Gallery crawl today – mostly along W24th St. Impressive exhibitions including heavyweights Gagosian and Zwirner. The show that really knocked me was staged at Yossi Milo Gallery – 245 Tenth Avenue (between 24th & 25th St.)
The show titled ‘African Spirits’ – a group exhibition featuring stunning portrait photography by Pieter Hugo – including (pictured) Mimi Afrika, Wheatland Farm, Graaff Reinet, 2013, From the series Kin, Digital C-Print
Spent Saturday afternoon at The Guggemheim – fabulous artworks including Picasso, Mondrian, Pollock, Kupka and Rothko. One of my favourites was Marcel Duchamp’s – Apropos of Little Sister, 1911, oil on canvas.
Home is pleased to be exhibiting work by Sydney based artist Chris Dolman in our ‘The Portrait’ exhibition opening in late August.
“…Chris Dolman makes paintings and objects imbued with incongruent and self-deprecating humour. Drawing from personal experience, art history and popular culture, his work often hovers between existentially driven narrative and slapstick one-liner. Dolman’s areas of interest include failure doubt and anxiety, pathos,loneliness and loss, all of which he explores through his practice with an equal mix of sincerity and irony…”
Dolman was the recipient of the Wallara Travelling Scholarship (2009), awarded the 2017 Art Gallery of NSW Dyason Bequest, ArtStart and New Work from the Australia Council for the Arts and Artist Support from Arts NSW. Dolman has undertaken international residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Villa Belleville Paris, and Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium.
National residencies include: Hill End, Bundanon Trust, BigCi NSW, Ceramic Design Studio, Parramatta Artists Studios, and Artspace Sydney.
Pictured is an installation shot of Chris Dolman’s 2019 ‘Falling from a Broken Ladder’ exhibition at Galerie pompom.
Chris Dolman is represented by Galerie pompom, Sydney.
Many thanks to arts writer Eleanor Zurowski for her engaging take on the ‘Memory Betrays Everybody’ exhibition. Also, a big thanks to Naomi Riddle and Hannah Jenkins at Running Dog for publishing the piece.
Please click on the link and have a read – it’s highly recommended.
Many thanks to arts writer Jane O’Sullivan for her excellent essay on the ‘Memory Betrays Everybody’ exhibition.
Lighting the way home
Memory betrays everybody, especially those who we knew best. It is an ally of oblivion, it is an ally of death. – Joseph Brodsky
I visit on one of those crisp Autumn days when it feels like the sky is about to shatter. It’s been hot for too long, but the weather has finally turned and my body hums with it. This is what it should be like, this is what I remember. It’s a physical relief. Perhaps home is just the familiarity of knowing how things work, or what comes next. It’s a strange way to walk into an exhibition about exile.
Memory Betrays Everybody brings together the ex-Yugoslav artist and writer Dragana Jurišić, who now lives in Dublin, with the Croatian-born and Sydney-based installation and multimedia artist Biljana Jančić. It’s dark inside, and the first thing to break the gloom is a long table spread with documents; photographs and texts that are spot-lit like artefacts in a museum display case. At the far left there is a thick paperback book, Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. Published in 1937, West’s book is a kind of extended travelogue through Yugoslavia and a portrait of Europe on the brink of war. Jurišić took a copy of this book with her when she was finally able to return to the home she had left as a teenager. She loosely followed West’s path, effectively chasing a ghost through a country that no longer existed.
As she went, Jurišić took photographs and wrote notes, later piecing her experiences into the acclaimed photographic book YU: The Lost Country. Excerpts from this project are presented in Memory Betrays Everybody. One photograph on the table shows the notes Jurišić wrote in the margins of her book. Still so many burnt houses. Fuck.
Another photograph focuses on an old man holding a dandelion. There’s an oblique sadness to the image that gains shape in her notes. The man is grieving for a young child killed by passing car. He has been waiting hours for someone to come and collect the body.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing images is of a puddle of blood on top of a boulder. Jurišić’s notes, placed alongside the photograph, explain it as part of a history of animal sacrifice in the region. She seems to consider it largely in terms of cultural attitudes to hope and violence, but it also reads as a visual metaphor for a land recovering from war. The blood has yet to seep into the cracks.
While they’re documentary, these images are also part of a meditation on photography, memory and power. Behind the table, playing on a large screen, Jurišić talks frankly about her experiences losing her home, her country and her national identity when Yugoslavia broke apart in 1991. She says that her father was an ardent amateur photographer and when their house was burned down, thousands of his negatives were destroyed. She became, she says, “one of those refugees with no photographs, with no past”.
The impact of this moment speaks to the way that photographs can dominate or even override our own memories, at times seeming more solid than the unreliability of our own minds. For Jurišić, taking her camera back to her former home seems to have given her a sense of distance and control. She says it was like disowning a home that had displaced her.
In a curtained alcove to the side, Jurišić lays out her memories of what happened when she was a teenager. TV monitors hover in the shadows, stacked on top of each other. Some are in colour, some black and white. They play the same footage of a woman, out in the cold. The wind blows her hair and the fur of her hood across her face. The words of the voiceover are like strobe lights, illuminating small, sudden moments from the past.
I remember grabbing onto her until all my nails broke.
She says that about her mother.
I remember the soles of my red converse shoes melting.
She says that about returning to her home after it was burnt down.
I remember walking out.
These memories are voiced in a spare, matter of fact way, one flash after another. As they accumulate, the experience with the work takes on a fragmented, dreamlike quality. This is also mirrored in the dramatic installation of the exhibition, with screens and objects appearing to float in the shadows. Biljana Jančić’s large-scale photographs, which are exhibited in the central exhibition space, seem at home in this world of light and dark, even though they engage with very different ideas.
Rather than looking at the lived experience of exile and diaspora, Jančić’s practice considers displacement in visual and spatial terms. Past site-specific projects have seen her inserting sculptural elements into exhibition spaces, or placing coloured tape and light projections on the floor and walls. These interventions engage with and disrupt the way we see these spaces. Her projects often prompt questions about borders and demarcations, and highlight how unquestioningly we occupy and move within our physical environments. In Jančić’s work, space is not just an empty void to be filled, but something already shaped and imprinted by architecture, culture and history.
In Memory Betrays Everybody, Jančić presents three abstracted photographs from her 2018 series Concrete (variations). The grand scale of these works is at odds with their everyday origins: a box of tissues, lit up by the sun. Jančić has photographed them so that the tissues appear to be alternately reaching up like candle flames or buckling like the tin walls of a fire-damaged shed.
Texture is hard to discern. The surfaces are reduced to planes and facets, and the folds in the tissue are sometimes only captured in the palest of greys. These white shapes are set against flat, black backgrounds, letting Jančić play with ideas of negative space and form, pressure and resistance. There is a tension to these images. The forms feel both monumental and too fragile to last much longer. They are just soft tissue, after all.
In a political climate that seems to be gathering around the old monoliths–nationalism, idols, monuments–the work presented in Memory Betrays Everybody takes on added significance. On the main screen, Jurišić talks about what being an exile has meant for her, and how it has reshaped her whole way of being. She is alert and watchful, “constantly observant,” she says. Perhaps, among all the things she has lost, is the ability to ever be completely at ease.
Home is thrilled to be exhibiting work by Sanné Mestrom in our ‘The Portrait’ exhibition opening in late August.
Sanné Mestrom’s practice draws on 20th century iconic modernist works to explore the psychological, emotional and cultural significance attached to them. She explores how value is accorded to these objects, how they are always tied to their cultural and art historical contexts and how they may become substitutes for particular values or beliefs. Through replication, appropriation and disruption her work filters historical mythologies through her own systems of reference, questioning notions of lineage, originality and influence, further altered through her experience of ‘making’.
Mestrom holds a PhD in Fine Art (2008) and a Graduate Certificate in Public Art (2011), both from RMIT University. She was a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary in 2010-11, and has also held residencies in Mexico City, 2010, and Seoul, South Korea, 2001.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Sanné Mestrom: Black Paintings, Mcclelland Sculpture Park+Gallery (2018); Corrections, Gippsland Art Gallery, Australia (2018); Weeping Women, Ian Potter Public Sculpture Commission, Monash University Museum of Art (2014); The Internal Logic, West Space, Melbourne and La Trobe Regional Gallery, Gippsland, Victoria, (2013); and The Reclining Nude, Studio 12, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2012). Mestrom presented major new large-scale works at Encounters, Art Basel Hong Kong (2017) curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor.
Selected group exhibitions include TarraWarra Biennial: From Will to Form, TarraWarra Museum of Art (2018); Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2016); Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, Shepparton Art Museum, Victoria (2015); NEW13, ACCA, Melbourne (2013); Future Primitive, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2013); Pretty Air & Useful Things, MUMA, Albury (2013); Ode to Form, West Space, Melbourne (2012); Figure & Ground, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne (2011); OCTOPUS 11 The Matter of Air, Gertrude Contemporary (2011); An ideal for living, Linden Gallery, Melbourne (2008); and Standing on the shoulders of Giants (with Kate Newby), Münster, Germany, 2007.
Mestrom was winner of the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize in 2017. She is the recipient of an Australia Council Grant, City of Melbourne Grant, several Arts Victoria Creation Grants, winner of the Art & Australia Emerging Artist Award (2013), John Fries Memorial Prize (2011), a NAVA Janet Holmes Artist Grant, the Siemens Post Graduate Fine Art Scholarship Award and an Australian Post Graduate Award for her PhD research.
Mestrom is a Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts (Sculpture) at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
Pictured is Untitled (Self Portrait, Underground), 2017, bronze, concrete and steel.
Sanné Mestrom is represented by Sullivan & Strumpf, Sydney.
Home is thrilled to be exhibiting work by Sydney artist Cherine Fahd in our ‘The Portrait’ exhibition. Opening in late August the show will also feature works by artists including Bill Henson, Sanné Mestrom, Heath Franco, Tamara Dean and Lynda Draper.
“…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?
Apókryphos 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 one of the works from the Apókryphosseries – part of The National 2019 at Carriageworks.
Installing at Black Box – UNSW Art & Design today.
Join me for opening drinks from 5-8pm on Thursday night. ‘Memory Betrays Everybody’ features the work of Dragana Jurišic & Biljana Jančic.
The show runs from Tuesday the 28th to Saturday the 1st of June.
“…our collective memory is shaped by the ideology of the day. The politics of memory enables a regime to record its rendition of the past. History is determined by this shared remembrance…”
Built in 1973, the monument at Mitrovica known as ‘Monument to the Mining Heroes’ was designed by renowned architect and academic, Bogdan Bogdanović.
Standing in the form of some lost Roman addition to Stonehenge, Bogdanović’s huge concrete monument in the town of Mitrovića is a homage to those lost if the fighting during WWII.
Mitrovića is one of many monuments scattered across the former Yugoslavia commissioned by President Josip Broz Tito to convey a sense of confidence and strength in the new Socialist Republic. Designed and built in the ‘60s and ‘70s by leading architects and sculptors, these memorials are located at sites of battles and concentration camps commemorating the victims of fascism in WWII.
The aesthetic beauty of these brutalist structures challenges their innate and commemorative intention. Devoid of signs of ideologies, war heroes or religions, these abstract forms were symbols of a modern and unified future.
The original intention for the creation of the monuments has resulted in their demise. As the Balkans War took hold in the early ‘90s and Yugoslavia fell apart, the monuments became touchstones for the inherent hatred, bigotry and fanaticism from the past – Nationalism destroyed Yugoslavia.
Nationalism is often the last refuge to those who have, or believe they have, no other options available to them. This last resort whether real or imagined can sometimes have tragic consequences. The gruesome scenes of the Charlottesville riots on August 12th 2017 and President Trump’s response to white supremacists’ actions had far-reaching ramifications around the globe.
Far-right groups had gathered in Charlottesville to protest the decision to bring down a monument of Confederate General Robert E Lee. Protests came in the form of extreme references to Nazi ideology. Disturbing scenes of torch carrying white supremacists chanting ‘Blood and Soil’ and the death of a peaceful protestor, run down by an enraged white supremacist, were amplified by President Trump’s response ‘condoning’ the actions of far-right groups.
The commemorative sculptures scattered across the former Yugoslavia, including Mitrovića, are reminders of the evils of fascism. The preconditions for potential disaster are materializing across Europe. Rising support for far-right political parties including Alternative for Germany, the slide towards authoritarianism in Poland and Hungary, and the multitude of displaced Muslim refugees moving throughout Europe adopts a familiar pattern to the catastrophe that took hold in Germany the late 1930’s.
There are unnerving signs that present-day Europe is inching towards a repeat of past events. Advocacy of the far-right by the US President has aided this dark movement. Here in Australia, there has been a significant and unnerving move towards the right.
Nationalism is being cultivated and beginning to take root.
‘08.05.19’ is an exhibition that explores form through texture, colour and shape. A seemingly simple task, to measure up the weighs of each element, yet the contrasting curation creates lines to depart from. The eye is caught at all angles. Opposing themes of traditional ideologies within femininity and masculinity are balanced through soft colours, smooth textures, and rough, hard edges; that at times, break from the mediated canvas or ceramic object.
Matt Butterworth’s ceramics are the perfect starting point for the conflicting materiality of form. Each sculpture defies classification. At [email protected] Gallery, Butterworth’s vessels are lined up on a shelf at the top of the stairs; they are denied a name, all simply titled Untitled #1, 2, 3, and so on, until 11.
However, each object has its own personality within a handheld-sized piece of ceramic. Completely useless as a vessel, as they are broken, with cracks exposing the pressure points of each sculpture. They then seem to grow abnormal flowerings from their smooth curves. They are glazed in a rainbow effect of soft muted colours. Or, gold, like a glistering object from Roman times.
Matt Butterworth’s ceramic pieces are paired with Louise Gresswell paintings; these too defy their medium, and the paint has sculptural qualities that veer out of the canvas. Unframed, the artworks are poised on the walls like hanging objects, rather than traditional 2D representation. Gresswell says these works, titled, Fractured (blue & black) or Untitled (red velvet), (both 2018), are about the action of the painting and embracing imperfection.
This embodiment of performance as painting is mirrored in the works of Kyle Murrell, whose paintings reflect the act of making, tracing the lines in a drawing action. Murrell exposes the repetitious activity, saying, “once I break the canvas, I know I am done.” Simply framed in light wood, the paintings return to an unconsciousness, and are heavily textured. Mediated by the natural frame, they are conflicts to notions of nature and drawing, expanding on human ideas through interruption.
Josie Cavallaro’s series Grazing on Graves (2018/19) continues the musings on form with nature, through conceptual disruptions. Her sculptures are composed of ceramic flowers, in pinks, yellows, and whites, resting on raw concrete hunks. The works are inspired by a friend’s visit to her mother’s grave at a cemetery in a regional town, where she was advised not to place fresh flowers on the grave as kangaroos eat them. Grazing on Graves becomes a consideration on grief and social ritual — reflecting onto the metaphors within the beauty of flowers, and practicality of concrete.
Chris Capper’s still life painting, Roses (1987) is hung above Cavallaro’s sculptures, depicting pink and white roses in a white vase. Roses marries well with the sculptures and resist the themes in the rest of the upstairs level. Through its stillness of form, the painting exposes the delicate nature of human expression.
Downstairs in the gallery, Capper’s other still life paintings transcend classification with geometric lines that divide the canvas into blocks of grey or burgundy. Capper combines the methodology of still life paintings with formalist abstraction to create representations of memory rather than reality.
Tilly Kubany-Deane’s ceramic sculptures are also downstairs with Lisa Patroni’s monochrome paintings. Gold Loops (2018) is an example of Kunbany-Deane’s rejection of form. She creates departures from the vessel, standing at 53cm tall, with loops pushing out the clay form, providing alternative ideas to containment. Lisa Patroni’s paintings reverse this ideology in pure, white-washed oil of linen. Where other works in the exhibition are made of complexing narratives of form and shape; Patroni’s artworks offers space to meditate on the show.
‘08.05.19’ is a resistance to all measures of art, and the extension into the contemporary art scene. The works are small and inviting but densely layered to create a narrative that extends throughout every artwork. Memory and reality are placed within a juxtaposition that mirrors the history of aesthetic abstraction, the functionality of design, and the trace of personal artistic expression – at Home.
Home is pleased to be exhibiting painting by internationally acclaimed Chinese-born artist Xue Mo in our ‘The Portrait’ exhibition in August.
Xue draws her subjects from her homeland of Mongolia and is singularly focused on the female subject, impressed by the ‘noble simplicity, natural beauty, and serene dispositions’ of the young fieldworkers.
Her portraits are more than representations of female beauty. Xue Mo’s premise is that the composition of these paintings acts as a focal point for meditation on such concepts as virtue, beauty, serenity, benevolence, and tranquility.
Xue Mo appears courtesy of Catherine Asquith Art Advisory, Melbourne.
Pictured is Naren Tuya (“sunset sunshine” in Mongolian), 2010, Oil on linen
I’m thrilled to be presenting work by Sydney artist Biljana Jančić in ‘Memory Betrays Everybody’, opening at Black Box at UNSW Art & Design next week. Join us for opening drinks on Thursday the 30thof May from 5-8pm.
The key theme in Biljana Jančić’s work is displacement. She works primarily with large-scale spatial interventions. These works respond directly to architecture and socio-historical contexts of spaces. Jančićregularly exhibits work in a wide range of independent and institutional contemporary art spaces.
In ‘Memory Betrays Everybody’, Biljana Jančić’s work Concrete (Variations 1-5) takes everyday objects and transforms them through photography. What is known at the moment the photo is taken is remade over time by the image. Images like memory can betray reality.
Concrete (variations 1-5)began as an observation of a tissue box sitting on the dining table. A single tissue had been illuminated by the afternoon sun in such a way that it almost appeared as if it was made of concrete. This gave the tissues a symbolic value, as tiny, ephemeral monuments to the fragility and revery of domestic space. In this project the tissue dispenser became a random form generator that revealed endless architectonic variations.
Pictured is ‘Concrete (variations 1-5)’, 2018,Digital prints on vinyl – from the NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship finalists exhibition at Artspace. Photo by Zan Wimberley.