Home’s co-director Madeleine Preston was interviewed about her lockdown lectures and her students creative responses to lockdown at the National Art School.
Written by Lissa Christopher, the article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald during the week.
Feminist Fight Club addresses the gendered nature of materials and art practices, specifically the systemic art historical bias that assigns gender to materials and has resulted in some materials including textiles and ceramics relegation to less valued art objects.
Home is pleased to be exhibiting a suite of works by Brendan Vivian Smith in our 2020 program.
“…Smith literally rescues these wooden off-cuts from rubbish skips, repurposing them as artworks, which operate simultaneously as painting and sculpture. The use of quotidian materials is informed by Smith’s admiration for the Italian arte povera movement, with the furniture designer Enzo Mari being another significant influence…” from an essay by Hamish Sawyer
Home is pleased to be exhibiting a suite of works by Zara June Williams in our 2020 program.
Zara June Williams completed a Masters of Fine Arts at the National Art School and was granted the Lift Off Award to support her artistic pursuits in the year 2019. She recently undertook a three month residency at Pilotenkueche in Leipzig, Germany, where she is continuing to live and work.
“…at its essence her involvement with painting is an attempt to gain insight into
the cyclical nature of the mind, to test and observe the relationship between
chaos and control. Her work shows how we oscillate between states of being,
both conscious and unconscious, when we engage deeply with materiality…”
Pictured is Tributary (Deviate), 2019, Acrylic on board
Home is thrilled to be showing work by Sarah Goffman in our 2020 program.
Pictured is Table Peace, 2017, PET found plastics, resin, enamel paint, permanent marker, silicone, dimensions variable, Sarah’s response to an Andre Kertesz photograph from our 2017 Invitational exhibition.
Thanks to Vanessa Berry for her essay ‘Internal Logic’. The essay is included in Home’s ‘Colour & Form’ catalogue that is now available from the gallery. Pictured is Madeleine Preston, Smoker Series – after Guston, 2017, earthenware, dimensions variable. Photo by docqment.
At the end of the hallway at the entrance to the gallery hangs a screenprint by Sydney Ball. Canto XXI is a radiant orange square, which frames a circle of a softer orange, which further frames a stripe of ultramarine. The colours are arresting, their incandescence constrained by the stillness of the precise, geometric forms. It is a distillation of planetary energy, perhaps, or a pattern underlying a mathematical process: one of the gifts of abstraction being the openness of interpretation it bestows on the viewer.
Ball’s Cantos series, initially produced in New York in the 1960s, are landmark works of abstract painting. They were named after an epic poem by Ezra Pound, which the poet worked on for more than fifty years. It is fitting for them to be a reference point for these works by Ball, for Ball’s Cantos also set the trajectory of his life’s work: his preoccupation with colour and form.
The two screenprints from the Cantos, produced by Ball in 2003, are something of a lynchpin for the Colour and Form exhibition. The exhibition combines works from Australian abstract artists of the 1960s – Sydney Ball, Michael Johnson, and John Peart – with contemporary artists working with abstraction in painting and sculpture. The three 1960s artists introduce a range of forms of abstraction, from the formal geometry of Ball’s Cantos, to the textured and organic shapes and colours of John Peart’s 1962 acrylic work Untitled #982, and the dynamism of Michael Johnson’s Collins Street #4 and its dashes and drips of colour.
In counterpoint to the historical precedent of representational painting that preceded it, abstract art offers no “window on the world”. It is an opaque viewing experience, an opportunity to look at the materiality of the artwork rather than through it. Nonetheless, abstraction suggests an internal logic: within the boundaries of the work viewers navigate form and colour in sensory and associative ways.
Jonny Niesche’s Personal Cosmos builds on the immersive, floating effect of a colour field painting, using the reflective and shimmering surfaces of mirrors and voile. The viewer is reflected in the work, shadowed within the pink cosmos, visually becoming a part of it and moving within it. Niesche’s sculptural work Cadence loop #10 shares this shimmering quality. The zigzag strip of steel has been painted an iridescent purple-blue which changes in hue as you move past it, and the light angles differently on its surface.
Other works invite a different method of navigation. Sean Meilak’s sculpture series Arrangements, six collections of geometric and architectural shapes, plays with scale so the viewer, too, feels a telescopic shift in perspective. These could be models of ruins or monuments. Or they could be the elements of a visual alphabet, and each arrangement a phrase or a sentence: Meilak’s process is to cast the elements individually, and to compose the arrangements during installation. Each arrangement has the sense of a light touch, of elements drawn together in the moment.
Intuition was also an important part of the process for Celia Gullett’s painting Geometric Abstraction XXI. Gullett uses layers of oil paint to build up a luminous surface, inspired by medieval works on wood. Her use of colour is often intuitive, developing as the work progresses and one colour leads to another. Here she uses a geometric motif of simple, slightly-overlapping shapes. At the overlapping edges the colours change, and the forms seem to embody the shape of a quiet thought.
Abstract forms heighten contemplation and can suggest a way of thinking as much as a discrete thought. This way of thinking can be playful and indeterminate. In Tomislav Nikolic’s I don’t intend to understand, fields of delicate pastel tones resolve into lines of darker colour within the bright blue of the painted frame. This balance of nebulousness and resolution hints at a thought-state where ideas float, sometimes coalescing, other times drifting. This thought-state contrasts with those suggested by more defined geometry, such as Belle Blau’s Whole Unto Itself, where strong lines create clear boundaries within the space of the canvas, as they open it up into an illusory depth.
Another work of tight geometric composition is Ron Adams’ Lucky Strike for Nicola. Adams’ work takes shape from influences and relationships: in this case the box of matches that is emblematic of his friendship with the artist Nicola Smith. The rows of pale stripes with black tips are interrupted by one varying segment of red, the one unspent match. The red glows with potential, tempting the eye in the same way one’s fingers would reach for the last remaining good match in the box.
The influences that shape abstract work often remain only as the lightness of resonances but can provide a rewarding insight into the works’ intentions. In Smoker Series – After Guston, Madeleine Preston uses shapes from, and the lung-like pink and black colour palette, of Phillip Guston’s Nixon-era paintings. This establishes a visual connection between two eras of American politics: the Watergate crisis of the 1970s, and the contemporary American political situation of the Trump administration.
The resin sculptures of Kate Rohde also engage with the idea of corruption, taking influence from Adolf Loos’ argument, in the 1913 essay “Ornament and Crime”, that excess in design can have a corruptive influence on society. Rohde’s florid bowls and vases have a gleaming, scampering vitality. Each vessel seems to burst forth with ornamentation, a challenge to the neat boundaries of the object.
For all their variations in style, artists who work with abstraction use colour and form to play on our associations, transposing our thoughts and perceptions. Sometimes this is an immersive and quiet experience, and other times an exuberant one, and often our engagement is one of transcendence. The works in Colour and Form carry us into their internal worlds, as they are drawn into connection, across the decades.
The essay written by Sharne Wolff for our ‘Colour & Form’ catalogue has been uploaded to our website and blogs. Pictured is untitled #982, 1965, acrylic, felt tip on paper by John Peart. Courtesy of Watters Gallery. photo by docqment.
COLOUR AND FORM – HOME GALLERY, MARCH 2018
On Wednesday 21st August 1968, Melbourne’s ‘The Age’ newspaper ran a small article tucked to one side of page two. Headlined, On Moon in 1969 ‘possible’. The brief snippet from Washington reported the growing probability of a manned Lunar landing by Apollo spacecraft the following year. The same day, splashed across the front page, an ostensibly more important domestic announcement heralded the opening of the new St Kilda Road premises of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).
Amidst much heady fanfare and the palpable optimism of the era, the inaugural exhibition named The Field welcomed crowds at the new NGV. The aptly titled display included works by forty young Australian artists – most of whom had been introduced to American ‘post-painterly abstraction’ by virtue of their overseas travels or via imported exhibitions. By means of The Field, this new generation of artists entered the mainstream with a selection of colour field and hard edge paintings, shaped canvases and sculptures.
Fifty years on The Field is still regarded by many as a ground-breaking show. Its lasting relevance is visible in Colour and Form – which forefronts the work of three of The Field’s original group of painters. Work by Michael Johnson, Sydney Ball and John Peart – the latter two artists having died in recent years– are accompanied by a larger party of next generation colourists namely, Ron Adams, Belle Blau, Angela Brennan, Celia Gullett, Saskia Leek, Sean Meilak, Jonny Niesche, Tomislav Nikolic, Madeleine Preston, Kate Rohde and Louise Tuckwell.
In the cosy confines of Home Gallery’s living room and hallways, Colour and Form’s intention mirrors that of The Field to, “make possible a considered judgement of the work of these artists seen in the company of their fellows and of stylistic principles they share”. . Curator Anthony Bautovich has juxtaposed the work of emerging artists with that of the three original artists, and grouped together unlikely old and new forms in shared spaces. Historical and mid-career painting and mixed-media works from Peart (1965) and Johnson (1987) respectively, are brought together with Ball’s duo of new-millennia screenprints from the 2003 Canto series (first developed in the mid-1960s), and over twenty recently-made paintings, sculptures and ceramic assemblages.
While five decades separate Colour and Form’s oldest and newest examples, the exhibition demonstrates the Australian artists ongoing regard for the international style originally evidenced in The Field. It modestly nods agreement with the proposition that art’s interest in unravelling the mysteries and potential of colour has never waned. At the same time, Colour and Form proposes contemporary means of exploiting and interpreting the genre.
Encouraging the idea of the movement’s continuum from its American beginnings Bautovich is interested in the parallels between Sydney Ball and American artist, Frank Stella. Favouring Stella’s reductionist style that represented a rejection of abstract expressionism – and drawn from the Canto series based on Ezra Pound’s epic series of poems of the same name, Ball’s Canto IX and Canto XXI are examples of this idea. While formally confined by the geometry of their respective circles, they shimmer with intense colour and a paradoxical sense of the shape’s symbolic infinity.
From the next generation of artists in Colour and Form, we can recognise homage to these pioneering artists being fuelled by the influence of contemporary culture. The transcendental effect of colour in Jonny Niesche’s immersive Personal Cosmos signals the work’s affinity with Mark Rothko’s painting of the 1940s and 50s. Rothko publicly insisted that he was attempting to find “a pictorial equivalent for man’s new knowledge and consciousness of his more complex inner self.”. On closer view – as Rothko himself preferred – the medium of Personal Cosmos is revealed as voile and acrylic mirror. This added dimension delivers a twist and endows the painting with savvy power to reflect the viewer in certain light, including when taking a selfie. Meanwhile Niesche’s zig zag adventures with Cadence Loop #10 (cyan to magenta) – constructed from steel and ‘flip flop’ auto paint that encourages angled viewing – suggest his ability to refresh and extend Rothko’s original concept as well as conserving it.
While it may seem obvious, it is worth noting that each of the artists in Colour and Form share a common and profound interest in colour and form, though each has their unique way exploring these elements in their art. Ranging from Adams’ pop-inspired painting and Preston’s politically-associated assemblages to Rohde’s exotic neo rococo sculptures, Colour and Form epitomises the expansion of the genre and the experimental attitude of the group as a whole.
Later this year The Field will be restaged in its entirety at the NGV. Though only a few will personally remember the heady optimism of Melbourne in 1968, it seems the possibilities for colour and form are increasingly timeless.
The Age, 21 August 1968, 1–2, Melbourne, Google News Archive, 20 March 2018.
Finemore, Brian. and Stringer, John. The Field, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1969, 3.
Anfam, David, Ed. Abstract Expressionism. Royal Academy of Arts, 2016, 113.
The catalogue for Home’s ‘Colour & Form’ exhibition has finally been produced. The exhibition staged during Art Month in 2018 featured a stellar line-up of practitioners of non-objective and hard edge abstraction in two and three-dimensional forms.
Now available from the gallery, the artworks featured in the catalogue are supported by essays from writers Vanessa Berry and Sharne Wolff.
“…for all their variations in style, artists who work with abstraction use colour and form to play on our associations, transposing our thoughts and perceptions. Sometimes this is an immersive and quiet experience, and other times an exuberant one, and often our engagement is one of transcendence. The works in Colour and Form carry us into their internal worlds, as they are drawn into connection, across the decades…”
taken from the essay ‘Internal Logic’ by Vanessa Berry
Pictured from left is Sydney Ball, Canto XXI, 2003, screenprint Tomislav Nikolic, I don’t intend to understand, 2015, acrylic, marble dust, 13.5ct white gold leaf on linen and wood and Angela Brennan, Potami, 2014, earthenware.
Sydney Ball is represented by Sullivan & Strumpf, Sydney.
Tomislav Nikolic painting exhibited courtesy of art consultant Kate Smith.
Tomislav Nikolic is represented by Fox Jensen Gallery.
Angela Brennan is represented by Roslyn Oxley Gallery, Sydney and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.
Home’s Xmas Show kicks off tomorrow. We will be open Saturdays & Sundays from 2-5pm or by appointment up until Christmas.
Come along to see a stellar line-up of artworks by Clara Adolphs, Sydney Ball, Glenn Barkley, Stephen Bird, Rupert Bunny, Guy Boyd, Dora Chapman, Nick Collerson, Adam Cullen, Lynda Draper, Patrick Hartigan, Dale Hickey, David Hockney, Michael Johnson, Mason Kimber, Elwyn Lynn, Ali McCann, Sarah Mosca, Sidney Nolan, Nadia Odlum, Madeleine Preston, Garry Shead, Clare Thackway, Tony Tuckson and Mirra Whale.
Pictured is Sydney Ball, Canto XI, 2003, screenprint, P/P and Madeleine Preston, Last Year at Marienbad, 2018, glazed and underglazed earthenware.
“…there is an unwritten contract that grief is private, unphotographable. Even in the family album it is kept hidden. Family albums celebrate our moments of togetherness; birthdays, holidays and weddings as well as ordinary moments of domestic life. But what of death? What of images of grief and loss?
Apoìkryphos is a response to rare photographs from my family archive. In this series, I offer a forensic examination of mourning and the physical ways in which emotions are visualised, experienced and witnessed. Using image and text I have reproduced 24 photographs taken in 1975 of my Grandfather’s funeral and burial. Using a numerical system of annotations and footnotes, I forensically yet intimately guide you through the mysteries of the event portrayed, offering a visual and literary response to the photographs and to the unknown status of the photographer…”
Pictured is Apókryphos 6-1405, 2019 from Cherine Fahd’s compelling Apókryphos series.
Home’s Co-Director Madeleine Preston is exhibiting this work with blackartprojects at Sydney Contemporary. Jacob’s Ladder, 2018, underglazed porcelain, copper (pictured) will be showing in the Art Money booth. Photo by docqment
“Jacobs Ladder was made in response to my experiences during a residency at the Cité in Paris. The work responds directly to the way particular museums use culture in the service of ideas of empire.
The Quai Branly museum in Paris has an enormous collection that originates in what the museum calls ‘economic exchanges as the result of the first colonial expansion.’
What struck me most was that a large part if not most of the collection would have been amassed through theft and ‘economic exchanges’ that favoured the buyer – if an ‘exchange’ occurred at all.
The Quai Branly like the British Museum is a study in European imperialism. I wanted to make work about how museums are ciphers for violent histories that use aesthetics and display to reinforce dominant narratives.”