Around the galleries – August 2009

September 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, A2, August 29, 2009.

Around the galleries Dan Rule

Groves_Above Sea Level, 2009_300DPI

WHAT Helga Groves: Microclimate
WHERE Sutton Gallery, 254 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9416 0727,

There’s an almost scientific proficiency to Helga Groves’ rendering of landscape, light and atmosphere. The unobtrusive oils, sculptural works and photographic installations that comprise new show Microclimate capture moments of atmospheric shift, falling light, deep dusk and their effects on our perception of place and landscape. Her Stratosphere series (above) depicts three variously cropped horizons in the throws of post-light, where Above sea level is made up of 32 atmospheric photographs taken from aeroplane windows, then presented encased in Perspex cylinders. But while referential – apparently several of the oils were painted from a series of photographs Groves took of skies and landscapes surrounding the area in which she grew up in Queensland – these works step beyond the realms of documentary. Rather, the recognisable details of place are abstracted and swallowed in the dusk. The daily cycle of light and its specificity to particularities of environment becomes the focus. A constant is condensed into a series of solitary, beautiful and somehow affecting moments. Tues to Sat 11am–5pm, until September 12.

Holy F---ing Ghost

WHAT Rik Lee: One Last Late Night
WHERE Lamington Drive, 89 George Street, Fitzroy, 8060 9745,

Rik Lee’s stunningly executed pencil and ink illustrations are like a cocktail of tired-eyed whimsies. His layered compositions (above) splay out in an almost floral form, a concoction of animals, beautiful people and ink splatters counterbalancing evocative snippets of text, film references and classically Californian ephemera. But while it would be easy enough to frame Lee’s exquisitely rendered scenes in terms of pure fantasy, it would also be reductive. There’s a real resoluteness to these works, an unwillingness to accept or cower beneath the machinations of the banal. This is about hope and potentiality. In Lee’s world, true love, broken hearts, death, a sweet new pair of trainers or a mint-condition Chevy Impala might be just around the corner. You’ve got to stay away from the nine to five, and keep your eyes on the prize. Wed to Fri 11am–6pm, Sat noon–5pm. Until September 12.


WHAT Carl Scrase: Symmetrical Spirit Guides and Fractal Alchemy
WHERE John Buckley Gallery, 8 Albert Street, Richmond, 9428 8554,

Spending too much time with the catalogue essay for Symmetrical Sprit Guides and Fractal Alchemy would have you believe Carl Scrase to be some kind of modern-day shaman; a mystic searching for the great truths in hoards of old magazines and stationary. This may or may not be completely accurate, but it does hold some resonance within the young Melbourne artists’ intricate sculptural and paper-collage works (above). Scrase creates a kind of perfect paradox here. Taken as a whole, his sculptural arrangements are fluid and organic in shape and gesture, yet the individual components from which they are built – hundreds upon hundreds of fastidiously affixed bulldog clips – are anything but. His collages, meanwhile, recast fragments of found magazine images into neatly psychedelic, nonetheless striking kaleidoscopic stills. In this context, the whole mystic, spiritual angle doesn’t seem quite so farfetched. These works find meaning and beauty the blandest of consumables and contemporary life-stuffs. Wed to Sat 11am–5pm, until September 5.


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