Around the galleries – July 2009

July 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, July 18, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule

Lindeka Gloria Qampi

WHAT Transitions: Contemporary South African Photography
WHERE Alison Kelly Gallery, 1 Albert Street, Richmond, 9428 9019, alisonkellygallery.com

There are some definite standouts amongst this expansive survey of mainly post-apartheid South African photography. Curated by Anthea Fawcett and jammed into the relatively compact Alison Kelly Gallery, the most poignant works from Transitions tackle the flagrant disparities and contradictions of the modern South African city. Series by Greame Williams and young township photographers Lindeka Gloria Qampi and Mandla Mnyakama capture the collision between that nation’s contemporary visage and – in the case of its marginalised black communities – shantytown realities. Flashy fashion posters and advertisements adorn rotting boards and rusted tin. Elsewhere, David Southwood’s large-scale documentary photographs evocatively recontextualise the classic American road-trip in a South African setting. Tues to Sat 11am–5pm, until August 1

Tim Craker

WHAT Tim Craker: Take(n) Away
WHERE The Substation, 1 Market Street, Newport, 9391 2736, thesubstation.org.au

There’s an engaging sense of paradox to Tim Craker’s Take(n) Away, showing as part of a group exhibition at the spectacular old substation building in Newport. His mobile sculptural installation is decidedly planetary, comprising a series of hanging, variously scaled spheres that slowly rotate about the space with even the slightest off of breeze. His materials – hundreds of rectangular take away tubs – however, hold another set of connotations. But while the obvious reading is one of environmentalism, Craker’s work resonates on more of an aesthetic and spatial level. Take away containers aren’t often a thing of beauty. Wed to Thurs 10am–4pm, Fri noon–7pm, Sat–Sun 10am–4pm, until July 26.

WHAT Peter Lyssuotis and Theo Strasser: Eyewitness
WHERE Gallery Smith, 170–174 Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne, 9329 1860, gallerysmith.com.au

Working with words can be something of a trap for visual artists. While text can contribute a new layer of meaning to an otherwise figurative work, some artists tend to use it as an insurance policy; a kind of indemnity for their intended message. Peter Lyssiotis and Theo Strasser’s blood-spattered new exhibition employs text as one of its chief devices, repeating reductive newspaper headlines and imagery of war. But its use is a little more complex than it first seems. These confronting, large-scale canvases and prints invite that we decode their very messages and question their supposed truths. The show’s title, Eyewitness, is a calculated misnomer. Every account is suffocatingly subjective. Showing alongside new acrylic works by Robert Colvin. Thurs to Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 11am–4pm, until August 1.

WHAT Kate Just: A New Day in a Strange Land
WHERE Nellie Castan Gallery, level 1, 12 River Street, South Yarra, 9804 7366, nelliecastangallery.com

Having exhibited her infamous knitted sculptures for the best part of a decade, Kate Just’s first solo show at Nellie Castan Gallery sees the Melbourne-based artist dabbling in a palette different forms and materials. Her New Day in a Strange Land features various clay, epoxy, car paint and found object sculptures, an ambient soundtrack (courtesy of Erik Gorton) and a series of photo and paper collage works. This definitely comes across as experimental show from Just. Some of the works aren’t fully realised, though Just’s thematic thread – a kind of eco-feminism that investigates the comparison of women to flora and fauna in literature and mythology – is as strong as ever. A feminine hand extends into a scaly, fish-like body in the sculpture Nesting, whilst fishnet stockinged legs entwine a flower stem in the collage Spider Legged Lily. Tues to Sat noon–5pm, until July 25.

Giles Alexander

WHAT Giles Alexander: Smoke and Mirrors
WHERE Kristian Pithie Gallery, 27 Gipps Street, Richmond, 9428 2020, kristianpithiegallery.com

Giles Alexander’s exquisitely finished paintings of monolithic religious interiors work to subvert their very premise. Using monochromatic oils and high-gloss resin, the Sydney-based artist seems to be drawing us toward the architecture and engineering as a point of reverence, as opposed to the theological dogmas they supposedly denote. While the iconography is recognisably religious, it seems diluted. It is the vast, darkened spaces – the meticulously detailed architraves, arches, surfaces and stained glass – that dominate our attention. Alexander, it seems, is aware of his own role in all of this. While these stunning architectural vistas are transportive, their mirror-like resin surfaces remind us of their two-dimensionality. Ultimately, these are the works of an artist – not a builder, an architect, nor a grand architect. Tues to Sat 10:30am–5:30pm, until August 1.

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