Arndt Art Agency
mad love 2017
Tiffany Wood, Patricia Piccinini and Devon Ackermann
Britta Schmitz and Patricia Piccinini
Matthias Arndt introducing the mad love panel discussion, Tuesday the 6th of June, 2017
Tiffany Wood, Devon Devon Ackermann and Ambassador Lynette Wood
Rachael Vance, Patricia Piccinini, Del Kathryn Barton, Paul Yore, Matthias Arndt, David Elliott
David Elliot, Del Kathryn Barton and Alexie Glass-Kantor
Krist Gruijthuijsen and Matthias Arndt
David Elliott and Del Kathryn Barton
Ambassador Lynette Wood, Australian Embassy, Berlin
With eyes wide-open
A glance that changes everything. In André Breton's essay "L'Amour Fou", the protagonist is "the man with the lashes of a sea urchin, who, walking on a blue street for the first time gazes up to the woman who is to be everything." Love is, in Breton’s work, a phenomenon of encounter, the product of a mysterious correlation of conditions, and results, at least in this case of mad love, in an unmitigated desire that cannot be objected.
It is telling that 80 years after its original publication Del Kathryn Barton (* 1972) entitles a group exhibition of contemporary Australian art "mad love", the name of the English translation of Breton's text. In fact, how Barton describes her curatorial concept, is reminiscent of Breton's principle of objective chance: "It was important to me to work within a framework that felt true to my creative heart and not overthink it. I was so hoping the show would be an unapologetically outrageous, visceral, figurative show.” A strange little song of the body and of love had burst out of her and she had forced herself to not change anything about it. The Surrealists called this Écriture automatique (automatic writing).
Barton describes it as follows: “Body as pleasure. Body as machine. Body longing, always longing. Hungry body, filthy body. Body to run. Body to deny. Thinking body. Muscle Body. Body as instrument and song, as instinct towards life. Body light. Body dark. Evolutionary body, dinosaur body. Plastic body. Colour body. BODY as unmitigated surges of light and energy, just briefly, but oh, such, such love......... mad, mad love.”
With these lines, she contacted a number of artists who are united by their radical approach of working representationally. Brook Andrew, Pat Brassington, Dale Frank, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Patricia Piccinini, Ben Quilty, Paul Yore and Barton herself, form a cross-section, or better, a subjective snap-shot of contemporary Australian art. Barton states that she hadn't thought further about what image of Australian art she wanted to convey; instead, she states that each individual artist offers insights into the mysteries of the human condition.
Contemporary Australian art is still considered to be a blind spot. This may also be due to the fact that the art scene and market “Down Under” is comparatively young. Only since the mid-1970s, after the establishment of the Australia Council, did artists and art in Australia receive sufficient official recognition and support, so that structures were able to form and a linking with the global art world took place. The Sydney Biennial was founded in 1973. In 1978, Australia participated in the Venice Biennale for the first time.
The artists in “mad love” are of different ages, indigenous and non-indigenous, affected by multiculturalism, women and men, heterosexual and queer. In a kaleidoscope-like manner, they not only illuminate Barton's theme of the body, but also relate to questions of our time, both private and political, with a perspective that is local as well as global.
The examination of the colonial past and the postcolonial present runs like a common thread through the work of Brook Andrew (* 1970). The artist, who himself comes from the First Nation of Wiradjuri, works with images taken from anthropological archives. By picking up and enlarging individual portraits of the nameless, he provokes a new perspective of both history and the individual. This is also reflected in the abstract, colourful paintings of the late Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (1924-2015), that tell of the bond between Aboriginal people and landscapes.
In contrast, cultural cross-references meet in Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s (* 1988) ceramic sculptures. Influences from Sri Lanka, where Nithiyendran was born, merge with elements of Christian and Hindu culture as well as pop references all the way to an idolatrous queer New Age mythology. Paul Yore’s (* 1987) wild patchwork pieces appear to be equally eclectic. They imitate the hectic image and information flow of the digital age and link it with an ancient textile craftsmanship.
The visions of Ben Quilty (* 1973) are much gloomier. His "Last Supper" series is a disconcerting compositional parable on the state of the world, marked by his journey to Syria in January 2016. Dale Frank (* 1959) also operates on the borders of representation and abstraction as well as painting as a whole. He has more recently extended his practice to three-dimensional works. Painting, he argues, could no longer be merely painting: “Painting today must live with its own contradictions, in the ugliness of its own beauty, and in the beauty of its own impossibility.”
Pat Brassington's (* 1942) access to beauty is similarly radical, but her implementation is completely different. "You're So Vein" (2005) and "In search of the marvellous" (2013) are the cryptic series titles, of which excerpts are shown in the exhibition. We see deformed or mutated body parts staged like fetishes.
Barton’s practice is present in two works. Populated by precisely painted beings, they seem to stem from an erotically charged fantasy world. “and stain through hair and flesh…….. and stain through fur and flesh…….., 2017”: A child-woman with bulging eyes stares out of the canvas, while the puppy that sits on her, watches her fixedly, she holds it upright like a small person. “Seeing is crucial, as their oversized eyes show“, wrote Julie Ewington in her monograph on Barton and her creatures' iconic wide-open eyes. Once again, the picture could be the key scene in a female connoted Amour Fou (obsessive passion or crazy love), if the women directed her attention to it.
Finally, the "plastic body" of Barton's Écriture automatique materialises in Patricia Piccinini’s (*1965) work. Similar to the Surrealists in painting or photography, she wanted to show things that were more transcendental than realistic – even if it at times employing existing species’ such as the Blobfish in her piece "Eulogy" (2011). The artist herself describes her hyper-realistic sculptures as a collision of speculative fiction with probability, thereby resembling Bretons idea of objective chance.
What unites the nine artists in all their diversity is the authenticity and autonomy of their visual language. This is determined by their origin – the ancient culture of Australia's native inhabitants, the moving history and present of the continent, the specific living conditions there – as well as by the examination of an art history still strongly influenced by Europe. They take us on a journey to the other end of the world and prove why it's time to take a closer look at Australia in the globalized art world.
curated by Del Kathryn Barton
Group exhibition at Arndt Art Agency (A3)
06.06. - 29.09.17
Opening Reception: Tuesday, June 6 2017, 6 – 9 pm
Participating artists: Brook Andrew, Del Kathryn Barton, Pat Brassington, Dale Frank, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Patricia Piccinini, Ben Quilty and Paul Yore.
Panel Discussion: AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY ART: NOW, Tuesday June 6 2017, 6 pm
David Elliott (Curator), Krist Gruijthuijsen (Director, Kunst-Werke, Berlin), Matthias Arndt (A3 founder), Del Kathryn Barton (mad love curator and artist), Alexie Glass-Kantor (Executive Director, Artspace Sydney)
LISTEN TO THE PANEL DISCUSSION RECORDING HERE
The exhibition “mad love” has been able to be realised through the direct support of the Australian Government as part of the cultural initiative Australia now 2017 – a year-long program celebrating Australian arts, culture, science and innovation across Germany.
A3 is pleased to present the group exhibition “mad love” that provides a contemporary image of current Australian art within the context of Germany and Europe. Held at Arndt Art Agency’s premises in Berlin, the show is curated by leading Australian artist Del Kathryn Barton.
Barton's personal selection of prominent Australian visual artists each engage with ideas surrounding instinct, innate urges and the corporeal. Artworks included will consist of paintings, sculpture, mixed media, photography, and works on paper.
“Body as pleasure. Body as machine. Body longing, always longing. Hungry body, filthy body. Body to run. Body to deny. Thinking body. Muscle Body. Body as instrument and song, as instinct towards life. Body light. Body dark. Evolutionary body, dinosaur body. Plastic body. Colour body. BODY as unmitigated surges of light and energy, just briefly, but oh, such, such love……… mad, mad love.”
- Del Kathryn Barton, September 2016
VIEW THE FULL EXHIBITION ARTWORK LIST HERE
For further information about A3 and Australia now, contact Rachael Vance, email@example.com
or visit the Australia Now website: http://australianow2017.de/