MARTIN BROWN FINE ART @ GAGPROJECTS
NEIL FRAZER, LINDE IVIMEY, TIM MAGUIRE, ALEXANDER MCKENZIE, KRISTEEN PIETERSE, JOHN PULE, SIMON STRONG
27 Aug - 19 Sep 2010
Encouraging collegiality, Martin Browne Fine Art @ Greenaway Art Gallery is the third in our series of invited galleries, following GRANTPIRRIE @ Greenaway Art Gallery (2008) and Anna Schwartz Gallery @ Greenaway Art Gallery (2009). We thank Martin Browne, his staff, and the artists for participating in this exhibition.
Kirsteen Pieterse’s sculptures are instantly recognisable in both their form and beauty. Pieterse’s fastidiously constructed works, as well as her intricately detailed large ink and pencil drawings, evoke a strong connection to the landscape, the mark of humankind and the passage of time. The artist’s perfectly balanced, yet seemingly fragile constructions speak of the dichotomy between strength and decay- a nostalgic and romantic inference to the natural paradox of destruction and rejuvenation. Kirsteen Pieterse was born in 1971 in Ayreshire, Scotland. She studied in both Glasgow and London and was awarded a Master of Architecture by the University of East London, before moving to Sydney in 2000. Pieterse has been included numerous times as a fi nalist in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize of which she was voted as the Viewers’ Choice Award winner in 2004. In 2005 she was a fi nalist in the National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, and in 2008 was a fi nalist in the Helen Lempriere Sculpture Prize and Exhibition at Werribee Park, Victoria, winning the acquisitive Wyndham City Council Award. Most recently she was commissioned to produce the sculpture Quarry by the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Neil Frazer’s paintings traverse the terrain between abstraction and fi guration. Rocky outcrops and shadowy chasms into which the viewer is drawn dissolve into richly textured abstract passages of virtuoso painting as we approach the canvas. Eroded cliff faces in a harsh palette of desert reds, browns and greens are mirrored in still billabongs, in which the refl ected sky has been drained of all colour by the searing heat. In other images, wild southern coastlines betray the timeless encroachment of the sea on eroded shore. There is a seductive physicality in these paintings. Built-up layers of paint encrust the canvas creating a tactile attraction that bridges the gulf between sight and touch. By contrast, the absence of information in the crisp white areas of sky and water allows the viewer to complete the picture using their own experience and imagination. The grandeur and scale of Frazer’s subjects resonates with romantic notions familiar from that particular tradition of landscape painting in which the plight of the adventurous soul is shown in all its ruggedness but also in all its tenderness. Yet Frazer’s dramatic images could only have been made by an artist experienced as an abstract painter and able to bring a 21st Century eye and sensibility to his subject matter. Born in Canberra in 1961, Neil Frazer grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand. In 1984 he completed a Fine Arts degree at the University of Canterbury’s Ilam School of Fine Art in Christchurch before going on to study at the Studio Art School in New York. After returning to New Zealand he received the prestigious Francis Hodgkins Fellowship. Frazer moved to Sydney in 2000. He continues to exhibit in both Australia and New Zealand and is represented in major collections including Macquarie Bank and the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu as well as numerous private collections throughout Australia and New Zealand.
John Pule was born in 1962. He began his career as a poet and novelist and expanded his practice in the late 1980s and early 1990s to include drawing, printmaking, painting, performance and fi lm. Born on the coral atoll of Niue, Pule migrated to Auckland, New Zealand, at a young age. The experiences of migration and dislocation, as well as the exploration of his Niuean cultural heritage, continue to act as catalysts for Pule’s practice. Today Pule is recognised as one of the Pacifi c’s most signifi cant artists. Recurring symbols and motifs in his work include hybrid bird-like lizards, botanical motifs, birds and clouds, the Christian cross and the church, and his own poetry. Pule combines Niuean motifs with recognisable Polynesian and Western symbols in a personal response to the colonisation of the Pacifi c and the broader issues of displacement, migration and return. In Pule’s painting, For Ceremonial Occasions, Polynesian and Western iconography merge together as a series of small fi gures that form a processional; carrying winged creatures and a large fi sh head between the ‘cloud’ formations which have long been a motif in the artist’s work. This moving between clouds in Pule’s painting is almost like a celestial upward march, passing a lone chapel and leading fi nally to a single throne. The reference to Christian imagery is clear in this painting, however so are the icons of Polynesian art- the blending of these acts not as a divisive visual statement, but rather an illustration of the struggle required to reach a higher plain. John Pule has exhibited extensively across the Asia–Pacifi c region and internationally since he began painting in 1987. Important solo exhibitions in New Zealand include Dazzling Worlds, Gow Langsford Gallery, in 2004; and People get ready, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, in 2000. In 2004, he participated in Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacifi c at the Asia Society, New York. He has recently co-authored a book with noted anthropologist Nicholas Thomas, entitled Hiapo: Past and Present in Niuean Barkcloth 2005. His novels include The Shark that Ate the Sun (1992) and Burn My Head in Heaven (1998).
Simon Strong’s images appear as theatrical constructs inextricably linked to human emotion and interaction. They host a sense of desire, longing, excess and at times futility, whereby the viewer is seduced into entering a world defi ned by nature and artifi ce. It is through these ideas that Strong’s images have evolved. The theme of regeneration and its obvious associations with life and death emerge as some of the most poetic and refl ective elements in the artists work. This is most obvious in the work Portrait of Taya, one of the most recent images produced by the artist. A female portrait formed from burnt tree stumps sits prominently in the foreground, while an apocalyptic hue bleaches the sky behind her. However, this sense of decay is opposed by freshly blossoming fl ora and foliage seemingly bursting through the fi gure’s burnt and charcoaled skin. In this image Strong comments very clearly on natural resilience, regeneration and rebirth- a natural cycle entrenched in the Australian ecology and most certainly in the Australian psyche. Simon Strong has been included in numerous group shows including FX in Contemporary Photography, McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, Phantasia, the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, Snap Freeze: Still Life Now, the TarraWarra Museum of Art and A Fragile State, Martin Browne Fine Art. Strong’s works are represented in private collections in Sydney, Melbourne and New York as well as Artbank and the National Gallery, Victoria.
Since winning the 1993 Moet and Chandon Prize, Tim Maguire has been consistently at the forefront of Australian painting. His large scale images of fl owers, sensual and luscious yet on the verge of disintegration and decay, caught the public imagination and have since become amongst the most recognized images in contemporary Australian art. The fl owers were followed by the lush, vivid berry paintings and other-worldly cacti, succulents, pollarded trees and pussy willow. Most recently added to the artist’s oeuvre is the falling snow imagery which featured strongly in his solo museum exhibition Snow, Water and Flowers at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. Despite the complexity of Maguire’s painting technique, they are certainly not mere exercises in colour, but rather a deeply thought out comment on painting in the age of mechanical reproduction. Traces of solvents, happenstance and the mark of the artist’s hand are ever evident in Maguire’s works. In many cases even Maguire’s choice of imagery (fl owers and berries) belies a connection to subjects strongly embedded in the historical cannon of still life painting. This tension between painting as tradition and painting as contemporary critique is displayed suitably in the marks left by the solvents on Maguire’s works, as a signifi er of disrupting convention – the status-quo. Also seen by the artist as an integral part of his practice, Maguire’s digital pigment prints offer an insight into the colour obsessed nature of the artist’s practice. In the same fashion that he uses colour layers to create his paintings, Maguire employs a similar design to the printed works. With each print consisting of three hand painted fi lms, Maguire literally paints a negative, illustrating the colour percentage for Yellow, Magenta and Cyan. Scanned, compiled and then printed digitally, Maguire’s printed works draw on state of the art digital printing techniques while remaining founded in the intricacies of the artist’s own hand. Tim Maguire’s work is held in all major Australian public collections as well as in numerous private collections in Australia and overseas. In 2008, a critically acclaimed solo museum exhibition of Maguire’s digital pigment prints was shown at the renowned Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Also in 2008/09 Tim Maguire was featured in Optimism: Contemporary Australia, at GoMA, QLD.
Alexander McKenzie considers art as a medium between the visible and invisible worlds, where the visual journey provokes an interior one. Yet the artist’s paintings are not allegories in the traditional sense: they depend neither on a pre-determined narrative, nor a particular geographical setting but on personal experience and emotional response. In McKenzie’s paintings there are two planes at work: the actual and the alternate, the physical and the mystical, where grand and romantic landscapes echoing the 19th century search for the Sublime are punctuated with the at times awkward placement of 21st century motifs; power lines, telephone booths and fl ag poles- subtly hidden in paintings such as The Constant Gardener. Whist in other works, such as Burn and Spiral, McKenzie depicts the beginnings of a fi erce inferno, paradoxically frozen in the dark, damp landscape. With interventions such as these, the artist unsettles the landscape in its most traditional sense, offering a position between the spiritual attitude with which so much landscape painting was historically imbued and the contemporary cynicism towards such idealism and romance. Alexander McKenzie has exhibited extensively in Australia and the U.K. He has been a four time fi nalist in the Archibald Prize and has also been a fi nalist on numerous occasions in both the Wynne and Dobell prizes. McKenzie’s work is held in major collections including Macquarie Bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Park Hyatt Melbourne, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, London as well as in private collections in Australia, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Hong Kong and the USA.
Linde Ivimey’s instantly recognisable and commanding sculptures have caught the imagination of the public, collectors and critics with their mix of rawness and elegance. At their core, Ivimey’s works are highly personal. They are explorations of the artist’s experiences, meetings and interactions, however, Ivimey’s unique vision is bound to histories and mythologies- surrogate vehicles for Ivimey’s own stories. Known by the childhood nickname ‘Bunny’, Ivimey has often used this term in a visually literal sense. The ‘Bunny’ character has had numerous incarnations, most recently in the sculpture Membrum Donum (The Organ Donor). Since her landmark solo exhibition Close to the Bone at Heide Museum of Art (2003), Linde Ivimey has emerged as one of Australia’s most intriguing and thought-provoking contemporary sculptors. In 2007, Ivimey was the subject of the ABC TV documentary Artist at Work: Linde Ivimey. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, Newcastle Region Art Gallery and the Holmes à Court collection. Currently in production is a monograph on the artist’s work which will accompany a large survey show of Ivimey’s practice at the University of Queensland Art Museum in 2012.