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VENUE SPECIFIC PROJECT B L A C K blackartprojects ABN 19 223 523 412 +61 (0) 438 007 541


Anna Pappas Gallery 2-4 Carlton Street Prahran, Victoria 11 - 19 January, 2013

A pivotal part of his practice since 1993, John R Neeson’s 35th instalment of his Venue Specific Projects sees him respond to the interior architecture of Anna Pappas Gallery, representing the structural details of the space as well as the effect of light at various times of the day.

John R. Neeson lives and works in Melbourne, Australia - has a PhD from Monash University (Melbourne) and has completed post-graduate studies at The Royal College of Art, London. Neeson is a visual artist with a practice that includes venue specific installations and conventional exhibitions of representational works. Since 1993 he has completed thirty four venue specific installations of mimetic works in Australia and Internationally, and in addition he has held numerous solo shows and participated in major group exhibitions in Europe, UK, the Middle East and throughout Australia including Museum of Modern Art at Heide, RMIT University Gallery, Royal College of Art, World Fair, Seville, Australian Embassy, Paris, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Gasworks and ArtHouse, London, Fondazione Bevilaqua La Masa, Venice, Cite International Des Arts, Paris, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria, AC Institute (Direct Chapel) New York City. He has curated exhibitions including ‘Imaging the Apple’ auspiced by the University of Ballarat, Victoria, ‘Projects One - VCA’ VCA Gallery, University of

Melbourne and ‘Arrangement - Australian Still life 1973 - 1993’ at Museum of Modern Art, Heide, Melbourne. He has received numerous Grants and Awards including an American Australian Association Dame Joan Sutherland Grant , City of Melbourne Arts Project Grant, Australia Council - New Work Grant, Arts Academy, University of Ballarat, Research Grant - Royal College of Art, Project Funds, Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship Australian Post Graduate Research Award. Rather than painting directly from life, as the traditions of ‘still life’ and ‘landscape’ painting once entailed, Neeson uses mirrors to frame his chosen subjects, from which he paints - in situ - mimetic representations of fragments of both internal and external space. This technique stems from a self-conscious critique of the illusionistic nature of painting, which is further highlighted by his incorporation of bevelled edges in both the mirrors and his paintings - so the viewer is conscious that they are observing reflections rather than ‘real’ space (Raan, 2008). Neeson creates a veritable trompe l’oeil - the painting of an optical illusion although maintaining the integrity of the structural detail of the space.

Residencies at different art spaces produce work that are unique to each individual space. Although each painting, and mirror, reflect various spaces of production, his ouvre is held together by the strong influence of natural light on each of his works. Neeson deploys two other significant strategies that break with painting conventions and uphold his ‘white cube critique’. Firstly, his use of mirrors distinguishes his work from traditional painting genres; instead of painting directly from life, as ‘still life’, he paints mirrored reflections. Secondly, his installation method not only allows the viewer to move through the space, but, by exhibiting the mirrors with his paintings, he suggests a play with the double meaning of ‘reflection’ - as in seeing a mirror-image and the act of thinking. His installations thus become a phenomenological and visual experience of his work and the space, which in turn becomes speculative as the viewer navigates between what is viewed (the real), what is painted (the represented) and what is reflected (the virtual) (Raan, 2010).

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