Monday, September 13, 2010

Primed – New Painting in Tasmania

Academy Gallery, UTAS
Curated by Catherine Wolfhagen
By Anneliese Milk

Following the straightforward premise of Tasmanian artists and their latest journey with paint, Primed is anything but simple. Curated by Catherine Wolfhagen, Primed brings together complex new works by diverse artists: Amanda Davies, Annika Koops, Jonathan Kimberley, Richard Wastell, Catherine Woo, Neil Haddon and Megan Walch. Beyond the common ground of Tasmania and the medium of paint, these works find a symbiosis that is at once surprising, challenging, and alienating.

The Academy Gallery proves to be the perfect host to this eclectic show, incorporating a different artist into each fold of the space. Amanda Davies’ latest offering reveals a preoccupation with anonymous, fragmented limbs. It is a curious moment rendered in Clear (2010) – stretched across a seat with one leg wrapped in plastic, an individual thrusts their hand out in time to obscure their face from the viewer forever. A recurring image in other Davies paintings, limbs that look as though they have been fashioned from plaster lie discarded in industrial spaces.
Continuing the theme of fragmentation, Megan Walch detaches her subjects from their surroundings – luminous jellyfish and fungi emerge from black canvases. An oriental plant mystically spirals upwards across seven black masonite panels in What goes up (2010). A glittery plinth presents itself at each new level – upon one, a tiny house of cards has been erected.
Annika Koops’ latest work challenges the viewer in its cold, disconcerting perfection. The sense of disconnection that is embraced in Walch and Davies’ work also appears in Koops’ paintings. Sleek, disembodied hairstyles are rendered on pure white canvases – Blue Black Bob (2010) and Long Black Hair (2010) become advertisements for desirable wigs.The subject of Koops’ Clarity Jam (2010) averts her gaze from the viewer. She stares unnervingly at dead space beyond the frame. Replete with a flawless, peachy, high-cheek-boned beauty, she looks every bit the librarian or secretary from a by-gone era, primly fastened -up with an absurd pastel bow and a bun that would make a ballerina weep.
Showing until 17 October, Primed represents one fragment of the effervescent visual arts scene unfolding in Tasmania.The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arts Tasmania.

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