Posts Tagged ‘Niagara Galleries


Group Exhibition @ Niagara Galleries

David Keeling - Memorial DriveWednesday, 4 August 2010

Dear Diary,

[Group Exhibitions – June/August 2010 – cont. from previous entry]

PPS: These group shows also reminded me of a recent sculpture exhibition at the Niagara Galleries, Can’t See the Wood for the Trees. The exhibition profiled the versatility of Niagara’s artists, who, apart from Robert Bridgewater, are predominantly associated with two- rather than three-dimensional artworks. While Bridgewater’s imposing, large-scale Midnight Special [$44,000] dominated the space (though I still prefer his earlier, finely chiselled works), the exhibition also included works by Angela Brennan, Jenny Christmann, Belinda Fox, Wolpa Wanambi, and Rick Amor, whose sculpture was recently profiled at a one-man-show at the McClelland Gallery [price range: $11,000-$13,200 for smaller-scale editioned bronzes]. The biggest surprise of the exhibition was reserved for a large work by David Keeling, which consisted of a row of white-washed trees. Numerous branches ended in finely-painted landscape miniatures, which are well-suited for the artist’s precise and meticulous style of painting. The dark subtext of the sculpture – as well as the meaning of the title, Memorial Drive – becomes apparent upon realisation that each miniature is shaped like a car mirror. The sculpture is a most imaginative and serene tribute to road fatalities; each miniature relates to the scenes of the accidents [$15,000].

Matt Calvert @ Werribee, 2005Having experienced a road fatality in my own family, I have not been moved so much by a work of art on this tragic subject since stumbling upon a sculpture by Matt Calvert at the Helen Lempriere Sculpture Award, Werribee Park, in 2005, which was composed of broken break-, indicator-, and headlights…

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]


Rick Amor Sculpture @ McClelland Gallery

Rick Amor Walking Man 1998Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dear Diary,

Another artist whose foray into the third dimension has been recently profiled in an exhibition is Rick Amor, though his engagement with sculpture is more consistent rather than Firth-Smith’s episodic approach.

The exhibition at the McClelland Gallery concentrates on this well known, yet perhaps little examined aspect of the artist’s oeuvre. His sculpture is very much an extension of his paintings, and Amor continues his exploration of landscape and the human condition in his three-dimensional works.

Therefore, we see the proliferation of dark tree trunks, which are of pivotal compositional importance in his landscape paintings; shadowy figure of a running man, which makes a fleeting but memorable appearance in his paintings and drawings; and the figure of a stocky businessman, whose pensive tilt of the head and heavy sloping shoulders seemed to be weighed down by the problems of the entire world as well as by his own psychological dilemmas. The configuration of objects within the exhibition space likewise recreates the motives and narratives of his paintings.

Rick Amor Relic 2006There are also various representations of dogs, which seem to have sprung forth directly from the canvasses, where they appear standing, sleeping, or chasing their tails. Amor’s canine gallery is supplemented by the artist’s exploration of the metamorphosis between man and dog, which emphatically recalls ancient Egyptian artefacts.

The sculptures are executed in black patinated bronze from clay or alabaster moulds. The artist’s finger marks, as he pushed and shaped the malleable medium, have been preserved in the casts. In this sense, the ghost of Auguste Rodin haunts this gallery, though some of his human and canine figures approach the attenuated silhouettes of Alberto Giacometti.

The sculptures are displayed in a darkened room, setting the pensive, meditative mood for the exhibition, which also includes two giant drawings on the scale one normally would not see at Melbourne’s  Niagara Galleries. The Dog and The Runner, both of 1990, correspond semantically to the sculpted three-dimensional figures in the exhibition. They are drawn in charcoal with the enviable sense of verve, energy, and artistic confidence, representing Amor as the undoubted master of the black and white medium.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]


Song Ling @ Niagara Galleries

Song Ling Tiger Headed Hat 2009

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dear Diary,

I would readily sum up Song Ling’s exhibition at the Niagara Gallery as the exploration of the artist’s identity – not an Australian one (Koala, 2009) or Chinese one (Childhood, 2009), but that of a citizen of the cosmopolitan nation of artists.

His well-composed and colourful paintings appropriate the American Pop Art (Lichtenstein’s ben-dots), Chinese social-realist propaganda art, and Western-style gestural figuration. There is even an Aboriginal dot-painting motif detectable in some of his works.

Song Ling Adventurer 2009 The artist inevitably references the commercialisation of Chinese culture in the images of Buddha, oriental ceramics, and the eternally smiling Beneton-style Chinese children. The paintings featuring catsand dogs display Song Ling’s knowledge of animal kinetics. They also reference Chinese mythology, which carries on to the artist’s extensive use of birds – another utilisation of a Chinese symbol. And while no contemporary exhibition seems complete nowadays without a skull (Conversation 1 and 2), this universal symbol of death and transience is particularly poignant in Ling’s paintings, given the Buddhist take on death and rebirth. The skulls dissolve In Still Life series into shapeless ink-blots, which reference simultaneously Western psychology (Rorschach test) and Eastern aesthetics (calligraphy and chance).

Song Ling Conversation 2 2009In spite of the seemingly haphazard placement of elements, eclectic mixture of cultural influences, and diverse painterly techniques, paintings undoubtedly work as a whole in terms of composition and colour balance. Looser painterly technique and drips of pigment inject a feeling of energy and vitality into every work. One cannot help but leave the exhibition feeling joyous and uplifted.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment.]

Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

April 2019
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