Presented by Art Images Gallery
Reviewed 21 June 2016
If you’ve ever opened an Australian newspaper or walked through a book store, chances are that you’re already familiar with the heartwarming squiggles and characters of Michael Leunig.
Leunig’s cartoons are legendary. They’re thoughtful, witty and (largely) optimistic messages, presented simply and cleanly. They are honest, approachable, positive parables for the modern age. Leuing is a great advocate for unified societies, respect towards nature and a world without conflict.
All of his passions and philosophies are clearly evident in his work, represented in crossed, curling lines, smiling animal-people and bright, almost childish colour schemes. Leunig’s finished works hardly look “serious”, but the messages behind them surely are.
The Art Images Gallery is celebrating the legacy of Leunig with this month-long exhibition, displaying prints and paintings from the acclaimed artist. The prints available are all classic Leunig, full of simple joy and relatable characters (How to Get There is a favourite for its profound message and adorable execution). However, the simplicity of some designs makes the digitally reproduced nature of the product quite apparent, with a lot of digital artifacts (the slight blurring or pixelation in an image) visible if you look close enough. On a large wall, this might not be noticeable, but it does cheapen the product a bit.
Though some of the prints seem a little over-produced and tacky, the original paintings on display are all lovely. They are full of Leunig’s warmth and a certain spark that is often lost in his printed works. Textured lines are created through masking over a colourful background, which is then dappled over with a smokey white.
Also on display are vibrant works by Mark Warren, an artist who will be familiar to most Art Images visitors. His masking technique and use of simple, geometrically design characters links him to Leunig, allowing a good flow between the two areas of the gallery.
Warren’s work is also joyous and playful, filled with images of the natural world and, strangely enough, jazz music. While Leunig’s works are more immediately recognisable and will likely be the main draw to the gallery this month, Warren’s works actually warrant more viewing time, not just because they are larger or more colourful, but because they are deeper, more textured and layered than Leunig’s work. They may not carry the same profound message, but they are more enjoyable, more fun.
You’re sure to leave this exhibition with the warm-fuzzies… and that’s a very nice feeling in the middle of our cold winter!
Reviewed by James Rudd
Venue: Art Images Gallery, 32 The Parade, Norwood
Season: 10 June – 3 July