Hazy Boundaries

The world around us is always evolving into new states; boundaries are hazy. In the exhibition ‘11.11.15’ at HOME@735 this transformative potential is a key informant in the work of Clara Adolphs, Sally Anderson, Justin Cooper, Madeleine Cruise and Robert Malherbe. The art-making process and object are interrelated in this exhibition in the way the individual paintings and sculptures are each informed by their own logic. The boundaries between the object’s process, space and materiality are all hazy.

Through an analogous colour palette Sally Anderson’s paintings suggest environments but never fully revealing them. You may see a tree or a fence but the contextual information is limited, restricting the painting from ever being fully representational. Instead, the viewer has to guess and speculate as to what they want to see. By limiting colour contrasts foreground and background interior and exterior are condensed and expanded. A clear reading of space is augmented.

Anderson creates her paintings by intuitively playing with colour and perspective. This is a process that privileges randomness and chance. The art-making tools and the painting process are intertwined with the artist’s negotiation of the space and materiality of the act of painting. The artist’s work is then not only an invitation for audiences to interrogate their act of seeing, but it is also a document of Anderson’s own negotiation of seeing as a physical process.

All of the works in this exhibition are products of the artist’s art-making process. In ‘11.11.15’ the artists follow a self-designated logic to create their work. All artists follow some semblance of a logic when making work, however in this exhibition their logic is central; it directs the way the artist interacts with material, perception and space. Subject and material are life forces. These artists do not dominate over their worlds, instead their work’s are and of them.

Robert Malherbe lets the elements speak. The artist paints plein-air. Malherbe paints nature and light as he sees it from where he stands, and depicts these scenes with thick slashes of paint. Similar to Anderson, Malherbe’s paintings are representational-adjacent, Anderson creates moody, levitating spaces and Malherbe translates the atmosphere of his sites. Showcasing a control of colour and shape through broad strokes the artist hints at the warm tones of his landscapes, translating them as hot and dry. The movements of paint across the canvas suggest the speed of capturing a subject that is typical of plein air painting. It is in these hints at process that the artist is found within the painting. The painting is not just a depiction of the Australian landscape as dry and hot, but also a depiction of Robert Malherbe’s physical occupation of that dry and hot Australia. This is painting as document of the physical experience of space.

Clara Adolphs finds old photographs and re-creates the image through painting. This source material is often personal, point-and-shoot style photograph. Some are solo portraits, while others are group shots, but overwhelmingly these source photographs appear as though they would have once belonged in a family photo album. Adolphs re-presents these images through paintings that eliminate or accentuate elements. This process of re-creating the image draws attention to the photograph as a constructed moment. The artist re-draws the posture, the look, the gesture found within the image. A pose tells a story. It is a construct, conscious or not, to distinguish the poser – a story about feeling, about identity, about personality. Through Adolphs’ painted reconstructions the subjects are moved closer to becoming the character their poses were aiming for. The photographs are anonymous and so their stories are unknowable, but in her recreation of the images through painting Adolphs is able to give life.

Justin Cooper’s recycles man-made and natural materials, such as granite, clay, steel and glass by melting them down to create experimental ceramic objects. Their appearance is largely a product of chance. Firing at between 1100°C – 1200°C sees the materials melt and form new mineral assemblages. Once they have cooled and hardened they provide a marbling effect on the bowl. The ceramic process is applied to Cooper’s expanded list of materials, re-thinking how they can be utilised. Cooper’s work is a product of thinking about materials at an atomic level. Granite, clay, steel and glass are ruptured from their states and afforded the opportunity to be something different.

Madeline Cruise scours rubbish bins for materials to create a series of trophies. Egg cartons, plastic bottles and pom-poms are re-constructed and painted to take the form of trophies to everyday achievements. Like Cooper Cruise is also a recycler, Her works are collaborative with people contacting her via text message, Facebook or in person, her collaborators have their experiences acknowledged and memorialized through the artist’s constructed monuments. This negotiation of discarded objects and everyday, and otherwise unacknowledged experiences allows the artist to re-focus attitudes towards how the seemingly ordinary is valued. Cruise’s trophies become important because of the emotional connection they come to signify, hers are objects with feelings.

In the exhibition ‘11.11.15’ at HOME@735, nothing is ever just as it appears. There is always a story that has come before it. The subjects of the artist’s work are a conflation of a materiality and an immateriality of the interrelation of art-making process, space and object. ‘11.11.15’ is an exhibition of objects that skirts definitions, blurs dualities; the boundaries are always hazy.

Robert Malherbe, Ingar Creek, 2015, oil on linen.
Robert Malherbe, Ingar Creek, 2015, oil on linen.
Clara Adolphs, Two Girls, 2015, oil on canvas.
Clara Adolphs, Two Girls, 2015, oil on canvas.