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Apr
11

Rosslynd Piggott @ TarraWarra

PIGGOTT Air of flower clouds etched glass tube and card boxWednesday, 27 April 2011

Rosslynd Piggott @ TarraWarra Museum of Art

One of the advantages of being intimately involved with Australian art world for the last twenty years is an ability to follow, compare, contrast, analyse and consider the development of careers of Australian artists. I am writing this as I am looking at Rosslynd Piggott’s exhibition Dividing Infinity: A Room for Painting at the TarraWarra Museum of Art. I would readily describe Piggott as one of Australia’s most imaginative and thought-provoking conceptual and installation artists. Her solo exhibition, Suspended Breath, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1998, is still indelibly imprinted in my memory as one of my major revelations in contemporary Australian art; and a concurrent realisation and confirmation that conceptual and installation art are legitimate forms of art and artistic expression in the pluralistic context of contemporary art.

PIGGOTT_Double bough_2007_alteredHer current exhibition at the TWMA gives a glimpse, an echo of the works that so impressed me at that exhibition. Air of Flower Clouds of 2002 is an elegant glass vessel, with an etched inscription telling us that it contains air, collected under a cherry blossom tree in Japan. Whether or not this is indeed the fact is perhaps beyond the point, and this is virtually impossible to verify: the air would escape and evaporate the moment we open this delicate-looking vial. However, the very evocation, the very idea of preserving a scent of air (no doubt influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s efforts to bottle Parisian air for a French expatriate millionaire who claimed to have everything money could buy), is inspiring, thought-provoking, and strangely uplifting – as is the sublime idea itself of collecting air as a memory of sites and places you visited rather than more ubiquitous photo shots.

PIGGOTT_Void blossom_2007-8_alteredPiggott’s exhibition at the NGV was filled with imaginative and clever marvels of this kind. The current show at the TWMA, on the other hand, is dominated by recent painting. They are likewise sublime, meditative and beautiful, feminine even, covered with skeins upon skeins of delicate washes and glazes; their floating masses anchored by stronger compositional elements of design work. Although these paintings are perhaps interpretations in paint of the ‘bottled air’ concept (they are indeed breath-taking upon a closer and prolonged contemplation), I guess purely because they are paintings, such a traditional medium, they lacked for me the originality and inventiveness of her conceptual installations and three-dimensional objects.

PIGGOTT_Night blossom & double black holes_2007-8_alteredFurthermore – and this sentiment recurs throughout these pages – it is a pity that an artist of such undoubted talent chose to exhibit in a public gallery space works that would be just as ‘at home’ on the walls of a commercial gallery. I always feel that when artists basically clear out their (or their galleries’) stock room in order to whip out a show in a public gallery, they miss out on a rare and privileged opportunity to create something unique, special, and non-commercial, that – like the amazing exhibition of 1998 – would stay in minds of gallery visitors forever, as opposed to blending in with any other countless exhibition the artist might have had in her respective commercial spaces.

http://twma.com.au/

http://www.rosslyndpiggott.com/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgement.]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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