SUSIE SMITH REVIEWS 17.08.16

Thanks to arts writer Susie Smith for her review of our 17.08.16. exhibition.

Paint, texture and the traceable hand of the artist threads throughout 17.08.16. [email protected]’s current exhibition presents an all-female line-up of artists whose work, when placed together, forms a fascination with colour, mark-making and the physical properties of their materials.

Zoe Kirkwood’s acrylic and mdf “drip” sculptures crystallise this perspective.  Dotted throughout the terrace space, Kirkwood’s works take the physicality of paint itself as their subject. Kirkwood gives us the very “stuff” of art to contemplate. Each work forms a portrait of a single mark or splash of paint, magnified and gargantuan, slick and high gloss, as if still wet and forming their ultimate shape. Many of the works are suspended on knotted brightly coloured climbing ropes with metal fixtures, bringing them out from the wall to pun at pigment suspensions and layerings of paint, and ultimately casting the white walls of the terrace as a vast and intricate canvas. There is a tongue-in-cheek element to these works, and Kirkwood has clearly had fun melding the fluoro flecked sporting ropes with a lavish Baroque upholstery tassel and a shimmering, solid splash in her installation The Palatine Chapel, positioned altar-like at the end of the terrace’s upstairs corridor. There is both a reverence and brutality towards the materials of art; an ambivalence which seems to be directed squarely at the tradition of painting. This is most evident in Kirkwood’s acrylic on canvas paintings of paint which hold more than a latent violence and recall Gleesonesque melting bodies.

In the absence of literal, visible brushwork within each single mark conceit, Kirkwood seemingly investigates the relationship between maker and made, material and subject, as in these works the hand of the artist is abstracted from her creation. The works of each of the five artists in 17.08.16 form a conversation on this point.

Sue Beyer’s painterly works parley with Kirkwood’s splashes. Landscapes and a sense of place emerge from the multitude of expressive marks in these small canvases. Imagined gardens form and paths recede into distant horizons. Beyer gives us a hazy dream of place in dappled markings through which we can discern our own imagined spaces. These are paintings about the limits of representation, which ask us to squinch our eyes and glimpse the outlines of times and places past.

Lined along the shelf below Beyer’s works and in the antique vitrine nearby, Tania Rollond’s delicately painted ceramics map a history of touch. Rollond draws and paints directly onto her fired works with ceramic pencil and richly coloured stains, and her hand is visible in each piece. Fine spider webs of intersecting lines contrast linear patterns of incised oxide pigments and geometric tessellations of pastels, greys and indigo shades. Elsewhere looser, painterly passages curl around the curve of the tear-drop form of Glimmer. Rollond’s sculptural works have a unity of form and surface; each is enveloped in a patternation in-sync to its form. Her works cluster as an almost architectural landscape of curved and squared-off shapes, allied together like figures in discussion. Rollond is interested in oddly familiar forms, and employs an element of humour and whimsy in works such as the inverted vase-cum-sculptural-totem Opposite Tack.

Inside the booth, Kirsten T. Smith’s loop of animated video works is equally interested in revealing the materiality of its elements. Smith animates her painted work using stop motion, incorporating brushwork and the texture of paint to delineate movement in her videos. In The Hand of Glory thick globules of oil paint multiply across the screen as a horror scene of blood, whilst ink splashes and collaged elements appear in the other works. The continual physical presence of the artist moving back and forwards to rearrange the stop motion is felt in the dizzying carousel spiral of Head Spin, and the flickering expressions of the painted spinning head.

Nearby, Rosie Deacon’s work is an explosion of riotous colour. Like Kirkwood, Deacon’s work reaches out to embrace the gallery wall as a canvas. Handfuls of Fun Foam bunched to form the wall panels embody the touch of the artist. These panels form a camouflage block of brilliant colour to absorb and display her bejewelled and embroidered Beware, Dingo Downunder Ahead Tea Towel and Koala Bridge Climb Tea Towel, souvenirs of a fantastical journey to Oz. Here Deacon continues her fascination with Australian kitsch à la the bright splash of Ken Done, and extends the souvenir motif to a jewellery range of Koala Smiley Souvenir Necklaces. A koala face frowns down from the foam wall, hidden in the haze.

In its usual fashion, [email protected] has drawn disparate straws together to tease out common threads and focus our thoughts on the maker and the made.

Susie Smith

artist Rosie Deacon
artist Rosie Deacon
ceramics by Tania Rollond
ceramics by Tania Rollond
animation by Kirsten T Smith
animation by Kirsten T Smith