Around the galleries – June 2009

July 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, June 13, 2009.

Around the galleries – Dan Rule

Sam Leach

Sam Leach

WHAT Sam Leach: The Margin
WHERE Nellie Castan Gallery, Level 1, 12 River Street, South Yarra, 9804 7366,

Sam Leach’s small-scale, resin-coated paintings offer a window into two previously distinct worlds. Merging his adherence to the 17th century Dutch still-life tradition with a kind of oblique geometrical futurism, his immaculately executed and finished works present a world where animals and space technology seem to coalesce. But while Leach’s beauteous fauna – monkeys and rare birds for the most part – seems strangely at one with its atypical setting, there is a violence to some of these works. A felled magpie reflects an angular, digitised likeness; a geometrical joey creeps from its otherwise normal mother kangaroo’s pouch. To this end, Leach’s work seems to function as a critique of technological progress. Humans themselves are conspicuously absent, but the evidence of their effect resonates. Tues–Sat: noon–5pm. Until June 27.

WHAT Dylan Martorell: Splintered Guilders
WHERE Lamington Drive, 89 George Street, Fitzroy, 8060 9745,

On first entering the compact surrounds of Lamington Drive, you could be forgiven for mistaking Dylan Martorell’s Splintered Guilders as a series of elaborately stacked, nonetheless messy piles of urban and organic waste. In some ways, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. The renowned local illustrator and installation artist’s sculptures or “sonic arcologies” – his own term for sound-producing, ecological architectures – comprise found objects, street junk and vegetable and plant matter that grows, changes and decomposes in the space, producing its own kind of osmotic art. Martorell will be manning the gallery on a daily basis to record the results with the help of the audience. His illustrations, whilst not directly part of the exhibition, are available for purchase. Tues–Fri: 11am–6pm, Sat: noon–5pm. Until June 20.

Dianne Jones

Dianne Jones

WHAT Dianne Jones, Hollywood Series
WHERE Niagara Galleries, 245 Punt Road, Richmond, 9429 3666,

Western Australian photo-media artist Dianne Jones re-casts herself as the subject of iconic, soft-lens Hollywood glamour shots in her latest series, exhibited as part of a group show including Belinda Fox, Helen Maudsley, Fiona Omeenyo and Helen Wright. Her works are both playful and loaded. Contesting dominant media representations of Australian Aborigines as a tragic news event, Jones re-imagines herself as an Indigenous Elvis, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and James Dean. While in the one sense we seem to be reliving Jones’ joyous childhood fantasies, in another we’re left perplexed by the cultural unfamiliarity of a glamorous Australian Aborigine and a little disturbed as to why. Tues: 11am–8pm, Wed–Sat: 11am–6pm. Until June 27.

Julie Rrap

Julie Rrap

WHAT Julie Rrap: Body Rub Series
WHERE Arc One Gallery, 45 Flinders Lane, city, 9650 0589,

Over a career that has spanned the best part of 30 years and made her one of the country’s most prominent contemporary artists, Julie Rrap’s manipulated representations of her own body have been pinned to anything from photo-media and performance art through to feminism. Showing alongside Guan Wei and Janet Laurence, Rrap’s Body Rub Series – which appeared as part of Body Double, a major survey of her work at the MCA in 2007 – comprises six large-scale altered photo-works, which depict her naked body in various kinetic motions. Included is a video of her process: Rrap sketches and paints over each photographs before rubbing the marking back with life-sized rubber head. Tues–Sat: 11am–5pm. Until June 27.

WHAT Brendan Lee: The Sentimental Blokes
WHERE Jenny Port Gallery, Level 1, 7 Albert Street, Richmond, 9429 6006,

In many ways, there’s nothing particularly new about Brendan Lee’s latest exploration of Australian identity. Themes of male larrikinism, battlers, Big-M’s and bumcracks have been done to death in one form or another. But while it treads a well-worn path, Lee’s series of photographs and video works delve a little deeper, drawing on the unspoken rules, conventions and social hierarchies of the construction industry and the Trade Union movement. With the gallery space punctuated by cyclone fencing and odd hard-hat, the show includes what the artist refers to as “primary, secondary and tertiary references to Australian culture”. His primary references – a striking series of photographs depicting crudely stickered and decorated worker’s helmets – are by far the most incisive, but unfortunately the least prominently displayed. Wed–Sat: 11–5pm. Until June 27.


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