Around the galleries – July 2009

August 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, July 25, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule


WHAT to whom it may concern: the written word in contemporary art
WHERE Karen Woodbury Gallery, 4 Albert Street, Richmond, 9421 2500,

Despite its contemporary prevalence, the use of text in visual art is, to many, still contentious. In something of risk for a commercial gallery, the latest show at Karen Woodbury deals exclusively in word and text-based work. It’s a striking introduction, from the stark canvases of Nell and Elizabeth Newman, to the hilarious, syncopated kitsch-jazz and video ‘e-poetry’ of Korean contemporary art superstars Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Locust Jones’ spectacular, five-metre-long graphite on paper rant Surge til the end makes for another highlight. While to whom it may concern might represent something overload for some, the trick, one might suggest, is to not fixate on the words. For most of us, art is experiential and this show is no different. These works aren’t just there to be read, but to be observed and experienced. Wed to Sat 11am–5pm, until August 1.

Josie Petrick Kemarre

WHAT Desert Divas: Contemporary Painting by Aboriginal Women.
WHERE Incinerator Arts Complex, 180 Holmes Road, Moonee Ponds, 8325 1750,

Its title may leave plenty to be desired, but Desert Divas presents an incisive overview of female Indigenous artists currently working in traditional styles and formats. While aesthetically striking on their own – especially the softened, gradual colour arrangements of Josie Petrick Kemarre and the minimalist, tonal sensibilities of Jeannie Petyarre – these highly-narrative works become all the more rich with some context. Themes of place and family history resonate. Walangkura Napanangka’s travel stories, Dorothy Robinson Napangardi’s salt lakes and Lily Kelly Napangati’s sand hills reveal a very different way of documenting space and time. Curated by Tracey McIrvine and Matt Matheou. Wed to Sun 11am–4pm, until August 2.

Tom O'Hern

WHAT Tom O’Hern: Bone Bed
WHERE Platform Artists Group Inc., Degraves Street Subway, city,

Tom O’Hern channels master Mexican engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada in Bone Bed, his new show at Platform. His highly detailed, playfully sinister ink-on-paper illustrations invoke the kind of imagery usually associated with Mexico’s El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). But O’Hern’s point of reference is much closer to home. Indeed, the skeletons, bones, used condoms and street debris that litter Bone Bed depict what lies beneath the very exhibition locale. Drawing on local legends and histories, O’Hern’s work proposes Melbourne as a site of struggle. In the Degraves subway, we’re offered cross-section of the city’s bloody remains. Daily 24 hours, until July 31.


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