Posted by: TwoOne
Here is a sneaky peak at my work for my upcoming exhibition, I hope that you like it. I am
currently back in my second home Melbourne and I am looking forward to seeing you at my
upcoming show “OUTSIDERS’ by TWOONE at the Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood,
Melbourne, Australia. 10th until 19th October 2014.
Posted by: KOAN
NEXT AT BACKWOODS GALLERY
OUTSIDER by TWOONE
With a vivid pink nimbus surrounding its head, Hiroyasu Tsuri’s (TWOONE) ‘X-ray of a preying mind’ prompt us to reflect upon the sun-god of the Egyptian pantheon, Ra. Ra, a man with the head of a hawk, was the King of the Gods and patron to the pharaohs, and considered by many as the universal creator. As with modern civilisations, prehistoric cultures linked animals with aspects of humanity. The hawk, a bird of prey, ruled the air and therefore became a symbol for the sun. Important too were the lion, whose mane held the colours of solar rays, and the ram, whose spiraling horns represented the waxing of the sun’s strength.
That there is religious iconography present in his work at all is somewhat of a misnomer as TWOONE has long considered his hybrid creatures to be ‘psychological portraits’, a reflection of the inner characteristics of a particular being, rather than a direct mythological or religious position. Yet the very nature of his portraits, with their spherical halos, their sun discs and their triumphant postures, recalls the emotionally charged art of The Renaissance and Baroque periods.
In his formative years in Japan, reference material came by the way of National Geographic magazines, which perhaps accounts for the ties to these deities, but what has shaped TWOONE’s immediately recognisable figures over the course of his career is his commitment to understanding the limits of the materials with which he works in order to progress his mark-making. His compulsion to push a medium – any medium – sets him apart from the majority of his contemporaries. He had to establish himself after moving from Japan to Australia in 2004, and reestablish himself again since relocating to Germany at the end of 2013. As an outsider in each of these countries, where language has always been an obstacle, TWOONE has turned to his art practice into his voice.
With the introduction of Perspex and fluorescent light in this series, TWOONE has again discovered a new process by which to define his subjects. His treatment of paint on the Perspex surface is in stark contrast to that on his canvases. Working in reverse, TWOONE builds up the paint before pushing, pulling and wiping it away to reveal the image. It has required him to be more physically instinctive and responsive than ever before. It has also left a lot to chance, particularly the tonal range left by a smudge or a scrape that could never be completely controlled and is only revealed in full under the fluorescent lighting. As they glow beyond the outer edges of the frame, these paintings appear to not only to mimic an x-ray in their skeletal framework, but to again fortify the ties to sun gods of light and warmth as radiating beings.
Be it through his large-scale wall works, his deftly crafted ceramic busts or his prolific painting practice, TWOONE’s distinctive take on humanity and the animal kingdom is profound. It is conceivable that TWOONE is intentionally recording these figures as creatures to be worshipped, much like the deities of ancient civilisations. It is also possible that these works are in fact a subconscious, spiritual belief played out through his art practice. Whatever the case may be, TWOONE is an artist resisting categorisation.
HIROYASU TSURI (TWOONE)
Hiroyasu Tsuri (TWOONE) was born in Yokohama, Japan. In 2004 he moved to Melbourne, Australia and in 2013 he again moved, this time to Berlin, Germany. As an outsider in each of these countries, where language has always been an obstacle, TWOONE has turned to his art practice into his voice. Drawing and crafting have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. He gained an early interest in art though skate board graphics and graffiti culture.
In Australia, TWOONE quickly became a prominent part of the rapidly-growing local street art scene, and in 2004 he received diploma of Visual Art New Media from Swinburne TAFE. He began exhibiting in numerous group exhibitions throughout Australia and overseas including at Urban Art, Gallery Scene (Tokyo), Wooden Foundation, No Vacancy Gallery (Melbourne), Space Invaders, National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), In The Absence of Man, China Heights Gallery (Sydney), Ritual, Causey Contemporary, (Brooklyn, NYC) & Au Courant, Tim Olsen Gallery (Sydney). In 2008, TWOONE held his first solo exhibition at Bus Gallery & Global Gallery in Melbourne and Sydney.
He followed this with a solo show at No Vacancy Gallery (Melbourne) in 2008. Since then, he has continued to hold regular solo exhibitions including at Gorker Gallery (Melbourne) 2010, No Vacancy (Melbourne) 2011 and Backwoods Gallery (Melbourne) 2012. A true masterpiece, be it painting, music or cinema, invites its audience into a hidden universe of symbolism, calling for the exploration of its nuanced subtlety and in return rewarding with insight into the artist’s heart and mind. As individual experience and interpretations add to this universe, the resulting cultural dialogue builds a mythology that deepens and extends its original intent.
TWOONE, explores these ideas in his work. TWOONE’s work is informed by the Nietzschean dichotomy and Western psychology synthesized with Zen philosophy and aesthetics. “Within us all there is a battle,” says TWOONE. “The form of fighting and the ferocity is what defines us.” Private commissions by TWOONE include May’s Lane Street Art Project, Sydney, 2008, Two Blue Blocks, Melbourne Central Railway Station, July 2009, 99m long mural collaboration with Scott ‘Bonsai’ Neoh, Grand Lane Project, Perth and Art & About, Sydney 2012. In 2012, TWOONE was a finalist in the Metro Art Award.
Posted by: KOAN
NEXT AT BACKWOODS GALLERY
This September, Backwoods Gallery is proud to present A Study of Hair, the third installment in what is to be a decade-long project. A Study of… is a series of group exhibitions in which local and international artists are invited to present a contemporary interpretation of a motif drawn from art history.
The 2012 and 2013 exhibitions focused on two of the most important vectors of emotional communication: hands and eyes. This year’s theme, hair, is the most challenging of the series so far, and promises to generate an even more diverse range of interpretations. It is perhaps because hair is one of the most visible signs of our animal nature that it has become one of the primary ways in which we express our desire for artifice. Hair frames the face, and whether it is used to distinguish or to disguise its function is never neutral. No other part of the body is manipulated in as wide a range of ways or subjected to the same degree of public scrutiny.
In the history of art, hair is one of the clearest indications of the evolution of human culture from one decade to the next, and one of the key ways in which artists identify the social identity of their subject. This year’s artists will include C215, Dave Kinsey, Faith47, Inkie, Jonathan Guthmann, Mark Bode, Merda, Miso, ROA, Stephen Ives, Shohei Otomo, TwoOne, Usugrow, Yusk Imai and Alexander Mitchell.
In its completed form, the A Study Of… project will document over 350 artworks from all corners of the globe. The curator’s intent is to create an historical source with enough breadth to contextualize a generation of artists, many of whom work primarily outside the framework of established institutions. Whilst Mitchell wishes to leave the thematic path of the project open to evolution, he has indicated that the series will include studies of human anatomy, color, and movement.
We hope that you can join us for the opening of A STUDY OF HAIR on Friday the 26th of September.
A STUDY OF HAIR will be on display until Sunday the 5th of October and admission is free.
Backwoods Gallery, 25 Easey Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia.
A STUDY OF HAIR - preview by TWOONE
A STUDY OF HAIR - preview by YUSK IMAI
A STUDY OF HAIR - preview by ROA
A STUDY OF HAIR - preview by Alexander Mitchell
A STUDY OF HAIR - preview by FAITH47
A STUDY OF HAIR - preview by MARK BODE
Posted by: KOAN
NEXT AT BACKWOODS GALLERY
Acclaimed Brazilian artist, Yusk Imai (YUSK) returns to Melbourne after a three-year hiatus for his forthcoming solo exhibition Oblivion. In that time Imai has exhibited within galleries, at art fairs and on the streets across Europe and South America.
Widely regarded for employing a contemporary view of the Viennese Secession artists, Imai’s most recent series sees him wrestle with the notion of oblivion as a fractured state of unconsciousness.
Much like the collection of short stories of the same title, Oblivion by influential author David Foster Wallace, that expose the rawness of humanity through surreal landscapes and nightmarish tales reeking of maniacal behaviour, insomnia, suffering and self-defeat, Imai’s paintings and drawings lure us into state of self-consciousness and questioning. These ostensibly post-apocalyptic works tread warily between sci-fi apparitions, threatening premonitions and horror stills. Like a séance, they speak to Dali’s technique for creative thinking; a thinking that was founded on the moments in which we begin to fall asleep. When this sleeping pattern is interrupted and we are awoken, we find the subconscious rise to the conscious as a definitive form through either image or word.
While the works in Oblivion have a definitive starting point, they materialise organically. Beginning as a simple line, circle, or pattern, Imai’s hand is governed by the impromptu recollection of forgotten dreams and mislaid memories. It moves in reaction only to the mark that follows the last. Like the part human, part robotic hands within his images which appear to orchestrate the spectacles that unfold before us, Imai’s acts as if it too is guided by a puppeteer – an ascendant body, be that a ruling power or spiritual leader.
What may seem like a risky game of ‘chance’ is anything but. Imai is an artist whose feet are firmly planted on the ground. Over the course of his career he has increasingly distanced himself from the use of preparatory images when undertaking his work, revealing a self-trust that not many of us can claim to demonstrate. What this trust uncovers as a result is a very deep and personal introspection of a unique mind.
We hope that you can join us for the opening of OBLIVION on Friday the 22nd of August. OBLIVION will be on display until Sunday the 31st of August and admission is free.
Backwoods Gallery, 25 Easey Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia.
Yusk Imai was born in the U.S.A. in 1982, to a Japanese descendent family. At the age of 6 months his family migrated to São Paulo where he lived until recently. Since 2007, Yusk has exhibited extensively within galleries, at art fairs and on the street across Europe, U.S.A., Australia and South America.
He is currently undertaking a two-month residency in Melbourne, Australia, before travelling to Tokyo, where he is planning a new collection of illustrations based on Japanese folk lore and then Europe, where he will establish a studio.
LOST OR FOUND. INK ON PAPER. 1500MM X 1500MM
DISCIPLINE DEMON (LAST DEMON BEFORE YOKAI SERIES 2015-2016). INK ON PAPER. 298MM X 420MM
REMEMBERED. INK ON PAPER. 1350MM X 910MM
MEMORIES. ACRYLIC ON PAPER. 1285 X 760MM
EMPTY. INK ON PAPER. 545 X 450MM
UNTITLED. INK AND AERSOL ON WOOD. 1000MM X 2000MM
PERMANENT STATE 2. ACRYLIC ON RICE PAPERBOARD. 243 X 273MM
INTRODUCTION 1. ACRYLIC ON RICE PAPERBOARD. 243 X 273MM
Posted by: KOAN
NEXT AT BACKWOODS GALLERY
Having not exhibited in Melbourne for over a decade, Numskull’s long awaited return also marks his first showing with Backwoods Gallery. Bright Lights is a series of paintings and sculptures that continue on from his recent residency at the Museums Quartier in Vienna where he celebrated our memories of popular comic book characters by reinterpreting them as a collection of museum busts.
Much like the works from Vienna, where the compositional arrangements of objects partially masked the identity of the characters, this new suite aims to subjugate the obvious. In Bright Lights, the immediately recognisable figures have disappeared. In their place are silhouettes of headless beings devoid of any distinctive personality, anonymous and statuesque. Their bodies are jolted by the blows of arrows piercing their skin as they float amongst a wreckage of irregular patterned objects.
Are these creatures under attack, and if so, by whom?
What is the reason for their undoing? Numskull’s methodology is driven by a life long fascination with social conditioning, philosophy and the impulse of desire. In particular, it brings into question the notion of perfection. Numskull’s aspirations to create the perfect painting – a futile task given one’s ambition to continually better themselves and their practice – begins by way of finding a harmonious balance of formal elements, as would be the case for the majority of painters across the history of art. What stands him apart from his contemporaries however, is his ability to break down the structure of what would otherwise be considered a resolved work in order to provoke his audience to reflect on the beauty in its imperfections. In this way we begin to comprehend Numskull’s intentions of addressing not only the social behaviors of the subjects within the picture plane, but also the subject outside of it – the audience – by forming a participatory interaction between both.
This is avant-garde story telling. Through suggestion, provocation and disguise Numskull turns us upon ourselves by implying that we, in fact, are the headless beings in these works, pierced by the poison darts of our own expectations, influences and longing for perfection.
Numskull is a Sydney-based artist whose practice spans painting, sculpture, illustration and large-scale murals. His involvement in the graffiti and street art movements is highly acclaimed and has led to numerous international exhibitions and performances, in both public spaces and private galleries.
More recently, Numskull has focused his energies on his fine art practice where his unique imagery can be seen as a collage of his life studies, drawing attention to colour hierarchy, typography, abstract heroism and idolism within modern contemporary culture. Numskull’s work is held in private collections throughout Amsterdam, Australia, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and Vienna.
6-10pm, Friday 1st of August, 2014
On Display until Sunday 10th of August, 2014
25 Easey Street Collingwood, Victoria Australia
Posted by: KOAN
Press Release : Modern-Classic by Shun Kawakami at Backwoods Gallery
That the art and design practices of Shun Kawakami are inextricably linked shouldn’t surprise those familiar with his work, for he is, more than anything, a visual communicator whom cares not to be defined by the one marker. Born in Fukagawa, Tokyo in 1977, Kawakami’s creative output spans art, design, video, music, installation and spatial interventions. His aesthetic language leans as heavily on negative space as it does the depiction of a particular subject. Through his masterful equilibrium of light and shade, the existent and non-existent appear to intertwine, neither fighting for nor hiding from distinction from the other, rather melding as a proclamation of artist’s poised state.
And it is in this balanced state that we find the translucency, the grain, the texture and the reflectivity of the ground material so crucial in forming the image as an object in itself.One immediately senses energies at play here, both real and imagined. The physicality of mark-making in the inclusion of calligraphic strokes and splatters of a liquid, albeit digital, hint at movements driven from Kawakami’s subconscious, at pace and perhaps even before our eyes, as if we are witnessing a transient moment.
These dream-like, organic subjects could be stills from a video – a fragment of a greater landscape that we are familiar with, but cannot place. In this way, there is a fleeting sense that Kawakami is provoking us through these singular marks of permanence by suggesting they are but one part of something much grander. In doing so he is manufacturing suspense in the drama of his much broader artistic practice.Yet, in complete contrast, these are settling works. They speak to us quietly, without urgency, instead inviting and encouraging the luxury that time spent will afford us when viewing them.
Shun Kawakami is a highly awarded art director & artist living in Tokyo. He is also the founder and chief of Artless Inc. Kawakami has won several prestigious international awards including NY ADC: Young Gun 6, NY Art Director’s Club (ADC), NY Type Directors Club (TDC), The One Show and the London International Award. In Japan, Kawakami has won numerous awards including the Tokyo Type Directors Club (TDC), iF Design, Good Design Award and the Tokyo Interactive Ad Award. His professional membership includes the New York Art Directors Club (NY ADC) and the Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc.In 2008, Kawakami was selected to participate in the Kansei-Japan Design Exhibition” at Les Arts Décoratifs (Musée du Louvre, Paris), sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to commemorate the 150th year of Japan-France exchange. For this occasion, he produced a unique art book. In 2010, he won the Gold Award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival (video for a TV channel in Finland (ch4).
Interview with Shun Kawakami & High-resolution images available upon request
Opening night 6-10pm, Saturday 19th of July, 2014
On Display until Sunday 27th of July, 2014
NoVacancy Project Space
The Atrium, Federation Square
Posted by: KOAN
Press Release : Drawing Blood by ENO at Backwoods Gallery
An interest in the controversy surrounding early 20th century painter Charles. F. Goldie forms the basis for Drawing Blood, a body of work by Eno (Mikaere Gardiner) that confronts dogmas surrounding truth, taboo and the effects of colonization. Goldie’s paintings of Maori chiefs and princesses were a far cry from the typical portraiture of that era.
Goldie saw a race dying as a result of war and colonisation. Despite their precise detail, his works were considered by many critics at the time to be anthropological studies that belonged in a museum, not an art gallery. Yet these works are now regarded as the pinnacle of high art of that era, and Goldie himself as one of New Zealand’s most important artists.Eno draws on Goldie’s enduring will to capture the truth by reinterpreting the often solemn, weathered expressions in his subjects as a device to illuminate the dichotomy between the throwaway nature of celebrity culture and the retrospective acknowledgment of the disdained.
In Eno’s works we find the facial Ta moko (a traditional tattoo practice symbolic of high status) have been embellished with sailor tattoos – at once a candid remark on the harrowing effects that European colonisation had on the traditional values and cultural beliefs of the Maori people and a wry comment on the passing nature of trends in contemporary society. Having recently begun Ta moko, Eno fuses both his painting and tattooing practices to investigate the cultural significance of his Maori and European genealogy.
Acclaimed for his large scale murals, Drawing Blood sees the artist work on an intimate scale, using acrylic paints, tattoo inks and aerosol across various sized paintings on industrial boxing card as well as a number of smaller sculptures that reference Pataka, traditional Maori houses used to store food.
Born in Wanganui, New Zealand in 1986, Mikaere Gardiner’s career began at the age of 8 when he sold his first etching. Both his mother and father were practicing artists in his formative years and encouraged him to pursue his interest in cultural identity through the fabric of Maori traditions, both historical and contemporary.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Western Institute of Technology, New Plymouth, NZ in 2010 and has gone on to exhibit extensively throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe. In 2012, Eno was awarded the Eike Boehme Foundation Artist in Residency in Vienna, Austria. This August he will participate in the Kolor Kathmandu Artist in Residence Street Art Festival, before undertaking a further residency through AS220 (New York, USA) in January 2015.
Interview with ENO & High-resolution images available upon request
Opening night 6-10pm, Friday 19th of July, 2014
On Display until Sunday 27th of July, 2014
25 Easey Street
Posted by: KOAN
SHIDA. INNER MYTHS. JULY 4 – 13TH.
Opening next Friday at Backwoods Gallery. Inner Myths is a large collection of new paintings and sculptural works by Australia’s most prolific young street artist, Shida.
MORE INFORMATION HERE.
Here is a preview of some of the pieces from the Inner Myth. A full catalogue of work is available on request. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
MOVEMENT 3, salvaged hardwood and screws, 2014
THE DARK POOL. acrylic and enamel on salvaged wood, 2014.
CEREMONY. acrylic and aerosol on salvaged wood.
THE WAKER. Acrylic and aerosol on salvaged wood, 2014.
A CARNAL PLACE. Acrylic and aerosol on wood.
VISIONS. Enamel on wood, 2014.
Posted by: KOAN
Fred Fowler ‘New Landscapes’
by Emily McCulloch Childs
Recently I was at an exhibition opening of art from the APY Lands, a vast, stunningly beautiful and largely unknown (to outsiders) area of Australia. A region of big skies and open land, hidden rockholes filled with creation beings, occasional mountain ranges and desert oak forests, a land still alive and still sung. An Aṉaŋu cultural leader who had made a particularly moving speech during the opening spoke to me afterwards of the ecological catastrophes affecting his people’s lands. This was the first thing he spoke to me about, with a sense of great urgency and despair. To those not so familiar with the only true Australian art, this may have seemed just one aspect of the arts’ subject matter or of the exhibition itself. But it wasn’t: it was the central theme: underpinning all the complex law and religion, the colour and beauty and humour and creation stories. The man was reaching out to me as a writer and curator who could perhaps help educate the rest of Australia, and the world, about the battles against the areas of a death, spreading, a formidable disease. Its name? Buffalo grass. That seemingly innocuous stuff we have as our lawns, outside our suburban homes.
Due to previous art research trips through The Lands, I knew first-hand the devastation brought about by introduced camels, feral cats, rabbits and other pests. The feral camels, over a million of them, kill everything: they strip leaves and bark from trees, effectively ring barking them. They die in the waterholes, the lifeblood of these areas, destroying the entire eco-system for everything from the little marsupials, like the ninu (bilby) and the little birds, right up to the malu (kangaroo) and kalaya (emu).
Aṉaŋu are ethno-botanists, they know complex connections of plants, animals, water and land; the ways in which birds and animals spread plant seeds. So when animals die, plants die. Everything dies. But the buffalo grass: this was something new again. Traditional, highly developed Aṉaŋu land management techniques weren’t working. ‘You can’t burn it; it doesn’t burn.’ the leader said to me. It was destroying the native grasses, another major life source. His words stayed with me.
Speaking with him, I was reminded of a dear Aṉaŋu elder and artist I had the privilege to work with, the late Tjilpi R. Kankapankatja. He was a genius level ethno-botanist, whom scientists from ANU travelled to study with. He knew the names, medicinal and other properties of thousands of plants. He painted these, in paint on canvas, with love and joy. His works were delightfully, superficially naïve, but underlying their directness were decades of extensive complex botanical study and knowledge. He was an example of how art can encompass and communicate many seemingly disparate modes of knowledge.
The title of Fred Fowler’s exhibition, New Landscapes, is simple, but telling. Australia is one of the oldest continents on earth, with the oldest continuous cultures. But for the Europeans who arrived here in the eighteenth century, it was a strange and new land. For their descendants, it still is, in many ways. The land of Australia is written in our historical literature as being ‘strange’ ‘foreign’ ‘other’, most of it ‘desert’ ‘dry’ ‘arid’ ‘hot’ and uninhabitable. Its ‘remoteness’ is commented on: but it is ‘remote’ only depending on where you stand, where you come from. If you are Aṉaŋu, the APY Lands are in fact the centre of the universe; Melbourne and Sydney are remote, strange, foreign and often harsh and unforgiving places. This land has been demonized as much as its original inhabitants, in a way that is inescapably linked.
It took European-Australian artists over a hundred years to even begin to capture some of the reality of the Australian landscape, and to cease to see it through overtly European eyes. The landscapes of Heysen, Roberts and Streeton were groundbreaking in their evocation of the bush, its misty blue palette, or dry red earth under a blazing blue sky. Yet their work was of the heroic bushman; an Anglo-Celtic or Saxon male hero, against all odds, surviving in a harsh environment. Man sought to dominate and tame the bush, not to live with it (although Streeton, to his great credit, was an early environmentalist and protector of Australia’s old-growth forests).
It wasn’t until the Antipodean school that such a tranquil, and rather mistaken, telling of settlement and environment began to be challenged. Boyd, Nolan, Williams and Drysdale in particular broke with the conventions of Australian landscape painting and painted a more accurate reflection of the world around them. Boyd included Aboriginal women and their plights in his landscape in his pioneering 1950s ‘Half-Caste Bride’ series. Nolan explored the interior of Australia and revisited the heroic myth, and found that it wasn’t so heroic after all. Williams and Drysdale pushed the boundaries of landscape painting at the time, reflecting the often abstracted character of aspects of the Australian landscape; its angular trees and un-European palette, its rounded, often amorphous red rocks. They introduced black into their landscape palette, evoking the true contrast of the land and its forms, far from a perpetual gentile muted European softness.
QLD/NT SAND MIST. ￼￼Oil on masonite, 2014. 78.4 x 93.6cm. By Fred Fowler.
Fowler’s approach, whilst this series, he says, cannot be understood as conventional landscape painting, reflects the changes that have occurred in our understanding of our environs and the past as non-Indigenous Australians since then. Fowler has, as he says ‘used the vessel of landscape painting to explore ideas about native and invasive species, both animal and human’. His work is subtle, didactic and articulate: the works are neither brutal expressions of a self-aware artists’ frustration with the present state of environmental destruction occurring in this country, nor harshly realistic depictions of racial oppression and the inequality between the colonisers and the subaltern; and yet, nor are they superficially pretty, decorative paintings of trees and bush. They are aesthetically intriguing paintings containing a subtle yet intellectual and empathetic message, with careful composition of colour and form. Strange shapes hover in a colour field, they are animalistic, but not always animals. Some recall collage, parts of skulls, crystals, buildings, trees, birds, ghosts, or abstracted tribal designs.
Despite his good length of time as an exhibiting artist, these new works continue to explore some of Fowler’s background in street art and graffiti; some of the raw, urgent shapes revisit Basquiat whose influence upon the world continues. Often painted in oil stick, occasionally shapes appear like watercolour; the artist’s methodology of his technique reflects his subject. A variety of surfaces are created, some multi-hued, some rough, others smooth. The collage-like shapes often appear either floating or behind the canvas, giving us hints of other worlds, of depths beyond our immediate perception.
FIRE CORAL (COLONIAL MARINE ORGANISM). ￼￼Oil on masonite, 2014. 78.4 x 93.6cm. By Fred Fowler.
The titles reflect the wide-range of Australian environments: ‘Fire Coral (Colonial Marine Organism)’, depicts the fragile, threatened seas, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef with its vast coral systems, the colonial sea trades (fishing, pearling, whaling, trepanging) which brought with them the violent underside of Imperial trade: slavery, prostitution, disease, violence, colonial sea trades which developed into modern day incursions: dredging, mining, over-fishing, shipping, polluting. And the seas as a modern day, unequal battleground over borders.
In creating this series, the artist had considered the work of several other artists working in the field of colonialism and identity. Paola Pivi’s work ‘One Love’, with its depiction of white animals in a colonial type landscape, shown at Queensland’s GOMA, ‘contains the resonance of eighteenth-century European paintings which depicted ‘exotic’ species from disparate geographies, brought to Europe via colonial trade routes for the entertainment of the wealthy. Pivi also underlines the connotations of ‘white’ identity and racist histories.’
The late Yorta Yorta-Scottish artist Lin Onus, one of the most significant artists of his generation, also resonates with Fowler: his work exploring both issues of colonialism and Australian identity often used the symbolism of animals. Onus’ famous depiction of himself and his good mate, gallerist and artist Michael Eather, as ‘X and Ray’, a dingo and a stingray, are amongst the most positive depictions of the mateship across Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples made to date. But it is Onus’ famous ‘Fruit Bats’ that Fowler says has most influenced his current series directly. Defiant statements of anti-colonialism, these clusters of bats, their bodies painted in the rarrk Onus was given permission to use by Arnhem Land artists, take over the most suburban of all Australian signifiers, the Hills Hoist. In typical Onus fashion, the intellect of the artist drove him to conceive the installation using humour, wit and whimsy to catch the viewer off-guard and suspend their political defensive disbelief.
Significantly, Fowler’s New Landscapes series has an engagement with these complex issues of colonialism, identity, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous interactions and issues, without feeling the need to do as so many non-Indigenous artists seem fit, to appropriate Aboriginal art, as a perhaps well-meaning but inadvertently offensive sort of homage. The works in this exhibition are painted in the artist’s own stylistic oeuvre, he has felt no need to cheat, by lifting designs used in paintings from the great artists from the Western Desert or other areas, to give us easy clues as to what they are about.
His landscape subjects comprise broad-ranging themes: ‘The Ecological Society of Australia’ ‘Merging of Diversification’ ‘A Brief History of Colonisation’ which evoke these questions of identity and concerns for the impact of colonising powers upon Indigenous people and lands.
SYDNEY HARBOUR (SUPERBOATS). ￼￼Oil on masonite, 2014. 78.4 x 93.6cm. By Fred Fowler.
Some works are more site-specific, the border of New South Wales and Queensland, a border which brings to my mind the towns of Moree and Boggabilla, as seen in the films of Ivan Sen, who explores the complexity of Indigenous and non-Indigenous identities, particularly amongst youth, and issues of racism. The Bournda Nature Reserve, a national park in New South Wales. And the most famous of all Australian natural landmarks, perhaps with the exception of Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef, one so familiar for its settler architecture that it is almost easy to forget that it is even a site of nature, Sydney Harbour.
Fowler’s new landscapes evoke all that is ancient and beautiful about this land, and simultaneously, subtly, that which is more recent, brutal and confronting. They are a much needed, thoughtful exploration of these issues of land, animals, plants and humans, adding much to the discussion of Australia’s past and its present condition.
Emily McCulloch Childs
Emily McCulloch Childs is an art historian, writer, researcher, publisher and curator, currently undertaking a Ph.D, a post-colonial reading of the northern Australian frontier, at Monash Indigenous Centre. She is the author of several books on Australian art, including co-author of McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art, and co-director of the art company McCulloch & McCulloch and Whistlewood, a home gallery on the Mornington Peninsula.
Email Sales@backwoodsgallery.com to request a digital catalogue of the New Landscapes by Fred Fowler
Posted by: KOAN
There is something inside me,
a dark blue chasm.
Its depths hold a mystery even from me.
Down, inside I explore.
Only to find that I am lost.
An exhibition of new works by artist Shida.
July 4th-13th at Backwoods Gallery.
Opening Friday July 4th, 6-10pm.
25 Easey Street, Collingwood Melbourne.
Posted by: KOAN
Press Release : INNER MYTHS by SHIDA at BACKWOODS GALLERY
Backwoods Gallery is proud to present Inner Myths, a collection of new paintings and sculptural works by Shida.The exhibition is a dynamic record of Shida’s development as an artist who envisions infinite worlds. Considering an array of approaches, through Inner Myths, he synthesises styles as diverse as Science Fiction Art, French Post-Impressionism and Russian Symbolist Art in his depiction of ethereal realities. Influenced by the work of Frank Frazetta, Paul Gauguin, Mikhail Vrubel and Nikolai Kalmakov, for Inner Myths, as Australia’s most prolific young street artist, Shida reinvokes two centuries of art history in his characteristic style.Inner Myths presents a refined body of works, demonstrating that Shida is an asset to Australian contemporary art, who is constantly challenging himself against the sources of his inspiration.We hope that you can join us for the opening of Inner Myths by Shida. Friday the 4th of July from 6-10pm.
Interview with Shida & High-resolution images available upon request
Opening night 6-10pm, Friday 4th of July, 2014
On Display until Sunday 13th of July, 2014
25 Easey Street
THE RIDER. ENAMEL ON WOOD
MORNINGTON. ACRYLIC AND PAPER COLLAGE ON WOOD
MOVEMENT 2. SALVAGED HARDWOOD AND SCREWS
THE WATCHER AT HEIDELBERG. ACRYLIC AND AEROSOL ON WOOD
VISIONS. ENAMEL ON WOOD
THE WAKER. ACRYLIC AND AEROSOL ON WOOD
Posted by: KOAN
To celebrate the launch of UNTOLD by James Reka our comrade JPS at The Operatives has released a new DJ mix.
Enjoy the mix and check out mixcloud page for mixes from previous shows. We’ve migrated it all across from SoundCloud.
JPS – “UNTOLD by JAMES REKA” – BACKWOODS MIX by Backwoods Gallery on Mixcloud