Not exactly sure that I like the title, but really liked the exhibition. A bunch of emerging artists*. I didn’t like all of the work, but that’s no surprise.
Max Callaghan’s “Cat Soul” was the first to make me interested. And, not surprisingly, “NFS”.
The West Gallery is divided into three chambers, in the rear chamber, Loren Orsillo’s works are to be found, clustered in such a way that they appear to be an audience or worshippers. I liked them a lot, art povera, small wall hung (sometimes painted) sculptures mainly made from detritus or the misplaced components that might be found in the “odds and ends / I’ll fix it later” drawer, bleached and drained of colour. Somehow comical, a bunch of wallflowers waiting to be asked to dance? “Pinball Tic”, made of canvas, wood grain contact (I wonder “What ever did happen to Katie Moore?”), acrylic and wood block, is assembled in such a way that it appears as if it has already started dancing on the spot. The “cluster” would make a great set of cartoon characters, “The Scrappy Gang”. Or they might be the new best friends of Spoony, from ToyStory4. They remind me somehow of the work of John Armstrong from the ’70’s. There’s a “funk” about them, though it’s definitely not “Skangaroovian”. And her artist’s statement even made sense and was humorous. That is a very good sign, when the artist can explain what they are doing in words that are able to be understood. It probably means they know what they are doing not just imitating what they think they are supposed to be doing. (I see a lot of stuff in galleries that isn’t art but that looks like what someone thinks art is supposed to look like, currently.) And if they do so in a way that is funny at all, that’s even more appealing.
On the other hand, I’ve no idea why Sam Howie’s paintings are titled as they are, and I can not connect them to his / her artist’s statement. But the paintings are very beautiful; simultaneously delicate and tough, a very difficult line to walk. White textural square canvases with slim lines of colour, not dissimilar to the pattern found on a particular form of t-towel. Actually, quite a lot like that pattern. “Landscape with figures”? Figure doesn’t necessarily mean people, though that is the common usage, even more commonly in a visual art context. If Fred Williams’s sinuous trees where reduced to their most essential form these figure might be alluding to something similar. Is the intention map like? The lines of paint don’t look like they are on the surface of the painting but behind it, like a pathway, a track or a road, carved into the surface of the land over time, there is the appearance of a fissure and that you are peering into / at a source of heat / energy. And they are very pretty, as well.
Joel Gailer’s works, particularly the sculpture paintings, were very clever, but I’m not completely convinced that clever is, necessarily, a good thing in art. Clever seems a bit like game playing, a bit cynical. Clever can become smart-arse very quickly. But it has always interested me since I saw an exhibition by a (then future) SALA monograph artist a couple of years ago and thought it was clever: but as a career move/ a repositioning, a holding of time. At the time it felt very cynical. To be honest, I’d never really admired their work. And then mysteriously, and very much to my surprise, I really liked the next exhibition by that same artist, much more so than I’d liked any of their previous work. So: “clever”? I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Gailer does next, rather than being completely won over by the work at “West”.
It’s an interesting exhibition: 14 artists of whom I’ve only written about three. I like what “West Gallery” is doing. I really hope they are able to “run on”.
*The “book whisperer” once suggested that the various arts councils (state and federal), should have a “submerging artist” category: for mid career artists who were failing and needed a re-boot. And , by the way, there are statistics which indicate that the millions invested by arts councils have not led to an increase in artists income in general, except for those artists who continue to be supported by arts councils. But their incomes, mainly, only increase (or are maintained) by those council grants not from other earned revenue.