Like a Wheel That Turns

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Like a Wheel That Turns

Things are always declared dead: rock and roll, God, novels, paintings. Still, there is no shortage of exhibitions devoted to painting. A captivating show that ambitiously reveals the impulses and philosophies of creators working with paints today.

Featuring eight emerging and mid-career artists at the Australian Center for Contemporary Art (ACCA), like a spinning wheel I enjoy the struggle of working within and without painting forms and norms. But at the same time, it also expresses a vast, contemporary social consciousness that explores themes such as identity, boredom, queer politics, ecology, spirituality, diaspora, and nation.

The work embodies the words of South African artist Marlene Dumas. Cycle and recycle time like a spinning wheel. ” It soon becomes clear that the exhibition is a series of different ideas about materials, history and time.

In the area of ​​color and play, one space is dominated by a mural-sized mural by Lucina Lane, surrounded by the words “A strangely sophisticated self-organized world.” A laissez-faire presentation, it reflects artmaking in a fun and paradoxical way. The paints are leftovers from his previous ACCA exhibition, the work references his 1949 painting by Australian modernist Frank Hinder, and the text refers to his DIY art in Melbourne from his scene dissatisfaction. Taken from George Egerton Warburton’s article on Stability and Resourcefulness. It alludes not to the underlying linearity of the exhibition, but to circularity, the concept of recycling materials and ideas to make them revelatory.

Nearby is a Jason Hu hoarding-style mini-house. It’s wonderful: childlike and wondrous. I looked in and laughed at the old and dozing Pooh, but there was something heartbreaking about this piece that made me stop. Inside and outside the house, precious, nostalgic and junky things pile up. In the back is a self-made toilet, a washing tub and a rag.

While it expresses a fear of empty space, perhaps a fear of loneliness, it is also reminiscent of the dream of a “cabin in the woods,” acknowledging a desire for solitude induced by exhaustion and as a refuge. Seeking nothingness. The artist likens it to both a home guard and a tomb.the title of the work Everyone is dead except me. Everything is in vain and I am tired.I’m waiting in my little house for winter to take me (2022).

Phu’s art is reflected in JD Reforma’s 85 paintings. fiber optics; virtue intranet (2022). On a canvas made of textured coconut shell, a fiber that epitomizes connectivity and wellness culture, the artist painted phrases from conversations, iPhone notes, pop culture, and social media. Embedded in geometric groups, red words are both everyday and provocative. “Power is a product”, “I want it quickly when I need it”, “There is no one size fits all”.

Reforma employs the poet’s art of contrasting words and phrases with careful visual construction that makes us think about money, class, power, race, inequality and injustice in the world of art. Repetition is funny, but these clichéd phrases chronicle cultural malaise.

Language is also important in Nadia Hernandez’s installations. The Venezuelan-born, Australian-based artist creates several structures in bold monochromatic colors. It’s like a three-dimensional deconstructed painting, but its political context references the Latin American diaspora, design and poetry. pays attention to her family heritage while intertwining with Venezuelan art.

Her text borrows words of her mother’s loving assurances. De Nuestra Felicidad, which means “we are the owners of our own happiness”. Hernandez playfully asks an urgent question. In an Australian context that has historically relied on simplistic ideas of national identity, how do you reveal your own wholeness and the cultural complexity of your art?

The idea of ​​circulation is alive in Jean Manique’s eight canvases. Artists ask questions by literally recreating traditions of painting, such as still lifes, landscapes, and self-portraits. The central work is a haunting, montage-like painting depicting soldiers performing erotic acts that subvert male ideals through queer eroticism.

While Manik demonstrates his technical ability by complicating the virtuosity and authenticity of the painting tradition, he also makes the work personal. My favorite work is his close-up of a horse’s eye, painted in the style of the Dutch masters. pain (2022). Not only does it acknowledge his legacy, but it also explores how Manik was ashamed of his fondness for horses as a child.

Jeanne Pasco-White’s A tangle of water embodied In (2022), a forest of painted materials hangs from the ceiling and is spread across the floor. Pasco-White works with materials such as plum skin, rocket, mold, moss, turmeric and coffee grounds. In this tangled materiality we add our own dirt by walking on the painting. Since the work cannot be seen as a whole, it can only be seen from the inside, neither the painting nor the viewer determines the space, they coexist.

Esther Stewart is Colored ladies series (2022), the four window awnings painted in bright colors and geometric patterns are a respite from the monotony dictated by corporate enterprise. Stewart has long legitimized domestic spaces and interior decoration with contemporary art. This time, we’ve placed a discreet awning in the cool monolith of ACCA. It makes us aware not only of the mundane of our everyday surroundings, but also of the exciting aesthetic possibilities.

Opposite these awnings is a large painting of Betty Muffler. Healing country (2022). A muffler in pulsating whites and muted grays His purple His tones represent the country from the perspective of the wala uruchukurpa (dreaming eagle) inherited from his father. She also captures the ancestral creation story of the emu her Jukurpa, the birthplace of Yalungu, south of Watrulu, South Australia, and her role as a famous Ngankali (traditional healer). The connection between mind, body, healing, and country is breathtaking.

For all the play and complexity of this exhibition, it seems to focus on one simple question: What are some of Australia’s most interesting artists doing with paint on and off canvas today? With funding from the MacFarlane Commission, ACCA has helped these artists provide ambitious answers.?

It’s a subjective choice, and at times it feels like there’s little thematic coherence. Painting emerges as a work of both deconstruction and restoration, finding its own expression in craft, emotional and cultural heritage.

A media crisis is not necessarily a bad thing. Artists should re-evaluate their forms. The current ‘dying’ form is perhaps theory-driven art, but we are still groping about the direction of painting today. It evokes writer Don DeLillo’s relaxed reaction to writing novels in the digital age. The same goes for painting.

like a spinning wheel Now showing at ACCA until September 4th.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 30, 2022 as “The life of paint”.

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