Hugh Ford brings his acerbic wit, his vintage aesthetic and his 'ahead of the curve' style to the gallery for his third solo exhibition. After two sellout shows with the gallery, Ford presents a collection of larger works, continuing his exploration of life's lighter and more puzzling moments.
Lucas Grogan’s work is as beautiful as it is dangerous. Any practicing artist will know that in terms of appropriation virtually nothing is sacred. After-all, appropriation is the key to progressive forms moving and shaking within the tempestuous times we live in. All art must go through this process to appeal to upcoming generations and develop new meaning in various contexts. Indigenous art, more specifically that pertaining to Aboriginal Australians however, is not to be tampered with. Or so we are told. The intense spiritual nature of this ancient society’s art practices place it in a realm of iconography that from an outsiders perspective appears to elevate it beyond any comprehension we may have about art. Hence the danger.
Grogan’s method appropriates meticulous Aboriginal techniques traditionally reserved only for those descended from the tribes from which they originate. The deceivingly simple shapes and figures are composed of stunningly fine detail; lines and dots are visually amalgamated into dazzlingly organic forms of banksia seeds and other native flora.
The other side to Grogan’s work is an intense social commentary on not only the figures he is representing but the manner in which he chooses to depict them. A white australian man exposing the seedy underbelly of what has become of the fragile indigenous population of this country is bound to ruffle some feathers. If anything Grogan’s commentary is focused more on the inclusion of Aboriginal art practices into our predominately western cannon, than their bastardization. The ability of non-indigenous Australians to work with the Aboriginal community on sharing techniques can only lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the culture as a whole. Lucas Grogan’s work needs not be met with shock and offense but rather awe at not only his sublime talent, but his tenacity in approaching this sensitive subject in such a beautiful way.
In a recent press release for a show run specifically for young, Western Australian artists, Dan Gladden offered the following self-analysis; “My work relates to the male form in the media, and has a theme of mystery and identity.” He continues, “The use of masks in my pieces suggests self censorship, mystery and filtering of identity.” Though most body image arguments surrounding media representation tend to center on the female figure, the male form is not devoid of the same strenuous stereotyping and sexism. The rise of various different subcultures, sexual orientations and lifestyles has gradually eaten away at the traditional view of the male and men, that most of us were taught to embrace and to some degree, mimic. The fact Gladden has mentioned the word, “mystery” twice in the before statement is significant to his exploration of the various ‘new-found’ facets of male sexuality. His works are a depiction of men, as we may well like to see them; handsome, strong and stoic, however there is a heavy sense of fragility to each work. The masks, as he mentions, ‘censor’ the men and hide the side of their identity that they are told to suppress; the sensitive. The dark, heavy pallet used by Gladden compliments the theme of mystery and identity as too often this struggle against ones emotions in place of a strong façade, can result in pain and suffering. Gladden’s men are beautiful and young, but their faces are partially hidden with hideous gas masks and their mouths silenced. Not so much a commentary on ideas of freedom of speech, rather on the freedom of expression in all its forms, the motif touches on the constant struggle between ones own personal emotions and the emotions which are socially acceptable to project. Part glorification, part deconstruction of the male, Gladden’s skill at depicting the sensual forms of men simultaneously highlights their glorious strengths but also their gentle weaknesses.
The deceiving simplicity of Alun’s portraits is by far their most intriguing aspect. His ability to inject such life into his works using only monochromatic colours is testament to his significant talent. A recent graduate from the National Art School, Alun’s work channels the strenuous preparatory studies of life drawing classes that most students are required to go through day after day. The minimalism of his compositions reflect this concept further as the entire focus is on the physical make-up of the subject; its shadows, sizes and contours, its beauty and defects. The NAS, famous for the intensity to which they devote to their teaching of technique and method, again is shown in Alun’s attention to detail. Many of his works contain a repetition of a portrait on the same work, which are done with a machine like precision; a rare talent in a world fast succumbing to the ease of digital photo-manipulation. The choice of titles for most of his work is also an intriguing insight to his processes. Often accompanying names of series with the ‘TM’ symbol for copyrighted material, along with titles such as ‘Ad Campaign Series,’ suggests a commentary on the over saturation of concepts of beauty in everyday life. Rather than detract from the naturalism that would normally imbue such close studies of objects and people, the monochrome approach infuses a relatively serious genre, with an almost childish sense of playfulness. In deconstructing typically sexualized images of the male and female form, Alun’s seemingly effortless portraiture, upon closer inspection offers a substance that requires a deeper appreciation and interpretation.
Angus Malcolm’s photography channels the classic genre of the nude male form. Working primarily in black and white, digital photography, his work focuses on the natural rather than the stylized. Often working with minimal equipment and assistance, his objective is to ultimately achieve this sense of almost ‘hyper-realism ‘and authenticity from his models. Angus stated recently, “My job is mainly to get the models to be themselves, and to be their total selves. I’ll spot a little something in a look or a way they move and think, that’s interesting – let’s see where we can go with that.” Based in London, Angus’s work has varied greatly over the years crossing into various fields such as writing and TV production. Photography he claims, came initially as merely another ‘creative outlet during a time of writers block,’ and has since evolved into his primary art form. A recent trip to Sydney inspired him to create a portfolio of the unique individuals that make up the city, the distinct summer light and the serenity of the harbour. Boys at Lumina (the name of the apartment building in Sydney’s Darlinghurst), has seen Angus return to his roots of this minimalist approach to photography. His approach to the genre is above all else, refreshing. Male erotica suffers badly from over stylization, over sexualisation and in turn looses much of its artistic integrity in the process. The fine line that now exists between porn and erotica is maintained mostly through the ability of the photographer to sustain the sense of naturalism that erotica is based upon. As pornography centres mostly on the concept of illusion and appealing to the fantasy of others, it becomes more a consumable product than an art form; something to be packaged and mass-produced, not admired or appreciated. Angus’s photography captures the natural beauty of his subjects without the need for interference. It is an adoration of everyday masculinity devoid of sexual narcissism.
Mike Chavez’s previous show, Ghetto
Superstar was a comment on contrasting notions of
beauty in First World and Third World cultures, so too is Live Fast, Die Young, remarking and deconstructing notions of the
cost of life.Chavez’s recent relocation
back to the Philippines has resulted in a body of work that explores various
concepts of youth, entertainment and death in the culture, again in comparison
to his life in suburban Melbourne.
In Live Fast, Die Young, there are
only two portraits. In one, a young Filipino boy holds a large beautiful
rooster, its colours are vibrant and it’s clearly in the prime of its life. The
second contains the image of two young boys, again one holding what appears to
be same rooster, however the other child holds a large, silver handgun. The
gun, clearly too large for the child to handle sits awkwardly against his body,
but the nonchalance in his expression suggests he isn’t phased at all by its
presence. The remaining images contain prints of roosters in various states of
combat; violent, ferocious and deathly. Cockfighting is after all a blood sport
in which animals at the peak of their health and youth are sent into instinctively
defend themselves to the death.
Despite its ancient, cultural origins, a large amount of countries have since
banned Cockfighting as a sport. It still however, retains a large amount of
popularity, and hence legality, in mostly developing nations and Third World
cultures; the Philippines being no exception.
The substance to Chavez’s commentary is strong, and poignant. In a culture
where most children will grow up never seeing, let alone touching a gun, we see
two young boys involved in a grotesque sport, gambling and fighting.
His Warholesque technique channels the artists’ ability to reproduce cultural
icons in a manner consistent with advertising methods. As Chavez’s pictures
likens the short, intense existence of the roosters and their violent deaths to
the children’s own lives, so too did Warhol’s ‘Death and Disaster,’ series
liken his own culture’s obsession with death to their obsession with celebrity.
Chavez’s work consistently infuses heavy political commentary with meticulous
artistic skill. Recently nominated “as one of the top 20
artists under 35 in Australia" by an independent panel of curators and
arts writers assembled by Art Melbourne 06, this exhibition is by far no
exception to his already significant repertoire of work.
Of all the time and emphasis that we expel in living on the internet, its an interesting conundrum that in metaphysical terms, its something that just simply, does not actually exist. As we become increasingly dependent on the continual advancement of technology, more and more we find ourselves deeply involved, and indebted to these realms that really are only given life by the pixels in our screens. Like music, the melody of the digital can, and will only ever be able to be expressed in abstraction. Båndbredde, literally ‘bandwith,’ in Danish, is Morten Lassen’s vision of how precisely this untouchable world would look.
The show is a complex exploration of various structural forms that finally gives representation to the previously unrepresentable; each work seeks to bring to life terms such as ‘high-frequency,‘ ‘Blue-Tooth,‘ and simply ‘Online.‘
The continual flow of similar forms across each work implies that they in fact could be apart of one large whole. As data has the ability to transfer itself across physical boarders of time and space, Lassen’s designs skip the margin that would usually separate each work on a wall, continuing on until their use is spent. The vibrancy of his pallet references the infinite possibilities one is privy too when connected to the internet; the humorous, the horrifying and the pleasurable are all blasted across each canvas at a speed incomprehensible to any human mind. Again like music, it is awkward that so much joy could come from something that so few can claim to fully understand.
Lassen’s work is in high demand across the globe. Having representation in New York, London, Sweeden, Copehagen and now Sydney, has seen his work reach a level of vast international appreciation. Crossing into sculpture and also works on paper, his abstract visions continually take on various forms, striving to achieve that manifestation of unfathomable concepts. Båndbredde ultimately is a journey into a world rarely ventured to by visual artists.
The title of Garth Knight’s recent group show at the Australian Centre for Photography couldn’t have summed up his aesthetic any better. “Sumptuary” was a dazzling, visual orgy of hedonistic luxury and opulent colour that included a glorious selection of Garth’s latest works, 'Bestiary '.
His manipulation of various images of jewelry and gemstones into intricate reproductions of a variety of creatures ranging from the infamous Death Moth, to Asiatic dragons and goldfish, contain an almost mythical or religious like imagery. When for example we see the archaeological relics of the Ancient Egyptians or Mayan civilizations, their worship of the creatures that exist around them result in their precious reproductions in gold, sapphire and so forth. Garth’s prints are this to a tee.The dark oblivion of their backdrop only compliments this fantastical nature as they float effortlessly in the space; swimming, flying, crawling.
Knight’s work is undeniably unique in the photo-media genre. As most artists are focusing on the manipulation of the figurative, Knight has chosen purely inanimate objects to create these glorious images that ironically enough exude movement and flexibility; the creases in the dragon’s leg muscles, the overlapping scales of the gold fish and the membranes of the butterflies wings are all given life through the careful placement of the objects that make up their image. Knights attention to detail couldn’t be more intense, as these flawless collages of priceless objects are morphed into dreamlike creatures that sparkle with life and fantasy.
Fogden seemingly achieves the impossibility of blurring the lines
between the painted image and the photograph. His latest body of work,
titled simply Bronte Pool, is an entirely ethereal exploration of the
delicate interaction between human’s and their natural environment.
Bronte pool is one of the last remaining ‘wave pools,’ in the Sydney
area and hence is a beautiful showcase of the ability of nature to
weather and mold the world in which we live. Locals flock to the spot to
swim in the seemingly unadulterated water; a far cry from the heated,
chlorinated and sterile pools of the various gyms and aquatic centers
around the city.
Fogden’s images frequently include these locals within the landscape
however their presence is dominated by the power and beauty of the
surrounding water. The shoreline and surf is something that Australian’s
are taught to not only respect but revere from an early age. The
ocean’s splendor is matched only by its danger and again the reverence
that is instilled in us, goes hand in hand with our submission to the
possibility of its destructive capabilities. The Bronte pool stands as a
small capsule of this tamed force of the ocean and allows those
willing, to experience it briefly and calmly.
For anyone who has fallen in love with the waters of the East coast,
nothing can ever replicate the beauty of that encounter. Wayne Fogden’s
photography however is possibly the closest one can get to encapsulating
Four exciting young emerging artists, on the ascent.
5 - 23 JULY 2011
In keeping with the gallery’s objective of showing only the most exceptional emerging artists working today, the gallery is thrilled to present ALLSTARZ, a showcase of young talent.
Each artist, currently in their own unique stage of growth and success, will complete this exciting coming together of work for the space’s second Winter exhibition.
Hugh Ford has shown with Iain Dawson Gallery on three occasions; each time expanding his already significant base of collectors. The innocence in the humor of Hugh’s work seems so effortlessly casual. His instantly recognizable characters and scenarios have resonated intimately with almost all who have the pleasure of experiencing them. A fascination with the classic graphics of a bygone era of animation both in print and film has lead to this refreshingly unique and playful aesthetic. With collectors across the country and a growing base of interest in Asia, the appeal of Hugh’s work is gaining significant momentum both regionally and internationally. Hugh has without a doubt, become one of the gallery’ most identifiable artists.
Only four months prior to the opening of this exhibition, the work of Lucas Grogan was first shown in Sydney by the gallery. The response was, and continues to be, nothing short of astounding. No stranger to controversy, the beauty, danger and fragility of the narrative within his works constantly invites closer and more intimate consideration. Grogan’s fascinating choice and complete mastering of such a unique medium has attracted much attention from collectors, least of which includes Art Bank. After securing a complete set of works from his first series with the gallery, ‘You’ve Been Out All Night Babe,’ Grogan’s work now sits within Art Bank’s illustrious collection of some of Australia’s most highly regarded contemporary artists.Grogan was also most recently exhibited at the Newcastle Regional Gallery and in a group show in Melbourne at John Butler gallery.
Accompanying Hugh Ford and Lucas Grogan in the show will be two of the gallery’s most promising up and coming artists Mike Niccol and Nathaniel Kiwi.
Kiwi’s art has all the trappings of what great Pop Art does; provides a façade of pleasantries with a significant underbelly of substance and serious questions. His brilliant technique and minimalist approach to composition infuses a glorious visual revelry with an at times quite serious societal commentary.
Similarly laden with significant social observations is the work of Mike Niccol. Niccol states of this particular collection of works, “We develop mechanisms for survival. We create a facade or thick skin in order to protect ourselves from harm. The way in which we interact with others can have a direct bearing on whether we succeed or fail. To fail is to be avoided at all cost. We spend our life in a perpetual state of fear.” Niccol’s ability to paint in such a hyper-realistic manner is at times beyond comprehension. Almost paradoxically however is the presence of this powerful figure, which in turn questions all the realism that surrounds it. Both Kiwi and Niccol are Sydney based and the gallery is thrilled to be a part of their growth as up and coming artists.
ALLSTARZ is a show that any lover of young, contemporary artists should not miss. It’s a rare glimpse into an unadulterated world of emerging visionaries.
The work of Chris Bellamy is an homage to a bygone era. A world where the pace of life was seeming slower, more attune to the flow of nature than to the flow of information. Seduced, as most are by the unique diversity of the Australian landscape, she glorifies the timelessness of nature, not the fleeting effects of urban life.
Inspired by her upbringing in the small town of Donnybrook, Western Australia, Bellamy is privy to the dazzling show that mother nature provides in that part of the country. Huge tracts of unadulterated, undeveloped, untouched pieces of land and shorelines that continue to breathe and function despite the chaos that grows within the world around them.
Mastering the oil medium, she creates a sublime vision of a place almost too surreal to first realise that the work is actually simply our world as it once was.
Rob Tucker is a young Auckland based painter exploring notions of Pop Art using studies of everyday culinary objects. 'The Pantry' is an exhibition that celebrates a slower pace of life, of mixing, blending and creating. Comparisons can be drawn between bringing a painting to life and the art of creating the perfect meal. Tucker's canvas' pulsate with life, colour and energy.
Anthony White is an Australian artist based in Paris, France. In this latest body of work, 'Scratching the Surface', which White created while on a residencey in Leipzig, Germany in early 2011, the artist explores notions of colour, tension between materials and the abstract concept of space and form. Inspiration comes both from the heritage of German expressive abstraction movement of the early 20th century, White's Australian background feeds into the choice of pallette, anchored by his present influence of the streetscapes of Paris.
Relying on a emotive response to his surroundings provides White with a veritable smorgasboard of material, the titles of the works hint at influences that inspire him to create, or comment on the world in which the artist finds himself inhabiting.
Anthony White is a graduate of the National Art School, Sydney and has exhibitied in 2011 in London and Hong Kong. This is his second solo exhibition with Iain Dawson Gallery.
This body of work explores concepts of beauty and desire in relation to the constructed images of marketing, branding and advertising.
Using the language of fashion and advertising: models, scale, layout and composition, these images are subverted to illuminate the contemporary melancholy and detachment that lie behind the glossy veneer of consumerism.
Advertising is used to target niche demographics. Its appeal lies in encouraging the individual to identify with or aspire to the products or services they consume. Advertising uses physically perfect and beautiful models to create this desire in the viewer. However the perceived status and acceptance that advertising purports to deliver is both illusive and transitory.
My work explores this advertising imagery, its promise of happiness and the illusion of "living the dream". As such the style of painting, the use of saturated colour and the scale of the works are important aspects of my practice. By way of example in the "Spring/Summer Series 2011" the models are present however their clothes are absent, a reversal of the traditional fashion imagery where the clothes and products to be sold are prominently featured. The models appear distant. pensive and lost in their own thoughts. Moreover I see the work as a celebration of a shared humanity; far greater than a demographic range or series of consumer choices.
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Using a symbolic vocabulary of animal masks, plants, flowers, and genie bottles, Kiwi has invented The Love Jungle, an exotic world of fertility, growth and transformation. Change and metamorphosis are recurring themes, celebrating the vitality of life’s natural cycles and reflecting several invigorating shifts in Kiwi’s personal life. Evocative botanical motifs speak overtly of procreation and fecundity while genie bottles become a totem for personal change, hopes and dreams. The masks are multipurpose: they’re fantastical antagonists who invite and challenge; the symbolic embodiment of our own animal instincts and qualities; the skins we’ve shed and those we’re yet to inhabit; but most simply, playful devices through which we might transform or transcend.
This body of work is about the fluid nature of contemporary identity. More specifically a snapshot of my personal experiences having been born in one country, grew up in another and in adulthood migrated to a third (Australia). This has encouraged me to explore the relationships between different forms of personal and group identity - mostly culture and sub-culture within the context of a consumer society.