackles all the big questions – sex, life and the universe – but in a visual language that tugs at our collective memory through a construct of the careworn, abandoned flotsam of everyday life. Indeed all three artists, whether in 2D or 3D, employ a complex layering of emotion, material and intent to throw light on specious social mores that give us pause to contemplate the myriad absurdities of life.

 

Ecuadorian born artist Mariana del Castillo and American Alex Asch met at art school in Canberra some 20 years years ago, and have been practicing in a symbiotically simpatico capacity ever since. Though maintaining strictly separate practices, what they do obviously share is a genuine love of material and a clear understanding of the connotations inherent in the use of that material. Both are committed recyclers, unerringly identifying the beauty of discarded ‘detritus’ – which in turn delivers both narrative and a multi-layering of poetic embellishment to their respective practices.

 

Del Castillo’s work is quite clearly influenced by her Ecuadorian roots. These ‘tableaus’ are imbued with the magic-realism found in the wider South American literary culture, and taking them in is akin to curling up with a favourite South American author. They’re so lyrical and mystical. So enthrallingly visceral. Each work an encapsulated narrative, a tender balance between a private biographical circumstance and the greater universal consciousness. This is, fundamentally, women’s business; cradling all the joy and pain that life entails. It stands both poised and literally pregnant with enshrined privacy – for which del Castillo makes no apology. We really don’t need to know the intimate particulars to feel the pith and the pathos. Nor does the ‘secrecy’ interfere with our intuitive appreciation of her rich aesthetic detailing.

 

Alex Asch’s aesthetic approach tends more toward the minimal. He is both drawn to naturalistic materials (metals and glass as opposed to plastics) and driven by the intellectual fascination vested in the re-invention of the found object. In this he subscribes to the school of Du Champ – with a Bostonian take, of course. His work invariable has a humorous edge –  sagacious observations of the ironies in life – and he’s not one to shy away from socio-political concerns. (As anyone who has seen his recent Guantanamo Man series can attest.) But Asch’s brand of sedition is a soft-shoe shuffle; he pokes and prods gently at the wider social conscience – if only to ensure that the home fires of compassion still retain some spark. Invariably he cocks an eye at risible enigmas – the Ready to Wear piece, for instance, was prompted by the haute couture/prêt a porter scenario, and contemplates the brittle absurdities of the cat-walk and high fashion industry.

 

While maintaining very disparate practices, what Mariana and Alex do patently share is a genuine love of material and a clear understanding of the connotations inherent in the use of that material. The overriding sensibility is one of infinite charm and exculpation – of salvation in simplicity, beyond and despite the reckless inhumanity of our time. There’s something almost Shaker in Asch’s work which yet sits astonishingly well in apposition with del Castillo’s arcane ‘catholic’ memorabilia. Each, in their own way, pays homage to The Relic.

 

The voice of the third person in the show is that of Bermagui artist Bob Georgeson (winner of the SEMAG exhibition held here earlier this year.) His most recent work is photomontage – often a dense construct of compelling, symbolic imagery of a psycho-sexual nature that delves into the straticulate hypocrisies of social convention. His ongoing Bridal series explores the conflicts inherent in the romance versus reality conundrum of the time immemorial mating game. Captivated by bridal magazines found in op-shops, he strives to reconcile the modesty of the veil with the louche sexuality of the garter. For Georgeson, the bride is the universal sacrificial lamb, central player in a coyly titivating ritual that masks a darker purpose. Here love and desire are caught in the erotic mesh of a carefully marketed and mannerly, staged drama – where bridezilla secretes the excesses of her cheap and sleazy hen’s night in the demure folds of unimpeachable white, and the complexity of the marriage bed wreaks havoc on the romance. In this modern day Dickens, Miss Havisham gets her wedding day, but the bouquet wilts and decays regardless. Georgeson is a dadaist at heart, and consequently at odds with cultural and intellectual conformity. His practice is a balanced assemblage of decorous imagery offset by a quiet cynicism, and is at once mesmerizing and repellant in its contrivance of an inevitably deviant beauty. And yet surely we can detect just a hint of tenderness for the very vulnerability of that doomed dream.

 

Construct: Sculpture in the house is a complex show, representing astute artistic handling of both media and concept. There is a fascinating visual dialogue at play in the room. And – glued together by diverse sentiment and strung on humanist ideology – an almost unfathomable yearning for the safety of the (metaphoric)womb.

 

 

 

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Alex Asch, Guitars, mixed media

 

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Alex Asch, collage series

 

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 For more snaps, go here.





Klaus at MAD…

26 04 2009

Nigel just pointed us to some promo for Klausie’s imminent opening in New York…

 

           from-the-horizon-series

 

He opens at the Museum of Arts and Design on Wednesday and with any luck will send through some snaps.

Meanwhile for the article in question, go here.





Retrospective spice II…

21 04 2009

Granny and the Gang customarily dine with Chloe when in Melbourne, its kind of our thing. But we’d bought a Gourmet Traveller to read on the plane which featured an article extolling the virtues of a fab little place in Johnson St, Fitzroy, called The Commoner – so we dumped poor Chloe for once and went in search of fresher pastures. (And now that our favourite dame was profiled on last Sunday’s ABC Arts Program, we suspect her boudoir’ll be too tediously crowded from now on.)

Anyhoo, how pleased we were that we went – what a marvellous, cosy little place; run by a couple of sheilas (Aussie and French) who met and worked in Europe together.

 

granny-at-the-commoner

 

The Commoner serves classic French and English ‘country’ tucker – lovingly cooked without a skerrick of pretension. And it really was wonderful. The place is small and intimate, the staff relaxed and comfortably domestic and it felt like a lovely Sunday lunch at home, without the hassle of serving and washing up. Perfeck. Add to that the informal artwork, the wood-fired oven in the courtyard, the cushioned ambience and a choice little wine list and you’ve got yourself a lazy afternoon of therapeutic bliss. Even the art in the dunny was cool.

 

                          the-commoner

                    courtyard-kitchen

 

And then there was Easter, with the usual hullaballoo and the ceremonial eating of the Easter Bunny for Sunday lunch. We had him both as pie and roasted, and there were all sorts of other goodies including Helen’s fabulous Lamb of God (a yummy middle eastern concoction) and Joy’s scrumptious Greek Easter cake (gotta get the recipe). We were a little light on in the Easter Bonnet stakes this year, mainly because we forgot to remind everyone, but never mind. Jacque looked a treat as always…

 

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…and Marcus took out the prize with a tea-cosy.

We’ve already covered the gallery rounds thank goodness, so the only major event outstanding (we completely forgot to take snaps at Roger’s 70th, and at Bob’s Arts Café) is last Friday night’s fundraiser event, Pick a Portrait, at the Regional Gallery. Not a large crowd, unfortunately – we suspect everyone was suffering from sH/EFS  (school Holiday/Event Fatigue Syndrome) – but heaps of fun and plenty of happy winners nonetheless.

 

                             the-auction-team

Thanks to Stan Gorton from the Narooma News for the snaps of the Auction Team (Megsie, Penny, Guy and Rach, above) and the lucky winner of the Andy Forsythe portrait, Di Delle Vergin (below.)

 

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For the full pictorial parade, go here.





A turnaround for the Canberra Glassworks, wethinks…

21 04 2009

We’ve heard all the rumours, now it’s fact! First Clare Belfrage and now Mel George. Warmth and welcome at last at the Canberra Glassworks? You betcha! Strength in numbers.

mel-george

Mel George, Above the Southern Land, kiln formed glass.

Looks like the Canberra Glassworks might  finally be coming in from the cold; first with the appointment of Clare Belfrage as Creative Director, followed by the exciting news of Mel George’s appointment as Manager of Programs and Artists Services. How fantastic. And with the bonus added value of Jeremy!!  Whacko.

Yes, all these guys do bring strong technical skills and managerial experience courtesy of years at the sharp end of the biz – but the most important element they’ll provide is their genuine vocational generosity. These people love what they do and they like to share the joy around. Sans ego, sans agenda. Warmth and a sincere culture of inclusion is what the Glassworks has been in desperate need of since its inception. Better late than never, we reckon.

Congratulations all round – Clare and her team may at last have a crack at it after all.





Freeway art; yeah, whatever…

21 04 2009

On the drive to Flinders, Lizzie took Granny and the Gang along the EastLink, past the ubiquitous offerings of freeway…er…art.

Yeah, well, whatever.

Perhaps we can live in hope that the GFC will stem the tide of all that conceptual trash now littering the sides of our semi-urban byways. Call us a philistine, but Callum Morton’s Hotel just doesn’t to it for us. The folly bit we get, no worries.

 

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“…never quite of this world.”“Hotel is a large scale model of a high rise hotel. It will sit alongside EastLink in an open field. Hotel is effectively a giant folly. Motorists will view it from the caas an actual hotel and perhaps over time as a strangely de-scaled prop that has escaped the theme park or film set. 

 “Hotel continues the development of what amounts to a parallel built universe that I have been constructing alongside the real world for a number of years. In this world things appear in unlikely contexts in oddly de-scaled and altered form, as if they have been pushed down a portal from the recent past and popped out mistakenly in this time and place. Hotel appears as a piece of roadside architecture, only there are no other buildings for miles and you can’t get in. “I have for some time been interested in how we perceive things while in motion, in particular from the space of the car. The freeway belongs to a family of spaces in contemporary life known as non-places. These spaces, that also include sports stadiums, airports, cinemas, casinos among others, are transit zones, built to facilitate our movement through them rather than encourage us to occupy them for any length of time. “So Hotel acts as a type of monument or mirror to the effect produced by both the car and the space of the freeway itself. It is strangely disconnected from the landscape it is in, and its form is distilled and generic rather than specific.

It looks like a number of places simultaneously, as if its identity is unstable and still moving, but it is never quite of this world. In a sense the mirror effect it produces is simply a question about how our worlds are constructed, not an alternate vision but the same one slightly out of focus.” – Callum Morton

(Spiel lifted from the ConnectEast document on Google)

And then there’s this, which ain’t so bad – though must be an absolute nightmare to dust…

 

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                               detail-21

detail

 

“a collision of abstraction and ornamentation…”

“Desiring Machine is a fallen tree/tower lying by the roadway. It is a crashed relic of machine-age desire putting down new roots into the earth and unfurling tendrils from it’s architectonic radii and sections. To motorists speeding past, it is an indeterminate blur, a silhouetted filigree that might be a decaying windmill or other piece of obsolete agricultural machinery – a relic of the struggle of humans to co-exist with nature. The cause of this optical confusion is a vegetal motif, a floral border from a 19th century pattern book that has been adapted to form the base unit of the modular system of this sculpture which is composed of three repeated modular units generated from the ‘original’ pattern.

“Desiring Machine’s recursive plant-like structure unfolds from a single stem five units long that branches into four stems, three units long which in turn branches into nine stems, two units long and finally branches into sixteen stems, each one unit long. It is too mechanical and perfectly symmetrical to be a tree and it is too ornate to be an industrial artefact. In Desiring Machine a collision of abstraction and ornamentation is played out. It appears vaguely utilitarian, logical; it could have been left behind by the road builders or be a collapsed electricity pylon. If so, its structural logic is obscured by intense ornament as if it had been infected by net curtain, lace doily or other item of domestic frippery. These stereotypical oppositions are a playful critique of various forms of techno-industrialism that have too often objectified nature as passive and mechanical, a ‘thing’ to be controlled and made useful.

“Paradoxically, Desiring Machine suggests a pre-modern, Aristotelian conception of nature as an animate plurality filled with purpose, and desire.”  — Simeon Nelson

 

 What we did find ourselves desiring was the run of the mill performance art we got on the way back home, courtesy of CathcartConnect…

 

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