Material Threads: Anthony Bartok, Sarah Edmondson, Sassy Park and Sean Wadey in 26.04.2023 at Home@735
By Zali Matthews
On the opening night of 26.04.2023, the bright red door of Home@735 is thrown open to the street. Inside, the terrace house-cum-gallery’s rabbit warren corridors lead to small rooms and steep staircases, through which the thick crowd navigates past one another to catch a look at the works on show.
Named simply for the date of its opening, 26.04.2023 brings together recent works by four Sydney based artists: Anthony Bartok, Sarah Edmondson, Sassy Park and Sean Wadey. Working across a variety of mediums and techniques, these artists are linked by their splintered explorations into consumerism and hypermediated digital realities, materiality and objecthood, and familial love.
In the living room hangs several monochromatic paintings by Anthony Bartok. Painted with acrylic pen on readymade white gesso board, these comic-like works comprise of images sourced from Google image searches and the artist’s own photographic archive, collaged into bemusing compositions featuring domestic interiors, cityscapes, human figures and animals. Obfuscated by their monochromacy, these composite images, with their odd and jilted narratives, are in danger of blurring into enmeshed compositions.
Bartok describes these works as unconscious and intuitive constructions devoid of clear narratives. “Take the duck,” he says in reference to Duck. “What does a duck symbolise?” It’s a question that, for Bartok, has no answer – like the images in his works, it resists interpretation. Through these disordered and seemingly random archival excavations into our hypermediated digital reality, Bartok creates works that wryly reflect on the incomprehensible and meaningless mass of images online.
Placed upon nearby cabinets and side boards are select ceramics by Sassy Park. Hand-built and hand-painted, they take shape as chickens and budgies with flowers sprouting from holes in their backs, and as figures shown side by side, hugging their pets and posing in their swimwear. Covered in shallow dimples left by the movement of fingers over clay, these ceramics offer familiar, intimate depictions of the people and animals surrounding Park in her everyday life in an infusion of love, warmth and care.
Upstairs, a series of bright and glossy vases by Sean Wadey can be found in the hallway. Adorned in softly gradated, metallic shades of airbrushed enamel paint, they are each embossed with the “turbo” emblem from the rear of the Porsche 911 Turbo model, which retails from over AU$400,000. Sleek and glamorous, these vases are in fact copies of a $7 vase purchased by the artist from a thrift store, duplicated through a slip-casting technique used in the mass production of goods such as car parts. Similarly, the acrylic and auto enamel paintings beside them, which resemble glazed ceramic tiles, are applied onto cardboard sheets. By coating these cheap, mass-produced objects with such high-end finishes, Wadey playfully explores the boundaries between high and low-end consumer products to unveil gulfing disjunctions between functional and commercial values in luxury products, rendering the luxury good wholly nonsensical in its pretensions and consumerist ego.
At the opposite end of the hallway, Sarah Edmondson’s textiles burst from the walls in vivid faux fur tufts, looping tucks and strings of loose thread. They depict fragments of texts from childhood books warped by a photocopier and collaged together into colourful textile compositions, where Edmondson quickly noticed their resemblance to digital reCAPTCHA images designed to differentiate humans from computers. While Edmondson’s works can be interpreted as subversions of the vacuousness of digital images through the laborious and painstaking process of threading, these works truly stand as explorations into childhood memories in reference to her mother.
Across themes and mediums, then, these four artists find loose threads connecting them to each other, not only in their concern of our consumption of digital images and luxury goods, but also in their strong affection for material objects and their capacity to hold memories. At Home@735, unique as both a gallery and intimate domestic space, these themes ring resoundingly true.