Unfinished Business brings together three significant contemporary artists based in the ACT region with a serious bone to pick – they’ve never exhibited at Canberra Contemporary Art Space. What is even more peculiar is that Peter Alwast, Rebecca Mayo and Nigel Lendon share generational overlaps in their practices. These overlaps are not necessarily literal, but instead relate to their formal aesthetics, attitude and their mode of interpreting the world around them.
Lendon’s slick minimalist forms, paired with Alwast’s vibrant mixed media collages perfectly offset the delicateness of Mayo’s earthy and ephemeral works. The exhibition also features a collaborative work produced by Lendon and Emma Beer, under their pseudonym LENDON/BEER.
While this group of artists may use formalism, the grid and the multiple as a means to investigate their own practices, they all imply a path forward and they all have unfinished business.
Image: Nigel Lendon Neither. Nor, 2018,13, eighteen cylindrical elements, each 900 x 50mm, each half 900 x 1415 x 50, powdercoated steel, installed in corner
One of the artists in BLAZE THIRTEEN described their participation as “a big deal”. It was always meant to be – an annual exhibition of emerging visual arts practice in the ACT and a ‘best of’ new artists from the previous year, in this instance 2018. Since 2006 when Leah Bullen, Karena Keys, Marina Nielson, Meg Roberts, Simon Scheuerle, Kate Smith and Charlie Sofo emerged onto the local and national art scenes BLAZE has produced a growing archive of artists with their eyes on the future. Thirteen years later many of these names will be familiar to audiences across the country for like the exhibition itself, they are the among the stayers. In many respects BLAZE is a difficult exhibition, with little to hold it together other than the idea that all artists are emerging at roughly the same time. Once confined to the CCAS Studio Residency Program, consisting largely, but not exclusively, of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Visual Arts graduates from the ANU School of Art and Design, in 2010 BLAZE spread its wings to take a more inclusive approach that focused on the artists exhibiting at venues such as Australian National Capital Artists, M16 Artspace, CCAS Manuka, Belconnen Art Centre and the odd Artist Run Initiative that popped up on the fringes of Canberra’s active visual arts community.
Looking back through some of the past catalogues for BLAZE I was fascinated by the variance in work and approaches to exhibitions as each year goes by. Each iteration has focused the community’s enthusiasm for artists who are warmly welcomed into what can be a recalcitrant society. BLAZE THIRTEEN is a perfect storm of evolving technical expertise and exciting new ideas born partly of innocence and the desire to make an enduring impression in the vast and competitive milieu of creativity that greets all graduates from the sheltered confines of art school. The question arises for all new artists; how does one make a mark amidst this amorphous mass of creative enterprise where technique alone will not suffice? Perhaps another factor that loosely binds the artists in exhibitions such as BLAZE, where the curators’ role is unusually distanced, is a sense of self. All five artists in BLAZE THIRTEEN, Dean Cross, Skye Jamieson, Alex Lundy, Shags and Joshua Sleeman-Taylor have invested something of themselves into their works. While this is not unusual in the arts, the ability to translate self-reflection into form can be the difference between making a lasting impression and none at all.
BLAZE THIRTEEN brings together five artists who have participated in exhibitions around Canberra (and some interstate) over the past year – in Contour 556, at CCAS Manuka, Tributary Projects, Canberra Grammar School, Belconnen Art Centre and Megalo Print Studio + Gallery. The work, however, is new: produced over Christmas and New Year (2018-19) to reach completion near the time of the opening. BLAZE THIRTEEN is straight off the drawing board if not created in the gallery itself, and driven by a curator’s predisposition to discover connections and links between artists and works I immediately attempted to produce a kind of gestalt that is perhaps futile and unnecessary. Against that grain, however, I note that four out of the five artists have emerged from the Print Media Workshop at the ANU School of Art and Design and one, Dean Cross, completed his Honours degree in the Sculpture Workshop. The works are overwhelming monochromatic with a small amount of blue; only Cross has added colour and it is economical. And then there are the personal distinctive identity issues that distinguish the works while the artists simultaneously attempt to avoid excess subjectivity.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by David BrokerImage: Alex Lundy Sequence (detail) 2019, Charcoal and soft pastel on paper, 228cm x 540cm
Image: Shags Threshold (S detail), 2019, digital glyph from the Alphabet for Modernity font, dimensions variable
The screen prints and video in NEWSCRAP record the artist’s obsession with collecting, and sometimes commenting on, political reportage from major newspapers in both Australia and the USA. Partly born from anger, sometimes from the confusion of dejá vu, but rarely from any sense of carefree mirth, Alison Alder highlights the absurdity of modern politics, and her fascination with print as a political act, as the presses roll day after day.
Image: Alison Alder Still from Newscrap 2018, HD video
The music of multi-instrumental sound artist ASUNA has reshaped multiple facets of the experimental music scene of Japan, from ambient and drone to improvisation. His landmark work 100 Keyboards is a site-specific listening experience in which one hundred cheap plastic keyboards play the same key, generating an undulating sonic harmony both mesmerising and mysterious. The crowd of sounds comes to take on its own kind of mass, while subtle acoustic variations emerge, hover and retreat.
Since the late 90s, ASUNA has created experimental sound works that vault genre divides, crossing from hip-hop to hardcore punk to freak folk noise and lo-fi pop. His performances might feature sound sources as diverse as popping candy, wind-up toys and kazoos, but the playfulness of his compositions belie the profound sensibilities of a true avant-garde artist.
Special Performance on Sunday 21 October 2018, 4pm
Tickets $10 at the door
Please note this is an unreserved standing-room only event.
For further details check out the Facebook event page.
CANBERRA CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE
Gorman Arts Centre
55 Ainslie Avenue Braddon 2612
The closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro paid tribute to lace makers and their importance in the complex cultural fabric of North Eastern Brazil. Singers dressed in pristine white lace and dancers robed in symbolic costume were absorbed by an expanding pattern of light that reflected the designs and significance of lace making to the economy and culture of the nation.
Labirinto, the title of Christus Nóbrega’s exhibition, refers to a technique of lace making traditionally practised by the women of his home state, Paraíba. The exhibition reflects both his heritage and the enduring role of cotton in an economy with roots in the 16th century. It is an exhibition that reveals the story of Ingá, a small town in the district of Chã dos Pereiras and the tragedy of Nóbrega’s widowed grandmother, who losing all financial support, was forced to relinquish her six children to the care of distant relatives and religious institutions. Her only means of survival was to make and sell the characteristic lace of an area whose culture is to some extent defined by the labyrinthine complexity and beauty of its crafts. Labirinto is the result of three years of research in which Nóbrega explored his ancestral homelands, gathering images and testimonials from artisans and relatives for a series of ‘banners’ that would incorporate poignant images from his family’s album. Positioned away from the gallery walls, Nóbrega’s emblematic works cast deep shadows that evoke the experience of discovering laces stretched in the narrow streets of the settlements of Chã dos Pereiras; drying under the intense sunlight of Brazil’s north east.
Professor Christus Nóbrega is an artist and lecturer at the University of Brasilia (UnB). He has a PH.D in Contemporary Art and is lecturer and coordinator for the Post Graduate courses at the Arts Institute of UnB. He has regularly participated in national and international exhibitions in spaces such as Bank of Brazil Cultural Centre, Rio Art Museum, Palace of the Arts, Belo Horizonte, Elefante Cultural Centre, Brasilia, Correios Cultural Centre, Rio de Janeiro, Santander Cultural, Porto Alegre, and FIESP Cultural Centre, Sao Paulo. His works can be found in public and private collections; The Cartier Foundation in Paris, Rio art Museum (MAR) and the Brasilia National Museum, the collection of Itamaraty and in the central Academy of fine Arts. He has also written several books and scientific articles on arts and education. Christus was nominated for the Pipa Prize, has received awards from the Cultural program Petrobas in 2004/2011 whilst also receiving an award in 2004 from the Museu da Casa Brasileira. In 2015 he represented Brazil in China through the Artistic Residency Program run by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His artwork was displayed at the Central Chinese University; Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Beijing.
Labirinto, Christus Nóbrega is supported by the Embassy of Brazil in Canberra
Choose Your Own Adventure
Don your safari suit and blast the Indiana Jones theme because this year’s CCAS members’ show wants you to embrace your inner-Irwin and choose your own adventure! We’re encouraging you to go off road, off the grid, off chops, off to bed or off on the path less traveled (but please come back with your artwork and submit it for the show).
Entries due: 5pm Friday 22 June 2018
Exhibition opens: 6pm Friday 29 June 2018
Entry form is HERE (PDF, 244KB)
Not a member? You can SIGN UP ONLINE
Throughout her exhibition Jess Higgins invokes the hybrid concept of the ‘Black Elephant’ – a cross between a ‘black swan’ (an improbable, unexpected event with devastating ramifications) and ‘the elephant in the room’ (a problem that is obvious to everyone and yet no one is interested in acknowledging it). The three works are a timely response to the ‘black elephant’ and designed to create discomfort in her audiences. Imagine oneself inside the belly of the beast, a black room that is itself the elephant and the works representative of waves of catastrophic events.
Jess Higgins The Known Knowns #1 (detail) 2018
Kate Stevens’ Drones Over Aleppo reflects her interest in how we process images of war from the domesticity of our homes today. As the title suggests, these paintings are ‘stills’ from drone footage surveying the systematic devastation created by airstrikes in which air forces including Syria, Australia, The United States and later Russia laid the city to waste. There are parallels with images of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb, and German cities such as Berlin and Dresden after World War Two. What Stevens is presenting is not new, however, her work is a chilling reminder that the annihilation of previous conflicts is scarcely a thing of the past.
Image: Kate Stevens East Aleppo 2:32 2018, oil on canvas, 100cm x 125cm
Janenne Eaton’s FENCES B/ORDERS WALLS – Keep Clear, presented at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, combines the original FENCES B/ORDERS WALLS (2016) installation, with a new section positioned at the heart of it. Similar to a road sign billboard, the text ‘KEEP CLEAR’ appears, a ‘split skull’ image takes up position between the two words. With its mirror-like quality, the sign presents the illusion of a potential rupture, a ‘space’, capturing the image of the audience as it merges with the work’s central narrative.
…every wall inspires its own subversion, either by infiltrators, who dare to go over, under or around them, or by artists who transform them.
Marcello di Cinto, Walls: Travels Along The Barricades, Soft Skull Press, 2013
Image: Janenne Eaton KEEP CLEAR, 2018, Acrylic on Hi Impact Styrene, wood, metal, 122cm x 530cm