Works by postgraduate students from the Department of Art, Curtin University of Technology
20th June - 1st August @ The John Curtin Gallery
Reviewed by Judith McGrath
When you walk into the gallery there is a decided 'Zen' feel to the exhibits you first encounter. That sense permeates throughout, making this a unique and highly satisfying experience. Considering this, be prepared to slow your pace and take your time so as to properly consider and appreciate the art on display.
The four large paintings by Dragica Milunovic command our attention as they suggest windows to the universe. The viewer is drawn to these canvases and close inspection reveals how the whole 1500 mm square surface of each is covered with a plethora of delicate, individual, quick short strokes made by the smallest of paint brushes. Three works, entitled Black #27, Black #28, Black #29, involve white, grey and black marks on a black surface. Although similar, each has it's own sense of being as we find suggestions of 'shapes' beginning to form within clusters of different tonal values, then appear to advance or recede. It's like standing on the edge of a galaxy and witnessing the wonder of its continuous expansion. Then Marks Series 2 (No 9) composed of red, yellow and white small cursors on a pale yellow ground, hints at the birth of a new sun. Milunovic brings us to our own inner universe as we consider the power and beauty to be found in the proper placement of mark, hue and texture on a flat surface. But then, isn't that what pure painting is all about?
Fong Yeng Soon also takes us to an inner space, only this one is more sedate and precise. Her installation Absence/Presence offers a collection of clean sheets of white paper bearing small, machine-cut rectangular holes placed against one white and one grey wall. If we try to decipher it as code (like braille, or morse) we'd only do ourselves a disservice. It's best to just relax and use the whole as a visual mantra that suggests some peaceful, well-ordered place within the self. Much appreciated too are the artists' books but they seemed too pure and delicate and beautiful for me to want to handle. This is a compliment!
Many compliments too must go to Keumhee Oh for her excellent installation Mindless Space. Clear monofilament (fishing line) has been woven into the most fantastic objects of combined strength and delicacy that starts the imagination singing. Thoughts of ocean plankton, ice crystals, pollen, spores, even fairy floss, delightfully dance through the head. These beautifully constructed 'hairy' wreathes, pods, balls, vessels and structures sit on a shelf, hang from the ceiling and protrude from the wall to amaze and delight the viewer. After enjoying the effect of the installation, I couldn't help marvelling at how they are constructed. Also much admired is the artist's ability with the crochet hook. The giant hands of The Goddess of Mercy suggest the protective and assisting aspects of 'woman's work' and how it holds together so many aspects of life.
Also appreciated are Beth Kirkland's circular, water-colour and ink works Repetition 2 and Repetition 3 as well as the rectangular Repetitions series neatly collected in a wood box. They offer interesting viewing as well as displaying the artist's ability with, and respect for, line and colour; the building blocks of visual arts. Referencing Zen again, Mark Parfitt's installation and book entitled Carlisle Buffalo allows us to consider the peace to be found in watching grass grow.
As the majority of these works reveal the contemplative aspect held by the makers for their practice, the viewer should consider that when approaching the presentation. If you open your mind and are prepared to let the artworks take your thoughts along a different path, you'll appreciate the experience all the more.
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