STEPHEN BUSH, GRETCHEN GORDON,
TOM POLO, ANNE WALLACE
29 June - 24 July 2016
Narratives, real or imagined, implied or represented constitute much of what has been produced under the banner of ‘art’, and although many artists in the past 100 years have tried to break away from this mantra, many others still find traction within this field. Four artists from four different states and four very different approaches, share the physical space and a passion for telling a story.
Stephen Bush is an artist who explores notions of historical and cultural reinvention through the act of painting and the potential of the medium of paint. The figure in the landscape is a key motif in Bush’s work. It is a reference to 19th century European and American landscape painting traditions that sought to convey a sense of the awesome power of nature in relationship to the human figure, while also depicting humanity’s desire and capacity to tame the natural world.
Gretchen Gordon from Adelaide is a photo based artist, who’s work is strongly influenced by ongoing international travels, which take her regularly between homes in South Australia, Los Angeles, and Baja Mexico. In ‘Carny Tiger’ Gordon documents a circus in decline.
Gordon writes:Apollo is twenty-one, and Circus is in his blood. He's the family star, performing with eight tigers: Sumatran, Siberian, Indian, Malayan and Bengal Whites. I ask where the Tigers are from. He says, "Mainly the Cartels. Tigers are a ritualistic sign of power and wealth, the Cartel families like to drive around with tiger cubs in their cars. When they get older it's harder - their nature, they need more food, their claws damage things. Eventually, they get discarded."
Tom Polo from Sydney is the youngest of the group. His paintings have an obvious degree of humour and simplicity capturing the artist’s empathetic view of people and emotions in a few lines, patches of colour at small scale. Polo graduated with an MA from UNSW in 2011, since then he has worked his way through a number of thematic projects in various media – performance, photography, installation – but painting was always, and remains, his strongest suit.
Wallace is a figurative painter, known for her theatrical, carefully staged dream-like scenes, which are often ambiguous and have a sense of foreboding. Her work has been compared to cinematic realism and Hollywood B-grade horror film stills, although she wrote there are two things she regrets having said about her work: first, that it bears a relation to film and, second, that her pictures are anti-narrative. “People say of my work that ‘it looks portentous and sinister, but perhaps only something mundane is actually happening’, or vice-versa. In other words, perhaps it’s about the sinister underlying the mundane — the unheimlich, the uncanny — but then again, maybe it’s not.”