Art Enquirer 2019

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Cover image: Catherine Parker, Present portal (detail), 2017, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 120cm, QUT Art Museum Collection. Photography: Carl Warner.

Art Enquirer ISSUE NO.3


The Institute of Modern Art (IMA) and Flying Arts Alliance (FAA) is immensely proud to present the third edition of the Art Enquirer publication. In July, nine high school students from regional and metropolitan Queensland visited the IMA and FAA for a three-day intensive where they immersed themselves in the world of contemporary art. Visiting art galleries and artist studios and guided by expert mentors, students explored ways of critically engaging with contemporary art: from viewing to writing about individual artworks and curated exhibitions. Students experienced a diverse range of art practices, galleries and museums. Beginning with a gallery crawl through the Fortitude Valley gallery district, the group experienced some of the leading commercial galleries the city has to offer. Excursions were made to galleries further afield with trips to the Metro Arts gallery and QUT Art Museum for curator-led tours. Students also ventured to the Milani Gallery artist studio complex for a private tour with the gallery’s manager Amy-Clare McCarthy, where eager listeners heard from leading Brisbane-based artist Vernon Ah Kee who shared his drawing practice, and gave sage words of wisdom on pursuing a career in the arts. They also caught behind-the-scenes glimpses of the artistic processes of artists Dale Harding, Sandra Selig, Gordon Hookey, and Richard Bell. Back at the IMA, students saw the exhibitions Certain Situations by Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo and The Country Within by Mandy Quadrio at IMA Belltower. These visits were punctuated with in-depth sessions on visual analysis, career pathways in the arts, and how to write about art, exploring new ways of understanding and writing about the broad range of practices the students saw. The week wasn’t all work and no play—students built lasting friendships while participating in the IMA’s First Thursday’s performance program Femioke, a night of feminist-inspired karaoke hosted by Amy-Clare McCarthy, and performed impromptu hotel art critique sessions using their newly acquired art criticism skills. After students went home they worked assiduously on their essays, drafting their work and developing them through an editing process We couldn’t be more proud of their outcomes. We thank Brian Tucker for his generosity in supporting student travel bursaries, as well as Brisbane Airport Corporation for assisting in enabling this third edition of Art Enquirer. We extend our gratitude to Jan Murphy Gallery, Philip Bacon Galleries, Edwina Corlette Gallery, Mitchell Fine Art, Metro Arts, QUT Art Museum, and Milani Gallery, as well as the many artists and arts workers who contributed to the program for their generosity in sharing contemporary art with the next generation. Institute of Modern Art and Flying Arts Alliance, 2019

07 A Fresh Look Into the Female Psyche Cheyenne Walstyn 11 Catherine Parker: A Sensory Trifecta Stella Eaton 16 Making His Mark: Dean Cross Confronts White Face Media Archie Miller

21 Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo’s Certain Situations: A Conceptual Mosaic Joe Botica 27 Uncapturable Moments, Childhood Nostalgia, and a Journey of Queerness Hannah Varidel 33 Robert Malherbe: Painting Intimacy Holly Hone



Cheyenne Walstyn St. Andrew’s Anglican College


A Fresh Look Into the Female Psyche



Abbey McCulloch, Uprising, 2019, oil on canvas, 101 x 101 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Edwina Corlette Gallery.

A Fresh Look Into the Female Psyche

Exploring emotion through depictions of the body is common in both historical and contemporary art. New Zealand born, Australian-based artist Abbey McCulloch employs juxtaposition and contradiction to create stunning examinations of emotion and the female psyche through the body. One of her latest works, Uprising (2019), displayed at Edwina Corlette Gallery, is exemplary of this. McCulloch’s work is painted in subdued pastels with the occasional burst of highly saturated colour. She mostly depicts women with unusually proportioned faces, using rhythmic brushstrokes to create works that vibrate with energy. Juxtaposition is important to the artist, as is exploring the value and beauty found in imperfections. In her practice, McCulloch explores societal norms by drawing on her own experiences, the experiences of other women in her life, and that of strangers she observes. In this way, McCulloch’s work can be seen as an exploration of the contemporary woman. Describing her process in a studio tour video produced by Edwina Corlette Gallery, the artist says her paintings usually start with found images. For example, when creating Deeper (2015) she was drawn to a photo of a woman in a magazine submerged in water. McCulloch notes, 9

“[the] sense of unknowing whether she’d given up completely or whether she had given in to some kind of spontaneous whim…[I] didn't really know whether it was terrifying or liberating, but that image really stuck with me.” 1 This ambiguous combination of emotions is something McCulloch appears to explore often and is resonant in Uprising. The colour of the work is likely the first thing the viewer notices: lime green arms, a light blue torso, and a delicate white gradient contrasts with warm coloured and hurried brushstrokes depicting an intense expression of alarm on the woman’s face. The subject appears to hover slightly off the pastel pink background. A feminine and child-like energy radiates immediately from the piece. The woman seems to float away, if not for the steel grey—almost black—of her eyes (the darkest point of the canvas) cleverly pinning her in place. The combination of the energetic blues and greens with her determined dark eyes creates a dynamic contrast further emphasised by the gentle pastel background. The colours in Uprising are triumphant, performing fittingly with the open mouth, as if the



woman is mid-scream. The contrasting slate of her eyes matches their expression: confident, still, and resolved, at odds with the extreme emotion of her scream as well as her loose body. McCulloch portrays ecstasy, determination, and nonchalant calm, demonstrating the variability of the female psyche and identity.2 The artist’s linework is particularly interesting and attention-grabbing. As well as utilising contrasting colours, she also employs contrasting shapes, lines, and textures. The details of the figure's face and the gentle gradient of the body are outlined with strong, stable lines, reminiscent of illustration and accentuating the dynamic energy of the work. Immediately the gaze is drawn towards the intricate and gestural detailing of the face, with the lack of detail in the rest of the work drawing further attention to this. This contrast is further heightened with the flow of the body, starting at the hands gently hanging down, smoothly following the contour of the body, only to reach a sudden stop at the end of the torso. With a focus on women and female identity, McCulloch undertakes a fascinating exploration of the female figure. The depiction of the female figure in art is a loaded motif, as sexuality is seen as intrinsically tied to women’s bodies. Portrayals of women were (and arguably still are), through the lens of the male gaze.3 As noted by art critic John Berger, “Men act, and women appear…From early childhood, she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually…Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another”.4 McCulloch’s work directly challenges this idea, through a powerful and active physical presentation of emotion and a look into the subconscious. With the lack of linework on the breasts of the subject (with the absence more pronounced due to the smooth thick outline around the rest of the body), she is harder to objectify, distancing her as a sexual object.

The pronounced detailing nonetheless ties her to her body—her identity is still unmistakably moulded by being female. The bright colours and expressive face present femaleness as a cause for celebration and something to be enjoyed. In the work, the female body is not performative, but a vessel for emotion. In Uprising McCulloch has successfully created an elegant work with plenty of fun: a jubilant expression of emotion and a captivating exploration of identity.

Edwina Corlette Gallery, "In The Studio: Abbey McCulloch", 2015, video, in-the-studio-abbey-mcculloch. 2 Jacqueline Houghton, 2008. "Abbey McCulloch: The Sting", Shubert Contemporary, http://www.schubertcontemporary. 3 Norma Broude & Mary Garrard, Expanding the discourse: Feminism and Art History. (Boulder, CO, Oxford: Westview Press, 1982), 5. 4 John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin Books, 1972), 46. 1

Catherine Parker: A Sensory Trifecta

Stella Eaton Indooroopilly State High School


Catherine Parker: A Sensory Trifecta



Catherine Parker, Present portal, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 120cm, QUT Art Museum Collection. Photography: Carl Warner.

Catherine Parker: A Sensory Trifecta

Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see. —Vincent van Gogh.1

Present portal is the artist’s tribute to the natural world, inspired by her personal connection to it.³ Although first appearing abstract, the work abounds with symbolic representations of nature. With a background composed largely of swirling greens and blues, the landforms that emerge from this murky backdrop are starkly bright in comparison. Around the slightly off-centre focal point—a brilliant white portal reflected in a water source—small but significant details of hazy landforms emerge from the dense background; lakes, tree stumps, and mountains. It creates a landscape


Throughout the history of art nature has been a continuous source of inspiration, provoking generations of artists to study and learn from it. Catherine Parker’s work is a twist on this classical tradition, with an extensive practice based on the investigation of natural life from a spiritual perspective. The artist’s work Present portal (2017) is included in the QUT Art Museum exhibition Vis-ability (2019), a showcase of the Queensland University of Technology’s art collection that endeavours to be accessible to visually impaired communities through interdisciplinary collaboration. Parker’s painting practice is deeply associated with the metaphysical, intertwining the beliefs of Australian and Indian cultures to render nature as multi-dimensional and transient.² In the exhibition, Parker’s painting has been translated into soundscape and tactile forms, creating an immersive spiritual atmosphere that provokes audiences to ponder humanity’s reliance on nature as well as our vulnerability to it.


of co-existing, cavernous spaces. While there are points of overwhelming light and wonderment within this scene, shadows lurk behind every light source. Within Parker’s practice, nature is a frequent stimulus, as the artist feels a great commitment to environmental conservation.4 This connection is clear in this work, with Parker’s personal belief in multiple versions of reality evident through the numerous, interconnected environments.5 This relationship to metaphysical space is expressed with every shadow balanced equally with beacons of pure, unfiltered light.

In creating portals of light, Parker offers hope from the untameable, an escape from colliding ecosystems in which people are defenceless against the 14

forces from which they were produced. Within the context of Vis-ability, Parker has collaborated with blind audio technician Aymeric Vildieu to create an immersive sonic atmosphere, reflective of the concepts within the painting. Vildieu skilfully explores the intricacies of the original visual piece through layered sound intended to establish an emotional journey—an auditory poem of sorts.6 Listening to the sound work is a transitory experience; ebbing and flowing waves of sound making way for sudden crescendos and gentler melodies. These souds reflect environments, both natural and cultural, from Australia, Tibet, and India.7 Vildieu’s soundscape guides audiences from a prayer ceremony through a forest, complete with rustling leaves and birdcalls, to a harsh, crashing sea and shooting geysers, ending with horns and prayer bells, emphasising Present portal’s multi-dimensionality. 8 This soundscape is arguably indivisible from Parker’s original piece. Bridging gaps of visual interpretation, Vildieu’s soundscape elicits a blend of calmness and turbulence, punctured by the sound of bells and a horn. Intended for contemplation, the artist's soundscape invokes mindfulness through nature, undercut by spikes of unrest, creating the feeling of being completely at the mercy of one’s surroundings.

Catherine Parker: A Sensory Trifecta

sustain an immersive atmosphere of tranquillity underscored by shades of tension. Catherine Parker’s Present portal, along with its collaborative interpretations emphasise an overwhelming sense of unrest in a seemingly peaceful landscape. Through painting, sound, and tactile format Parker and her collaborators explore the notion of coexisting realities and the artist’s own relationship to place. Taken together, the trilogy of works presented in the gallery serve as a reminder of vulnerability yet offer a sense of hope. Despite the darkness found in the work, the audience controls how they interpret it, reflecting their perception of the world around them and their emphasis on sources of light or the shadows that pursue them.


Van Gogh, Vincent van Gogh to Theo Van Gogh. London, January

1874. Letter. Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b13 V/1962, http:// Catherine Parker, “Curriculum Vitae”,


catherineparker/cv 3

Art Almanac, “Catherine Parker: It’s (still) a

Beautiful World”, 2015, catherine-parker-its-still-a-beautiful-world/ 4

QUT Art Museum, “Vis-ability: Artwork from the QUT Art

Collection exhibition wall text”, 2019, downloads/2019/Vis-ability_wall_text.pdf 5

Katherine Dionysius & Janice Rieger, “Vis-ability: Artworks from the

QUT Art Collection”, QUT, 2019, downloads/2019/Vis-ability_catalogue_text.pdf 6 7

QUT Art Museum, “Vis-ability”, 2019.

Dionysius & Rieger, “Vis-ability”, QUT, 2019.


QUT Art Museum, “Vis-ability", 2019.


Dionysius & Rieger, “Vis-ability", 2019.


QUT Art Museum, “Vis-ability”, 2019.


Present portal has also been translated to into a tactile format to share details and concepts of the painting with both sighted and sightimpaired visitors. In a collaboration with groups of experts who are blind or have low vision, QUT design students, and professionals, several prototypes of tactile models that expressed the visual elements of the painting were made.9 The final product was printed in threedimensional form and positioned close to the painting, inviting visitors to interact with the object in the gallery space. Parker’s brilliant white portals, for example, became holes in the model. Where mountains were before only visually implied, their ridges are now physically felt, the smooth base banked by ridges of land forming the glossy lake bordered by crystals, figures and tree stump. Although touch is not typically encouraged in gallery settings, in this case, a physical examination of the model reveals distinctly contrasting surfaces, facilitating a comprehension of the painting’s emotional connotations through touch.10 This component of the installation completes a sensory trifecta to



Making His Mark: Dean Cross Confronts White Face Media Archie Miller Marist College Ashgrove



PolyAustralis #19 Cate Blanchett, 2016; PolyAustralis #29 Rolf Harris, 2016. QUT Art Collection.



Originally a dancer, a major spinal injury as well as a need for varied creative outlets acted as catalysts for First Nations artist Dean Cross to begin his art practice. His work aims to re-evaluate and reconstruct what it means to be Australian in the 21st century. In his work PolyAustralis (2016), Cross attempts to "rebalance the social scales and more accurately represent the changing face of Australian identity" through the use of mark making on various images of famous Australians.1

Cross was browsing through his local Vinnies in Dulwich Hill when he came across a photobook by Polly Borland, titled Australians. As Cross stated in an interview with The Wire, “…the title Australians seemed pretty audacious, a pretty wild claim to make, I had a quick look and of course everybody (except one) is white.”2 It was this realisation that inspired Cross to confront the underrepresentation of Indigenous Australians within Australian media.3 In Vis-ability there are four works from Cross's PolyAustralis series, drawing on excerpts from Polly Borland’s photo series Australians. Each piece consists of both an image and a piece of writing that has been taken from the book. Large portions of the images have been blacked out with a Sharpie marker, yet the faces are always left untouched, giving viewers the impression of a floating head. To the left of the images, the original sections of text have been crossed out by black repeated lines of varying widths, lengths, and orientations. The entire PolyAustralis series consists of 52 individual works that Cross explains took him weeks to mark. It was in these long weeks however, that he was able to think more closely about the people within Borland's photographs. He explained that this helped him to understand them, as well as how and why they were being celebrated, allowing him to further refine his works.4 In a nation where so many claim that colour is invisible, Cross forces viewers to confront the opposite. With the inclusion of a black pane across the page, blacking out everything apart from the face in the photograph, the focus of the work becomes painstakingly obvious—all of the people within the



PolyAustralis #16 Nick Cave, 2016; PolyAustralis #26 Sir Les Patterson, 2016. QUT Art Collection.



images are white. The black marks that break up the images remove any depth that was present in the original photographs and forces viewers to look at the images differently. They are a nod to a rich history of Aboriginal mark-making, specifically traditional Papunya art, as well as the tradition of graffitiing bathroom stalls, which dates back to Ancient Rome as a way for people to receive an audience for their poetry.5 Cross states that this is his own interpretation of these different traditions.6 Next to each of the images is an excerpt from the book containing biographical information about each of the people photographed. These, just like the images, have been drawn over, rendering the writing unintelligible.7 Cross emphasises that the structure of each individual line holds no meaning and no thought, rather, they are more an expression of Cross’s emotion, and the frustration he feels towards Australian society and its widespread racism. As Cross stated, “I think to think can be problematic in making art.”8

Dean Cross created PolyAustralis in the hope of confronting white Australia’s views of what it means to be Australian, provoking viewers to think about their role in allowing Indigenous peoples to go under-represented for so long. Through the use of mark making, with a reference back to this continent's rich cultural history, Cross puts viewers in a position where they are forced to finally acknowledge colour and question what it is to be Australian today.


Dean Cross, "PolyAustralis." Last modified 2016. https://www. The Wire, "Poly-Australis: Reimagining Papunya


Mark-making and Issues of Blackface." Last modified October 19, 2017. poly-australis-reimagining-papunya-mark-making-issues-blackface/. 3

life and who largely made their home or based their professional life in the UK. 4

Michael Cathcart & Sarah Kanowski, 16 October, 2017. “ABC Radio:

Books and Arts”. Podcast audio. Tarnanthi: White Australians redrawn in 'PolyAustralis'. ABC Media. programs/booksandarts/tarnanthi:-dean-cross/9047578 5

Julie Beck, "Behind the Writing on the Stalls." The Atlantic. Last

modified November 21, 2014. archive/2014/11/behind-the-writing-on-the-stalls/383016/. 6 7

The four works displayed as part of the exhibition Vis-ability, at QUT Art Museum, were PolyAustralis #26 Sir Les Patterson, PolyAustralis #29 Rolf Harris, PolyAustralis #19 Cate Blanchett, and PolyAustralis #16 Nick Cave. All of the individuals depicted in the artworks are famous performers, commenting on the visibility of whiteness in Australian society and media. Only five percent of our leaders are of non-European descent and minorities are rarely included in discussions outside of immigration, terrorism, and crime.9 This lack of diversity not only provides an extremely narrow view on minority populations, but also results in the further marginalisation of people of colour, possibly resulting in policies that disregard a large portion of the Australian population. Cross is creating conversation in order to accelerate change, highlighting the lack of diversity among our most recognisable performers.

'Polly Borland: Australians' was a 2001 exhibition and book of

portraits of significant Australians who made a contribution to British

Cathcart & Kanowski. “ABC Radio: Books and Arts”.

The Wire, "Poly-Australis".


Cathcart & Kanowski, “ABC Radio: Books and Arts”.


Damien Cave, "In a Proudly Diverse Australia, White People Still

Run Almost Everything." The New York Times. Last modified April 11, 2018.

Joe Botica Kelvin Grove State College


Agatha GotheSnape and Wrong Solo’s Certain Situations: A Conceptual Mosaic


Walking into Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo’s Certain Situations, I am greeted by two serious looking screens on stands, displaying text in a stern, black and white format. A blurred projection hovers in the top left corner behind them. A large line drawing of an open gate is painted on the wall to my right. As I look around the space, I imagine that if GotheSnape’s brain was a room, it would probably look something like this. I am instantly intrigued by the way in which the works boldly defy categorization. Staged across four galleries of the Institute of Modern Art, Agatha GotheSnape and Wrong Solo’s Certain Situations is truly a fascinating exhibition. Working across a range of mediums including improvisational performance, text, and PowerPoint presentation, Gothe-Snape is concerned with ideas larger than their sensory embodiments. In an interview with Art Guide Australia, the artist explains:


“I am interested in situations where the art historical, psychological, social, and physical worlds collide, and there is a thickness in these situations.” 1. Inevitably, Gothe-Snape’s fascination with merging ideas2 is expressed commonly through collaboration, as seen both in the work of Wrong Solo— Gothe-Snape’s ongoing collaboration with writer and performer Brian Fuata— and a range of other international and domestic group projects3. The broad concepts explored within Certain Situations provide a strong foundation for a range of stimulating physical manifestations, each working together to allow a departure from the physical world to a more fluid state of thinking. PowerPoint presentations are an essential component of Certain Situations and are used repeatedly throughout the exhibition. A computer program conventionally used for communication in educational or workplace environments, PowerPoint is artfully repurposed in Certain Situations to be a symbolic tool of conceptual translation. This choice of medium may at first seem like a sacrifice of aesthetic, but upon deeper inspection it can be seen that the efficiency and directness of the program creates space for a unique, captivating visual style. Certain Situations begins its metaphysical journey with fragments of collected and created information, presented in the first room of the exhibition. In Interior Dialogue for PowerPoint (2019), Gothe-Snape presents a looped PowerPoint presentation, played on two screens out of synch. The work is comprised of fragmented quotes and phrases, either overheard or created by Gothe-Snape without particular order or relation. The lack of synchronisation between the two screens creates an interesting dialogue forged by pure chance, and viewers will find themselves stumbling across combinations of phrases which, when combined, have a completely separate meaning. By purposefully


In view: Agatha Gothe-Snape, Woman Asleep Under A Tree, 2019, looped video, edited by Kuba Dorabialski; Agatha Gothe-Snape, Interior Dialogue for PowerPoint, 2019, looped PowerPoint for two monitors ; Agatha Gothe-Snape, Agnes’ Gate, 2019, wall painting. Installation view: Certain Situations, Institute of Modern Art. Photograph: Carl Warner.

neglecting to restrict the mechanics of time in this work, Gothe-Snape explores the idea of chance, and whether it can be used as a tool to create significant connections from seemingly insignificant and unrelated ideas and thoughts. Situated behind Interior Dialogue for PowerPoint, Woman Asleep Under a Tree (2019) is an altered projection of Odilion Redon’s painting with the similar title, Woman Sleeping Under a Tree (1900-01). Redon’s painting explores dream states and mental departures, a theme which seamlessly integrates with the exhibition's interest in the human psyche. Here, GotheSnape uses PowerPoint as a medium to blur Redon’s painting in a pulsating manner, alluding to the way in which distant memories appear and retreat fluidly4. This form of abstraction and reassembly is intentional and artificial, providing an interesting contrast to the unharnessed, organic nature of Interior Dialogue for PowerPoint.

In the second gallery space, Gothe-Snape presents an even more conceptually heavy group of works. Five Calls (2019) is a large, bright green sculpture that stands grandly in the middle of the room, satisfyingly contrasted against the bright red rectangle of Untitled_16:9.pptx (2019), filling the wall behind it. Formed from a single sheet of thick steel, Five Calls is bent and twisted into curves and edges, forming a seat to sit on facing the back right corner of the room. GotheSnape’s choice of colour alludes to that of a green screen, contrasting the sculpture’s heavy material form with the idea of effortless digital removal. A set of wireless headphones lies on the green seat, inviting viewers to sit and listen. From the headphones comes the binaural sound work The Five Unknowables (Dialogue Version) (2019), a recording of Wrong Solo’s performance which took place earlier in the space in front of the seated viewer. The realistic intimacy of the recording blurs the lines between real life and documentation, once again speaking



Agatha Gothe-Snape, Untitled_16:9.pptx, 2019, instructions for a wall painting of a PowerPoint Projection scaled to a gallery wall; Agatha Gothe-Snape, The Five Calls, 2019, painted steel; Agatha Gothe-Snape, I–V Reclining, 2019, adhesive vinyl, adapted from The Five Unknowables, originally exhibited at The Tarrawarra Biennial of Art 2018. Installation view: Certain Situations, Institute of Modern Art. Photo: Carl Warner.

Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo’s Certain Situations:




Wrong Solo (Brian Fuata and Agatha Gothe-Snape) with Sonya Holowell, Ruark Lewis, Sarah Rodigari, Brooke Stamp, and Lizzie Thomson, Five Columns, 2019, 5-channel video, 10 mins, correspondence, scores, wall, carpet. Photo: Carl Warner.

to Gothe-Snape’s practice of reassembly in a way that is surreal and thought-provoking. Five Columns (2019), a five-channel video installation, is found in the largest gallery. In this work, Wrong Solo are joined by Brooke Stamp, Lizzie Thompson, Sarah Rodigari, Sonya Holowell and Ruark Lewis, undertaking five performances on five consecutive days, strictly from 4:00pm to 4:10pm. Beginning with each screen presenting a day of the week written against a bright colour, Five Columns explores the situations which can become apparent from the ever-changing circumstances which accompany them. The combination of five creatives and the natural change of conditions between performances contrasts against the consistent time of day in a manner reminiscent of a science experiment. Five Columns is a more complex continuation of the exhibition’s purposeful collision of practices and ideas, marking the climax of the exhibition.

In Certain Situations, Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo conjure an abstract, intellectual space. Facilitating unconventional practices in unfamiliar ways, the exhibition is refreshing and overflowing with ideas. The use of PowerPoint is at first strange and slightly intimidating, but it eventually settles into a strong medium for effective, direct communication. Certain Situations is not an exhibition which is easily absorbed in one visit; its abstract ideas reveal themselves slowly and their broad scope makes way for a diversity of viewer experiences.

1. Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo, Certain Situations curated by Madeleine King (Brisbane: Institute of Modern Art, 2019). Exhibition Guide. 2. Tai Mitsuji, “Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo: Certain Situations”, Art Guide, (2019), agatha-gothe-snape-and-wrong-solo-certain-situations 3. The Commercial Gallery, “Agatha Gothe-Snape” The commercial Gallery, agatha-gothe-snape/biography 4. Tara McDowell, “Agatha Gothe-Snape and Wrong Solo’s “Certain Situations”, Art Agenda, (2019), agatha-gothe-snape-and-wrong-solo-s-certain-situations

Hannah Varidel St Anthony's Catholic College


Uncapturable Moments, Childhood Nostalgia, and a Journey of Queerness



A glint of metal. Water stained concrete. The scent of chlorine. Alex Pyren’s inexplicable capacity for capturing childhood nostalgia, shared memories, and queer experiences leads to an immersive connection between the artist and audience in The Boy Diver. Pyren seeks to display a distorted reality between past and present, expressing their own personal experiences through a collection of four sculptural pieces: Looking Out, Looking In (2019); In/ Out of Reach (2019); The Bottom of The Basin (2019); and Facing The Sun (2019). Past the clear visual nudges to a public pool setting, the disconnected pieces of Pyren’s memories embedded in the four artworks seek to replicate the disjointedness of memory. The exhibition asks the viewer to feel as Pyren once had, in an exercise that elicits childhood memories, euphoria, and unadulterated excitement. The exhibition centres around an event that occurred on Pyren’s 10th birthday (1999) at the Temora public pool in his hometown, where they dived for a coin at the base of the pool. The moment, depicted as seemingly infinite, is ultimately summarised in The Boy Diver through complex symbolism and the manipulation of materials. Pyren also sought to convey the idea of ‘Line of Flight’, proposed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari; the concept of crossing a threshold. It reflects on the idea of capitalising on a moment where a massive change or shift occurs. It is a term meant to represent and perceive the gender spectrum as a fluid and ever-changing landscape, separate from a defined binary.1 Pyren captures ‘Line of Flight’, and many more complex ideas in The Boy Diver.

Uncapturable Moments, Childhood Nostalgia, AND A JOURNEY OF QUEERNESS


Alex Pyren, The Boy Diver, 2019. Installation view: Metro Arts. Photo: Seamus Platt



Alex Pyren, The Boy Diver, 2019. Installation view: Metro Arts. Photo: Seamus Platt

Uncapturable Moments, Childhood Nostalgia, AND A JOURNEY OF QUEERNESS

The exhibition’s charm is centred in its ability to transport the viewer into a place tht transcends time and highlights the perspective of Pyren’s childhood self. The artwork Looking Out, Looking In (2019) replicates the edge of a public swimming pool, representing the artist's memories of an exciting childhood memory, and its relationship to gender and the self. Resin emulates freshly flung water and wet footprints, depicting the moment before young Pyren dives for the coin at the base of the pool. “...Moments of self-determination,

In In/Out of Reach the artist replicates the moment of the dive, simulating the feeling of something being perpetually just out of reach. A small blue-tinted resin block sits on top of a platform which, resembles a section

The exhibition itself is crafted to feel like a half-remembered memory and aims to leave the viewer feeling as if they have just stepped into Pyren’s childhood pool, and subsequently their own memories. The blue line which wraps around the room adds to the immersive feeling within the space. The imagery of a child reaching but never quite finding a coin recalls childlike wonder and nostalgia, but also the concept of ‘Line of Flight’. Each of these details suggest an eternal moment seemingly free of constraint and full of possibility but burdened with the weight of memory and experience. The piece In/Out of Reach next to The Bottom of The Basin, is a disconnected piece replicating the pool floor. The plywood platform houses a small hand-cut mosaic, inspired by two fish Pyren encountered while fishing, which resembles a pool tile—potentially a familiar or nostalgic object to the audience also. As a whole, the exhibition attempts to capture an uncapturable moment; a slice of time dragged forth into the present through the manipulation of materials and ideas. Queer theory, shared memories, and childhood nostalgia play a key role in the effectiveness of Pyren’s work, conveying complex ideas that transcend even time itself. In the exhibition, the audience is placed in the perspective of young child diving for a coin with their grownup-self watching, reflecting, learning. While the exhibition draws on queer theory, known to the artist in the present, it becomes embedded


hope and futurity,”2 are represented by a young Pyren’s excitement and willingness to dive headfirst into the pool. A rectangular plywood platform, modelled after a video the artist found of a school swimming carnival, establishes a common connection to a widely shared childhood experience. The footprints, a culmination of Pyren’s found footage, connects their present and past self in a way that calls for self-reflection and existential thinking, encouraging the viewer to imagine themselves peering over the edge of a pool and seeing their own reflection. It asks: what would the reflection show? The artwork explores the philosophy of ‘Line of Flight’ through capturing this extended point of time, as a young Pyren gazes at the coin in the base of the pool with hope. Looking Out, Looking In has many details that further connect the viewer to a nostalgic time, such as cracks in the cement, or the row of tiles lining the pale blue edge of the simulated pool, and the curled up Band-Aid sitting in resin. Each element was purposefully chosen to build an immersive world and to convey the events that led to Pyren’s dive for the coin.

of the bottom of a pool, with a coin barely visible through the resin. In/Out of Reach is the smallest piece in the exhibition, but its size draws viewers towards the piece to discover the tiny object trapped inside, similar to how an apprehensive child would approach an object at the base of a pool3. Its proximity to neighbouring work Bottom of the Basin (2019) further reinforces the viewpoint of an uneasy child.


Alex Pyren, The Boy Diver, 2019. Installation view: Metro Arts. Photo: Seamus Platt

in the events of the past. The exhibition is a collection of contradictions, unanswered questions, and wide interpretations—a purposeful decision by the artist. A moment, once wholly encompassing and entrapping, is fragmented and half remembered. Now both Pyren and the viewer can watch over this past, free to leave at any time, knowing that the moment has passed.

Matt Fournier, "Lines Of Flight," Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, no. 1-2 (2014): 121-122. article/1/1-2/121/91705/Lines-of-Flight 2 Alex Pyren, email to the author, 19 July 2019. 3 Kyle Weise, exhibition tour of The Boy Diver, at Metro Arts. 1

Holly Hone St Andrew’s Anglican College


Robert Malherbe: Painting Intimacy



Robert Malherbe: Painting Intimacy

The relationship between artist and subject is one unlike any other. This bond may be a result of chance—a quick covert sketch—or premeditated. The two are bound by the work. Robert Malherbe evokes the intensity of this bond and elicits feelings of intimacy imparted through natural landscapes and landscapes of the human form.

Robert Malherbe emigrated from Mauritius to Australia as a child, where he continues to live. Malherbe’s ability to communicate profoundly through visual form is, in part, related to his childhood upheaval. Having moved to New South Wales at a young age, English wasn’t Malherbe’s first language, and for many years he was very shy at speaking the language: “[it] forced me into a situation where I would be

looking and communicating purely through visuals .”2 Malherbe taught himself to paint after being inspired by books that his mother brought home, realising he wanted to make works like those in the pages. As reviewer Judith Pugh explains, the artist taught himself by looking at great Western works by the likes of John Constable and Edouard Manet.3 In Painted from Life, Malherbe continues his lifelong investigation of the natural environment and the deeply personal. Malherbe’s Blackheath Street Corner I depicts the landscape of the small town Blackheath in New South Wales where Malherbe and his family now live.4 The painting portrays a personal, private moment in time, transitioning the fleeting moment into a permanent record to share with an audience. Malherbe generates visual interest through sharp, energic diagonal strokes that cut into the calmer horizontal strokes. Blackheath Street Corner I demonstrates Malherbe’s distinctive impasto-esque style of painting. Malherbe layers buttery, fat, luscious strokes of paint: a style that is exceedingly organic and expressive. The artist paints alla prima—wet on wet—moving paint freely around the canvas, creating brusque edges, bleeding tones and shadows in the work to create a sense of motion. The leaves in the trees move as though there is a breeze. The work


Robert Malherbe has exhibited nationally and locally. He has frequently been a finalist in the prestigious Archibald, Wynne, and Mosman prizes. Malherbe’s recent exhibition, Painted from Life, was shown at Jan Murphy Gallery from 18 June–13 July, 2019. As its name implies, in these works Malherbe eschews the modern convenience of photography in favour of painting the subject directly. Painted from Life is a collection of landscapes and nudes, expressing profound intimacy and exploring the inherent connection between subject, painter and audience. “What one hopes when one paints a picture is that the person looking at it will see what I see and feel what I felt .”1 Malherbe’s aim is to create a reciprocal relationship between the artist and the audience. The scenes and subjects of Malherbe’s works are indicative of the shared human experience, depicting intimate details of everyday life.



Previous page: Robert Malherbe, Blackheath street corner 1, 2019, oil on board, 51.0 x 41.0 cm. Above: Robert Malherbe, Nude 16, 2018, oil on canvas, 65.0 x 65.0 cm. Images courtesy the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery.

Robert Malherbe: Painting Intimacy

seems to breathe and have a life of its own. This ability to create motion stems from Malherbe’s animation training. Through the strokes of Blackheath Street Corner I the audience watches through Malherbe’s eyes the scene of the street corner, sharing in the idyllic moment.

Malherbe’s paintings are informed by the natural environments of landscapes and the human form and convey intimacy through painted gesture. The artist has captivated me from the first time I saw his works at Jan Murphy Gallery in 2013 and have stayed with me ever since. His works have served as a peaceful safe haven against the profound everyday stress I often feel.


Malherbe’s capacity to capture the connection shared between the audience, artist, and model is also seen in the artist’s nude works. Nude 16 is a small painting that portrays a life model serenely resting in a bed, exposed and bare. The edges of the strokes bleed into each other, adding to the tranquil ambience. Appearing to be in deep restful sleep, the scene removes the barrier between subject, artist, and audience. The model offsets the lush dark furnishings, becoming the centrepiece of the room. The vertical scraping of paint further draws the eye to the model. The rendering of the model’s features is reminiscent of the old Western masters’ figure drawings that have informed Malherbe’s style. The intense colour palette gives energy to the work, as well as capturing the intricacies of the model’s specific motions and their carefree demeanour. The work illustrates an organic openness that is shared with the audience. In leaving the model unnamed, Malherbe invites a viewer’s subconscious and individual experience to play a part interpreting the work through contemplating their own relationships and intimate moments.

Robert Malherbe. 2016. "Robert Malherbe – In A Brighter Light - Jan Murphy Gallery". Jan Murphy Gallery. Accessed September 6, 2019. videos/robert-malherbe-in-a-brighter-light/#video-popup. 2 Ibid. 3 Judith Pugh. 2017. "Robert Malherbe - Artist Profile". Artist Profile. Accessed September 6, 2019. https://www. 4 "Robert Malherbe - James Makin Gallery". n.d. James Makin Gallery. Accessed September 6, 2019. https:// 1

Published by the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane).  ©Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, and the individual authors, artists, and photographers, 2019. Designed by Sarah Thomson, Communications Officer, Institute of Modern Art. Printed by Spotpress, Australia. ISBN 978-1-875744-00-8 This work is copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Apart from any use permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without the prior written permission from the publishers. Director, Institute of Modern Art: Liz Nowell Assistant Director, Institute of Modern Art: Madeleine King Curator of Public Engagement, Institute of Modern Art: Alex Holt Executive Officer, Flying Arts Alliance: Kerryanne Farrer Scheduled Program Lead, Flying Arts Alliance: Julie Robson

The IMA is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, and from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, and through the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments. Flying Arts Alliance Inc is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, the University of Southern Queensland, and corporate partners and benefactors. Art Enquirer is proudly supported by Brisbane Airport Corporation and travel subsidies were made available thanks to Brian Tucker Accounting.


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