Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Variable Truth at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art - 10 July

Okay, quick show of hands. Who has heard of this place? I hadn't but it is now firmly on my radar and their next show with Ken + Julia Yonetani looks like a cracker.  But first things first, the Variable Truth.  This show "examines alternative aesthetic and conceptual trajectories in contemporary art based upon close readings of Australian art and social history".  Phew, I reckon whoever came up with that copy must do pretty well in those 25 words or less comps.  

On to the show.  I am a big fan of neon so quite liked Brooke Andrew's Flowchart which linked up old photos with neon lines.  I can't really recall if anything else was downstairs so lets move on up.  It is a nice little space upstairs and you won't get lost.  All up about 7 or 8 different artists up here.  The marble flags of Alexander Seton's are hard to miss on the way in but it is the Tony Albert installation that really steals the show (image above).  There are two large Be Deadly posters that may or may not be ones I saw at the open studio but they have that same feel.  Each has been worked up with some additional collage detailing and they are hung on a wall that has been wallpapered with the posters he had made for the indigenous art fair in Cairns.  Great look and something I would definitely love to have at home, kids playroom here we come!  I am a big fan of text in art and like how Tony keeps coming back to some of the same phrases.  On the left he has the 'I Am, You Are, We Are' from the used in some many advertisements that he has added the 'Am I, Are You, Are We' questions to (for those who don't watch that much telly, the answer to the question is Australian, or as Tony would say Australien).  I think I have seen this in one of his velvet pieces as well and it does make you rethink the first statement.  Looking closely at the works you can also find his 'Pay Attention' and 'Stick With Love' phrases there as well.  It was on one of the vintage playing card sculptures that I first became aware of the full quote "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear" from Martin Luther King Jr and it I think it particularly apt for Tony's works.  According to the gallery director these are both from private works already so see them now before they go away for good.  Michael Lee and Melissa Howe had some model making going on in their works but they didn't really pull me in.  I think I have seen Greg Semu's work at a museum in New Zealand and it is confronting enough that 4A decided to keep it behind curtains.  It would be tough to live with but is great in a gallery context.

Points:  Easy one here, 3 to Tony.  Great way to display the works using the Be Deadly posters as wallpaper.  I am kicking myself for not picking up a dozen at the open studio but it has given me an idea and I have the seeds of a cunning plan germinating (more on that later).  2 to Brook Andrew for the neon and 1 point to the Director of 4A, Aaron Seeto, who was the consummate host.  Introducing himself and chatting freely about putting on the show.  I was very impressed with him and am meaning to listen to the podcast of his views on this show which is meant to be on the 4A website somewhere.  

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