Monochrome Extended

12 October - 10 November, SPA_CE Art Gallery
By Megan Seawright

SPA_CE art gallery’s current exhibition of seven artists’ singular and plural works convey a due consideration to selecting works of complement to the eye and to the forward motions of contemporary visual art making.

Cat Fooks two works Art by the sea, 2018, and Guide to gardening, 2018, gleam from thick sluices of paint, layered with household stuff: pasta and plastic bric-a-brac strapped on in a paint assemblage of colours perpetuating a three-dimensional surface. Paint covers everything including the frames. There are no smooth finishes just the joy of lush viscosity, the ultimate emblem to painterly attention: The serious play with paint as subject itself, worked until small pauses indicate its new positionality. There is unity through colour and a fresh tendency towards the celebrational. The works are bright adornments, contemporary gatherings founded together with a strong hand and an eye to slather generosity.

Vanessa Arthur is a jeweller extending the notions of what jewellery is and foraying into the terrains of space beyond its traditional structures. Still working metal with metal, in Waiting Space V, 2018, she is re-positioning her palette. Using enamel paint as a primary medium she reduces metal into an abstracted component. Her work gestures metal’s freedom from the constraints of body adornment, transitioning it instead into paintings through quick liberal brush strokes.

Julian Hooper’s Moves, 2018, reminisce of Fauvist Henry Matisse’s ‘cut-out’ genre, settles with some subtle differences such as a layering of canvas with one hidden underneath the other. The underlying colours complement the front colours which are the main focus of attraction. Like the several works in this exhibition, Hooper is re-purposing an object (canvas) and incorporating it into the body of the painting. Singular arms and legs, and a head whose body squarely stretches about the whole canvas convey a literal expression of the works title.

Martin Poppelwell’s Red Dot Two, 2015 is an ode to the sold and is popped just so, alongside Cat Fooks’ work Art by the sea 2018, as a complementary pleasure. This ceramic’s beauty is in the dense red glaze that shines out at us, making us hungry for more of its pigment. The dry and intelligent humour of Poppelwell apparent in the simplest of makings, holds an underpinning realism for all artists selling – and being sold.

John Roy’s Stand, 2018, a figurative work is standing in a moment of holding. The outlaw, or is it that he just cannot breathe, is locked in brick with hands contained in a standstill. It is as if the man is trapped in the ‘mono’ of social conformity.  It’s a quiet and pensive work, leaving a residual feeling for freedom from one size fits all.

Jake Walker’s 009, is perhaps the pivotal piece of the exhibition. The monochrome white canvas is holed and layered upon itself as if from off-cuts, establishing density and texture, its scrim-like jute, the just excess to canvas. The surrounding stoneware constructional frame is an ode to constructional architecture. All position the work between tough and gentle, one being too heavy for the other and yet working together… an interesting protective symbolism for that which has already been cut out and torn and yet is complete and beautiful.

Mark Braunias’s two works, Gentleman Bankers and Mongrel Kunstler, offer narrative through an overt monochrome palette. Each work is a cause and effect; one the representation of society globalised to capitalism via banking; the other the neck stretching of Kunstler, known for his outspoken representation of urban scarcity, dystopic plight of peak oil. This is a brief social commentary of US westernisation.

Up the stair well of SPA_CE all viewers are greeted with DBb 5090.511, Estate of L. Budd. It is an emphatic exploration of monochrome. The only sense of light is in the formal vertical cuts to the roller (another found surface) under oil stick and acrylic black paint. With the object blacked out, its only indicators of light are in keeping every aspect of the process with it, thus the works bottom cut pieces are bull-clipped to the side, so to leave nothing behind. The work brought about conversation from viewers, the common comparison being to that recent Bansky Girl with a balloon, 2006, partial shredding after surpassing 1.4 million sale at auction. In of itself a dig at the commodification of art and object. In Monochrome extended we have an antidote. Found objects are plied with paint, paint as the subject – as all creatives know, you can paint anything. There really are no limits. Whether or not the public will recognise the value of this as art set against commodification, is another enquiry into the ideas of who and what defines value in society. So, I suggest you take a look, and explore these artistic locations for yourself.







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