PICA SALON 2015 ARTISTS
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Coming to Terms series
Through this new body of work Abdul Abdullah is examining our relationship to the natural world. Connected to his series of self-portraits borrowing from the Planet of the Apes imagery, the artist sees his reflection in the monkey he tenderly holds and who returns his affections. They are the same, but entirely different, each seeking solace in the other. It is an intimate space they share, one which could be read as paternal on the one hand, but monstrous on the other. Abdullah says he “hopes to communicate a sense of optimism with their connection. In a way both figures have inherited a world littered with the challenges left by those who came before them and will both need to adapt to survive the hostilities”.
Perth-born rising star Abdul Abdullah has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize three times. His work, which often examines identity politics in Australia, is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, the Islamic Museum of Australia and the Bendigo Art Gallery. Abdul Abdullah is represented by Fehily Contemporary.
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah presents a trilogy of works made in collaboration with his mother, Maimunah Abdullah, a Bugis Malay ceramicist. The hand-carved and painted animals, a fish, a snake and a pigeon are each nestled into glazed bowls and are the artist’s response to the forms a personal epic narrative can take. The three works refer back to moments of childhood in which Abdul-Rahman Abdullah encountered three common Australian animals in different environments, and the enduring emotional sensations of love, fear and curiosity associated with those vignettes. He has looked at how small, seemingly inconsequential encounters from the past can resonate and grow into formative experiences that bridge decades and resonate over a lifetime. They also speak of the artist’s broader interests of identity articulated through animal archetypes.
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah is an emerging West Australian artist working primarily in sculpture, installation and drawing. Abdullah’s practice explores definitions and experiences of cultural identity, focusing on memory, narrative and the domestic environment to access esoteric social histories within an urban Australian environment. He is represented by Dianne Tanzer Gallery.
Dark Learning series
Jacobus Capone made waves in 2007 with his graduate work from Edith Cowan University that saw him cross Australia by foot, to pour water from the Indian Ocean into the Pacific. This 147-day journey was the start of an epic performative practice, one that has been marked by sublime works of endurance and an almost monastic sense of discipline. Recently his work has flourished on foreign soil, responding to an extensive program of international residencies in Iceland and Finland. His most recent project is Dark Learning, which he describes as part of an “ongoing journey to better fathom one’s relationship to the natural world”. An epic project made over 2 years and shot in 7 chapters, the breathtaking photographs made from these extreme voyages will be premiered at the PICA Salon.
Jacobus Capone is an Australian artist who works internationally from Perth. Since 2011 he has exhibited or performed in Berlin, Helsinki, Taipei, New York, Chicago, in Alaska, and across Japan and Australia. His work presents his intense encounters and engagement with the world around him.
Lumen Landscapes series
Penny Coss’ paintings often start with her encounter with a particular place. Her most recent expansive series of sublime stain paintings are a new trajectory which fluidly describe her relationship to the lake near her studio in South Fremantle. For the artist, there is always a latent narrative lurking beneath each work, an invisible transcription of her walks through the landscape. The act of walking and grounding oneself is at the heart of these works. Scale, voids and gravity are forces to be reckoned with and are conjured up in Penny Coss’s paintings though blots, plumes, blooms and cloudy ethereal washes of colour, as if the canvas has been stained by a body of water.
Perth artist Penny Coss‘ paintings emerge from the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, taking the movement’s formal elements but manipulating them into a new visual, yet still gestural, language. In this way, her works simultaneously give rise to a sense of familiarity and of distance and isolation. Coss is represented by Art Collective WA.
Teelah George embraces the physicality of paint to trace her journey within her studio, the place she inhabits the most. Using fragments of old canvas, her new series of Rag Paintings are palimpsests, like those scrolls of parchment or books which were scraped back or washed and re-used. For the Salon George has made three new paintings on varying sized torn canvases, embedded with the history of the studio, the previous actions of the artist and all she has witnessed. Also included is a week of Daily Exercises, her primal self-portraits on board executed every day for a month. Like Xavier de Maistre, the writer who famously undertook a “Journey Around My Room”, George’s mode of travel is to chart the circumference of her studio, suggesting an ambiguous and malleable narrative.
WA artist Teelah George’s practice often employs archival information as a point of departure for a broader questioning of place, both her own within the arts community and within Australian society more generally. The relationship between the artworks and their respective processes creates a platform for dialogue about traditional concepts of collections and collecting.
Tarryn Gill has been creating a pantheon populated by ‘Guardians’, tomb monuments which guard her own imaginary mausoleum. The artist has used stockings and stretched these around carved hunks of foam. In sewing this sheer material and suturing it closed, every stitch leaves an ugly scar – these beasts appear like a DIY taxidermy job on fantastical sentinels of the afterlife. The guardians often come in watchful pairs and the new scaled-up beasts reference the much loved 1984 film, Never-Ending Story, as well as being a narrative metaphor for the afterlife. We might expect the tombs that Gill’s Guardians protect to be a Memento Mori – a loaded reminder of our mortality. These new sphinxes, whilst still referred to as Guardians, are more menacing, grander and move from the symbolic into the demonic. At any point they threaten to take out fugitives and trespassers into the tomb with their laser beam eyes.
Tarryn Gill is a Perth based multidisciplinary artist. Working predominantly in photography, film, performance, choreography and set and costume design, she has recently embarked on sculptural and drawing projects. Earlier in 2015 she featured in An Internal Difficulty at PICA.
Born 1952 Numbulwar, Northern Territory, Malaluba Gumana is a senior Yolgnu artist who lives in the tiny homeland of Gangan in the Blue Mud Bay region in Northeast Arnhem Land. Gumana is known for her intricate memorial poles and her telling of the story of the Wititj, the Rainbow Serpent. Gumana translates the turbulent tales of storms and monsoons onto barks through her intricate paintings. She is the winner of the Best Bark Prize at the 30th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. Malaluba Gumana’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra,
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney,
Kerry Stokes Collection.
Malaluba Gamana is a member of the Dhalwanu clan and belongs to the Yirritja moiety. Most of her artworks portray her mother’s Gälpu clan designs of dhatam (waterlilly), djari (rainbow), djaykun (filesnake) and wititj (olive python). Her work also represents Garrimala, a billabong near where she lives at Gangan, a sacred site for the Galpu clan. Gamana is represented by Seva Frangos Art.
Screen Set series
Zoe Kirkwood borrows from and conflates grand movements of painting and art history to create her own dynamic language through bombastic installations of paintings and sculptures. Here she plays with and inverts the idea of the traditional ‘epic narrative’ in painting. Her painting, Baroque-Poussin, references the decorative carvings of the gilt frames that house iconic classical works. Drawn to the traditional craftsmanship and artisanal attention to detail in the woodwork, these intricate, but symmetrical flourishes have been blown up to create an enormous Rorschach style diptych. Obsessed with the Baroque and fanatical about Pop Art, Kirkwood flamboyantly layers the motifs and colour palette of both. Accompanied by roped-up spray-painted sculptures from her new Screen Set series, Kirkwood abstracts the devices, scaffolding and armatures from painting and film sets to create an empowered drama of feminist anti-monuments.
Drawing on the visual language and the extravagance of Baroque spectacle, Zoe Kirkwood’s works bring together painting, sculpture and installation. A graduate of the University of South Australia with a First Class Honours Degree in Visual Arts in 2013, she received the Doctor Harold Schenberg Art Prize for her contribution to the 2014 edition of Hatched at PICA.
God Made Me in His Own Image, New York Stories and Tarot Card series
Richard Lewer’s practice has long been fascinated by the epic narratives embroiled in the everyday. Drawn to biographies, memoirs and obituaries, Lewer’s œuvre reads like an expanded history painting, always showing that truth is stranger than fiction. His portraits often capture individuals who live on the fringes of society, including a tarot card reader, Carol Weave Lane from his series, God Made Me in His Own Image. Often capturing tragic moments of mortal drama his painting 12-9 was made in New York whilst Lewer was listening to the police scanner, and his peg board painting The End, sums things up, without ceremony or embellishment but with stoic brevity.
Richard Lewer is a Melbourne-based, New Zealand-born artist whose practice encompasses painting, drawing, animation, video and performance. His art is based around highly subjective encounters with family, crime, sport and religion, and makes use of a diverse range of often unexpected media including stainless steel, aluminium, sheepskin, paper on clipboard, sandpaper, pegboard, Formica and concrete. Lewer is represented by Hugo Michell Gallery and Sullivan and Strumpf.
Shannon Lyons’ fascination with the history of the ‘salon’ as a mode of presentation has informed the layout of these painted artefacts. Seductive in their tactility, the surfaces of the monochromes are meticulously rendered. Lyons has carefully built up of layers of paint that are hand-finished and honed to appear like sections of wall, but instead become evocative objects laden with the history of their manufacture. Like the memories of every exhibition Lyons has ever seen at PICA, these works carry the colour palettes and physical quirks of her recollections. Lyon’s works function as fragments – as memories made manifest that reveal the spatiotemporal narrative of one place and become part of the future chronicle of their next location.
Shannon Lyons is a Perth-based artist whose multidisciplinary practice adapts, draws from and responds to specifically located built environments, producing works which directly reference the site where they are made, or are eventually exhibited. Her site-specific undertakings seek to unpack the relationships existing between artistic content and its exhibition context.
An artist as much as a geographer, Clare Peake draws on cartography and topographical studies of landscapes. Often creating miniature clay sculptures or fine graphite renderings of rock formations or celestial maps, her works are from and of the world. However, with this new series, Clare Peake has dramatically scaled up, creating a copse of monolithic forms for us to move through, accompanied by drawings which may or may not plot the coordinates of this weird place. Larger than (human) life, these structures coated in paper pulp, are like something from the beginning of time. They are totemic but strange, as if they once served a ritual function for giants.
Clare Peake is a graduate of Curtin University and the University of Western Australia. Her tactile practice interrogates the process of building an idea or an image of something by examining its restructuring as it is translated into material, tangible form.
PIP & POP
Pip & Pop has described the making of her micro-pop, colour-saturated universes as being inspired by the Japanese Playstation video game, Katamari Damacy. Within the game, a katamari is a mutli-coloured bumpy call, a magical device that has the ability to collect objects and characters on its sticky surface until it is so complex that it becomes a planet in its own right. Pip & Pop’s installations, collages and prints expand like katamari balls, accruing images, objects and shapes which become fantastical landscapes. For Epic Narratives, Pip & Pop has created a new wallpaper design and kaleidoscopic, geometric prints which are based on an epic folkoric tale of the Dream Journey to Peach Blossom Land. A depiction of Korean Prince Anpyeong’s dream of a voyage into paradise, upon waking, he summoned artist An Gyeon to paint it. The original story comes from China, written by poet Tao Yuanming in the 400’s. Like a pastel infused history painting, Pip & Pop’s new work reimagines this journey in a dream.
Perth based visual artist Tanya Schultz is Pip & Pop. Her installations and 3D landscapes made from brightly dyed sugar, glitter and plastic toys blend pop psychedelia with a Kawaii aesthetic and meditate on material abundance and the transitory nature of life.
Reko Rennie’s work confronts our perception of master narratives by way of resistance, reclamation and symbolic reinterpretation. He makes protest paintings which are political statements about the original custodians of Australia – the Aboriginal people. Here, Rennie has painted his three symbols: the crown, the diamond and the Aboriginal flag on a darkly glittering surface of micaceous oxide paint. The crown signifies sovereign status and prompts us to recognise Aboriginal people as the lawful sovereigns of Australia, as opposed to the Commonwealth. The diamond is the artist’s emblematic acknowledgement of his Kamilaroi/Gamilaroi people and represents the ceremonial markings of his people, similar to a family crest. The Aboriginal flag, drawn in the form of a graffiti tag, honours all Aboriginal people, from environments both urban and remote and anywhere in between. Reko Rennie’s works are both biographical and autobiographic, personal and universal and share stories which reclaim the space of the ‘epics’.
Reko Rennie is a Sydney-based interdisciplinary artist whose work explores his Kamilaroi, Gamilaraay and Gummaroi identity. His art combines the iconography of his Aboriginal heritage with stylistic elements of graffiti and street art, and in so doing explores issues surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in a contemporary, urban environment. Rennie is represented by blackartprojects.
For Vanessa Russ, country and cultural memory are the expansive territories her meandering ink drawings traverse. An Aboriginal artist who grew up in the Kimberley but is based in Perth, she returns to country when she can, but is often at a distance from it. Her drawings are of strong liquid lines which manoeuvre around and across vast sheets of paper: they are always portraits of the land, of the waterholes, gorges and rivers, and they are always self-portraits. The artist says that “water shapes the country and shapes who you are – water leaves a mark, like a memory”. For Epic Narratives, Russ is scaling up her ink and water drawings to create a series of eight expansive works on paper, four which depict the wet season, and four which depict the dry season.
Vanessa Russ is a contemporary artist whose practice explores memory through mark making. While most of her works appear to be highly abstract, they continue to reference and represent belonging, place, connection and family. Russ is represented by Seva Frangos Art.
Keep Fighting series
Snapcat is a collaboration between Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill. Their PICA Salon work Keep Fighting takes the form of a large scale wall mural adorned with five paintings on wooden canvases resembling flags, shields and banners. Brightly coloured and decorative, the shapes of the canvases are drawn from archival images of protests and parades. Filled with joyous, proud and defiant marks, this work is activated during a performance that sees the artists enact a tiny parade through the gallery. An ongoing project, Tiny Parades is a series of one-off performances in which the pair have taken to the streets of Perth, each time championing different human-sized struggles and joys. The parades make use of bright costumes, hand-painted placards, flyers, music, chants and banners. Snapcat’s PICA Salon series of charged, loaded paintings are optimistic in their reach and colour palette and stand as protest banners for our times.
Snapcat is a collaboration between Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill involving painting, sculpture, video and participatory performance. Their ongoing themes of investigation include survival, bravery and communication which they explore through colour, spectacle, cross-media art forms and a do-it-yourself attitude.
metamodel.dna and city constructed from sleeping brain activity data series
Kynan Tan has been working on a new suite of three black 3D printed sculptures, metamodel.dna, the artist’s computational interpretation of DNA data. These conceptually build on an earlier set of compelling 3D micro-cityscapes constructed from sleeping brain activity data that the artist has also digitally re-imagined. The metamodel.dna sculptures conceived for Epic Narratives incorporate DNA data of bacteria commonly present in the human body as part of the microbiome, which is algorithmically linked with human DNA data. These findings suggest an alternate conception of the human as a multi-species ecology and questions the relations that humans have to other species of life and to our surrounding (eco)systems. The resulting sculptures are complex, dark and surreal, speculating on a kind of virtual space beyond the limits of scientific measurement or human understanding.
Kynan Tan is a Perth-born, Sydney-based artist working with digital processes to investigate networks, data transference and relational structures between multiple senses. His latest works take the form of multi-screen audio-visual performances, installations, 3D-printed sculptures, improvised sound, and kinetic artworks involving electronic circuits, speakers and lights.
Hossein Valamanesh’s works came out of a particular experience of residency in Switzerland in October 2001. He arrived less than three weeks after the Twin Tower disaster and its aftermath. For Switzerland this was a double blow: on the day he arrived Swiss Air also went bankrupt. Everyday the artist would receive the local newspaper, which was in German, but the stock market report, in particular, grabbed his attention. In the middle of this page, there was a graph showing the Swiss Market index, and because of recent events – September 11 and the Swiss Air collapse – these graphs were dramatic. The artist had gone to see the landscape in Switzerland and instead was witness to a daily report on the financial landscape. This double-take inspired him to superimpose a natural landscape on the graph, with the movement of the graph itself determining another type of mountain peaks and valleys. Valamanesh is known for working across many mediums, but for these he specifically returned to his training in painting miniatures, which he studied in the late 1960s in art school in Tehran, to create tiny alpine landscapes, which also document a turbulent global and local narrative.
Hossein Valamanesh was born in Iran and graduated from the School of Fine Art in Tehran in 1970 before immigrating to Australia in 1973. His work mines his cultural heritage, having made use of Persian carpets and old family photographs, often producing a metaphysical questioning and quiet reflection in the introspective viewer. Valamanesh is represented by Greenaway Art Gallery.
Habitat Capsule series
In response to the Epic Narratives theme, Gosia Wlodarczak has created four meditations on memory and habitat. These intricate digital collages of up to 150 individual images contained within each expansive composition, which she calls her Habitat Capsules, generated from walking through four cities – Perth, Melbourne, New York and Szczecin. Each work draws on the artist’s personal history of migration from her hometown of Szczecin, Poland to Perth, where she and her partner settled as a new migrants; Melbourne, their second home in Australia; and New York where she recently undertook a residency. These are documents of the semi-permanent experience between a trip and migration. These prints are resolutely digital constructions, evidenced through the use of high-tonal contrast excerpts and posterisation, intimate in their diaristic detail yet expansive in their universal reach. These complex digital prints capture the sights and sensations of these cities experienced on foot, creating a personalised space and an elaborate memoir of the artist.
Gosia Wlodarczak is a Polish-born artist whose work archives the phenomenon of existence as a concrete set of lines and shapes. Her practice may be described as cross-disciplinary drawing, with drawing being used as a basis for exploration into performance, interactive situations, installation, sound and film. Wlodarczak is represented by Fehily Contemporary, Helen Maxwell, and BoxoPROJECTS.
Last year Caitlin Yardley undertook a residency at the Alvar Aalto Studio in Helsinki. The starting point for the XYZ series was a fragment of wool upholstery, acquired whilst the artist was in Finland. The specific zebra design was imported by Aalto from Belgium in the 1930s and used primarily on his iconic Armchair 400. Yardley’s interest in the fluid, organic side of this modernist architect and designer led her into a creating a visual biography through drawings, screen prints on Perspex, works with goat skin pelts and a tapestry-like Artek zebra fabric. Yardley creates interesting and unnerving counterpoints in the unsettling combination of fabric, leather and perspex. Her language of abstraction is grounded in the intimate and psychological, and the way objects are framed by cultural narratives and in turn stimulate new ones.
Born in Ballarat, Caitlin Yardley graduated from Edith Cowan University in 2007 before relocating to London where she received a Master of Fine Arts from Goldsmith University. Her most recent works take the form of installations featuring painting, sculpture and documents, and, in Yardley’s own words, intends to ‘alter and diverge the distances between ideological surfaces.’