Erica Gray: life.e.quatic.home

The paintings and sculptures in this exhibition further Erica Gray’s life.e.quatic series in celebrating the vivid colours, intricate patterning and structural complexities observed in a variety of marine creatures, coral formations particularly. During mandatory isolation on account of COVID-19, Gray fostered new approaches to the rendering of her marine subject matter. Her abode took on an ambience akin to being submerged beneath the waves. The enclosed environment offered both cognition of and immunity from the dire situation occurring in the world beyond. ‘Social seclusion was a big motivation,’ she reflects. ‘I came to have a greater appreciation of my home and reimagined it within an aquatic realm.’

Erica Gray, life.e.quatic 2.24, 2020, sealed acrylic on canvas, 61 x 51cm. Courtesy the artist and Anthea Polson Art, Queensland

The quietude synonymous with watery depths permeates Gray’s paintings. Luminous sea creatures are conjured into domestic spaces now adrift in dream-like pastel hues. Living coral has appeared amidst breakfast leftovers, dishes and cutlery on a kitchen sink. Bedroom décor evinces the aquatic tenor: richly coloured coral motifs emblazon bed coverlets, cushions and lamp bases. A most intriguing character reaches into a wardrobe that is metaphorically brimming with imaginative possibilities.

Erica Gray, life.e.quatic.home1.1, 2020, sealed acrylic on canvas, 61 x 51cm. Courtesy the artist and Anthea Polson Art, Queensland

Anthea Polson Art at Tedder Avenue
27 June to 11 July 2020

Robert Malherbe: The Human Landscape

Robert Malherbe’s confident articulation of landscape and figurative subject matter has earned him the distinction of being one of Australia’s most loved contemporary painters. His heavy impasto application of oils is as seductive as it is revealing of the pace in which he paints. Working only from life, Malherbe is a master of light, confidently capturing fleeting moments in a vibrant impressionistic style, driven by instinct and gesture. ‘The Human Landscape’ is Malherbe’s most recent collection of new paintings.

Robert Malherbe, Woman Reading, 2020, oil on linen, 66 x 56cm. Courtesy the artist and Michael Reid Sydney

Michael Reid Sydney
25 June to 21 July 2020

On view in the gallery or online

Living With Art: Reg Mombassa

Christopher O’Doherty, also known as Reg Mombassa, is a musician and artist who exhibited with the highly regarded Watters Gallery from 1975 to 2018, when it closed. He designed graphics for ‘Mambo’ and collaborated with 3:33 Art Projects and Clayton Utz earlier this year. He is socially conscious and rebellious. His work captures our attention with a witty, joyous and biting lens through which we can view Australian culture, its charm and failings. As such, the first few remarkable months of 2020 from bush fires to the pandemic have seen the artist leaning into his feelings of ‘alarm and anxiety’, and expressing this through art.

Reg Mombassa in the studio with his new self-portraits, 2020

In his many decades of practice, Mombassa has held solo and group art shows in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, USA, France, Britain, China and Thailand. The artist had a survey show at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in 2007 and Manly Gallery and Museum in 2018 with his brother Peter O’Doherty. His designs were featured in the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, and he designed the graphics for the 2013 Sydney New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Earlier this year you exhibited with 3:33 Art Projects in the Clayton Utz Art Partnership, what is special about the collaboration?

The unique appeal of working with 3:33 Art Projects is twofold; the artist’s work is exposed to an audience that doesn’t necessarily have the time or inclination to visit commercial galleries, and two, because of the office settings and length of the shows people get to look at and live with artworks over a longer time frame than a normally brief visit to a commercial or public gallery allows the viewer.

Has the continuation of conservative politics in Australia, and abroad, as it applies to the environment, arts, equality and so on affected the current narrative in your work? What new themes has this raised for you?

There aren’t really any new themes. Throughout human history we have generally been governed by a ruthlessly unjust hierarchical patriarchy that has put its own interests above those of the rest of the population. From aristocratic warriors through to religious leaders and now big business and the politicians who support them nothing has changed. Skepticism, fear, resentment and a desire to mock the terrible absurdity of these aspects of human society and behaviour have always been a part of my work.

Reg Mombassa, Australian Jesus with eyes popped out, 2016, edition of 20 , digital print on canvas, 147 x 109cm

Your practice is diverse and there are points of entry for the viewer in humour, iconography, a bold and colourful aesthetic, glitter, drawing, printmaking and fashion; what is the relationship between your creative choices and messaging?

There is no specific desire on my part to impart a message of any sort. Landscapes are relatively straightforward renditions of aspects of the landscape that interest or inspire me and are generally en plein air drawings or paintings and drawings derived from my own reference photographs or from my en plein air drawings. The more graphic pictures or allegorical narratives make references to popular culture, history, politics and religion but there is no specific message I am trying to impart. Things that happen in the world may horrify me or make me angry but I am just expressing that, and hopefully my observations may resonate with some of my fellow humans. I don’t expect any of the opinionated ranting that may appear in some of my work, to change anyone’s mind about anything.

What is the role of art in these exceptional times?

All times are exceptional to the people who live through them. Artists make things that express their reaction to their inner and outer worlds and that has never changed. The current high level of global unease and anxiety is obviously being reflected on by many artists, but I doubt that it will improve the situation. Until the human race can miraculously transform its consciousness from the current poisonous stew of patriarchal dominance, militarism, ruthless under-regulated capitalism, idiotic nationalistic patriotism and violently irrational religious belief we are doomed to extinction.

What’s coming up for you next?

More online Facebook concerts with my band Dog Trumpet and hopefully an art show with Rogue Pop-Up Gallery later in the year.

Reg Mombassa, Bones, poles and wires, 2015, etching with aquatint, 74 x 51cm

Reg Mombassa is represented by Rogue Pop-up Gallery, Sydney

This article is presented in collaboration with 3:33 Art Projects

Tia Ansell: Twins

‘Twins’ presents a new body of work by New Zealand born and Melbourne based artist Tia Ansell; intricately patterned weaving-paintings which reference the grids and geometries in our urban landscapes. Through a coding system, Ansell translates the gridation and light patterns of her surroundings into weaves produced on her shuttle loom. The constraints of the weave regulate the design possibilities and organise space. Influenced by the art movements of Constructivism and Bauhaus, her practice is interested in the geometries of mass production afforded by industrialisation. As such, Ansell investigates the history of formalism and object-hood as it connects through visual art, architectural and design discourses.

LON Gallery
10 June to 4 July 2020

The Archibald is back: Art Gallery of NSW announces exhibitions – Time Out Sydney

After a rude interruption, courtesy of a certain health crisis, the Art Gallery of NSW is open once more and has now unveiled a fantastic line-up of exciting exhibitions for the rest of the year, spearheaded by the return of Australia’s much-loved portrait competition, the Archibald Prize, alongside the Wynne and Sulman Prizes.

“After much anticipation from artists and audiences alike, we are very pleased to announce new dates for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 exhibition and to now invite entries from artists across Australia,” AGNSW director Michael Brand said.

An exhibition of the no-doubt excellent entrants will open on September 26, and we can’t wait to see which famous faces make it onto canvases coming to the gallery soon.

Arthur Streeton ‘Fire’s on’ 1891

Sadly, due to restrictions on international travel, Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Matisse Alive have been postponed. But Brand announced Streeton, a major retrospective of the sunshiney works of Arthur Streeton which will brighten up the lives of gallery-goers from this November. That month also features a long-overdue look at the career of Pat Larter, Get Arted, that centres on the female gaze and proud sexuality.

Coming in October, Joy will showcase uplifting works of art from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives working in the Central Desert, including works by Queenie Kemarre and Judith Inkamala.

Patricia Larter ‘Pat’s anger’ 1992

Real Worlds, the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020, presents imaginary worlds summoned onto paper by eight contemporary Australian artists including Danie Mellor, Martin Bell, Peter Mungkuri and Becc Ország, also in October.

If you can’t wait that long for your restorative art fix, Western Sydney artist Khaled Sabsabi’s solo exhibition, A Promise, opens on July 18, with a world view ranging from Sydney to the Middle East, exploring spiritual belief, politics and conflict.

You can also head into AGNSW right now to check out current exhibitions Some Mysterious Process, showcasing some of the institution’s finest acquisitions from the previous 50 years, including the beautiful work of David Hockney, Under the Stars featuring Shaun Gladwell, and the now-reopened Biennale of Sydney: Nirin.

Need more art in a hurry? Check out this month’s coolest exhibitions.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.


Image: Supplied

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Kids worldwide can join in Art Gallery NSW’s latest creative call – Time Out Sydney

Looking for ideas to keep the kids corralled constructively these school holidays? Art Gallery of NSW’s Together In Art Kids online project has heaps to keep them amused and your fuse unblown. 

Aimed at kids aged between five and 12, the first iteration earlier this year featured artist Del Kathryn Barton, who championed the theme ‘Inner Worlds’. Almost 800 kids from all over Australia submitted their make-do masterpieces online, using whatever materials they had to hand. You can check out some of the highlights on the website. In fact, it was so popular they don’t want anyone missing out this time round.

Now Together In Art Kids is going global, with kids anywhere in the world able to join in and let their creativity shine. Indonesian-Australian artist Jumaadi has chosen the theme ‘Special to Me’, inviting artworks inspired by someone, something or somewhere special to your little ones.

“As children here in Australia begin to return to school, many more children around the world remain isolated from their friends and community, and we’re all experiencing a mix of emotions,” Jumaadi says. “In times like these, I like to create pictures of my friends, loved ones, family – those near and far – and draw from my fond memories of special places in my mind. Those things excite me to make more pictures. But more than that, they give me a kind of comfort.”

Art Gallery of NSW deputy director and director of collections Maud Page says she’s been delighted by the imagination on display from budding  young artists. “Due to the tremendous positive response to the first round of Together In Art Kids in Australia, we are excited to open the second round to international entrants, giving children living anywhere in the world a new avenue to express themselves creatively.”

Your kids can submit work online until 5pm on Sunday, July 12, with a digital exhibition of entries launching on Monday, July 27.

Still need a distraction? Let the kids rock out to the Wiggles at the Opera House.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.


Image: Supplied

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