The New New

Reviewed 29th October 2010

Exhibition Dates: 29th Oct to 21st Nov 2010
Locations: The Gallery North Terrace, Contemporary Art Centre of SA,
SASA Gallery, FELTspace, Glenelg to Entertainment Centre tram,
Union Street, Barr-Smith Library, Victoria and Whitmore Squares

Forty-four artists, 12 Venues, 1 Project.
Curators Allan Cruickshank and Peter McKay

The breath of life is evident in the hollow shell of a heritage building on North Terrace named the Gallerie. Chipped, calcified walls resonate and are brought to life by powerful works by South Australian artists. A massive project in the Adelaide CBD, envisaged by Director of CACSA, Alan Cruickshank, and curated by Peter McKay, Adelaide transcends through this artistic collaboration and the works are a testimony of a skill and ideas based project through a diverse use of materials.

Roy Ananda’s abstract construction lies as a monument of a ruin, a chaotic design built and added to almost blindly, bit by bit, with a ladder amongst the rubble, which symbolically resembles a sign of freedom and hope. This work seemed to have grown and evolved with the artist’s observation and the design process guided by his sensibility. Julie Henderson’s chaotic remains of found objects ‘echoes of past days’ and ‘absence’ and perhaps a statement on objects, memory, which the viewer is left to wonder of belongings, symbolic language, and the connections we use for memory to construct our ideal. The cut up casters are a reminder of a microscope, and perhaps that is a reference and a connection for science and art to merge to a new level of understanding and expression.

Nasim Nasr’s powerful two panel videos appear to speak of the ‘voice’ the cultural differences and yet the similar aspirations of all humanity. The artist speaks of the rising above adversity through beliefs, with the creative human instinct substantiating our universal need for freedom and interconnectedness through the common ground of self-expression. In the first panel the artist uses the shape of the shroud, which the women of Iran wrap themselves in, as her canvas, writing in white chalk and erasing, dressed in the same attire. As one watches the video, two white shrouds appear in the background, this stems from the complexities of having to deal with a new culture identity and language. This work uses minimal imagery, in black and white, but portrays the diverse richness and determination of the individual sprit working as a collective entity. The artist also uses humour when describing the shape of the shroud, the shape of a vessel or as the artist says ‘a smile’ to indicate the innate richness of the women when in the safety of their caring homes, but cover when outside. Nasr had her father and mother’s blessing to travel and study to seek freedom of artistic expression.

Nick Folland’s lit chandeliers occupy a dark space, symbolising the sparkle of life in the contrasting and empty area.

SASA Gallery excels in presentation and content. The space has become the canvas where the works are strategically placed with optimum viewing space. Ian North’s photographic panels are exhibited as one continuous work, with text above and below the works, filling the eastern wall of the gallery. Luscious quiet scenes oozing with vegetation create paths for the viewer to meander and feel the quiet presence. The texts reserve homage for artists, photographers, writers, poets and environmentalists, that North gives prominence as part of his work. And it’s fair to say through our individual sensibility we are influenced by our choices, hence North, paying homage to and stating the names of his protagonists.

Lee Salome is a master of diverse materials. His photo of a shaved heart on his hairy chest, and another photo of a CD, rested on a wooden plank suspended off the ground by nearly invisible string, hovers in space. Salome’s works always seem to relate to a narrative, where he becomes the narrator in a visual sense. This work has a solid presence in the airy space of the gallery.

James Dodd continues capturing graffiti and extending the idea, giving the woks a new life by ‘placement’ such as galleries or frequently used public spaces. He extends this concept to the more traditional works such as the Breakaway by Tom Roberts. His research into mark making in public places is seen as ‘closing the gap’ between public spaces and traditionalist viewing spaces.

The Barr-Smith Library is showing the delicate and skilful watercolours and ceramics of Angela Valamanesh. These are a beautiful observation of cells, blood, tissues artistically expressed from a microscopic view. The placement of these works amongst her simplified organ shaped ceramics appears to represent a landscape.

The artist, with signature markings, uses a travelling canvas, a tram, from the Entertainment Centre to Glenelg, In Transit, 2010, by KAB 101 the artist has established fiery markings in calligraphy on the tram, placed at random which seem to be the inner workings of the daily commuters; maybe the thought processes while in transit. The artist describes them in the catalogue as expressing ambiguously his life’s ‘pain and joy’.

CACSA organizers and the artists of this extensive project have shown an enormous amount of initiative, commitment and a great sense of collaboration. This project has shown the need for South Australia to support the ‘present’. We have the Art Gallery of South Australia with works from the early settlers supporting our tradition of renowned artists and national and international exhibitions, we have the beautiful Samstag Museum building, whose main focus is on education, The Royal South Australian Society of Arts has also a long tradition, continual members exhibition and travelling shows. Adelaide is known as the technological state, investing in the future, but where is our landmark for contemporary art? Supporting the present? It’s evident in this project. CACSA has a need of more space and to be in a prominent position in walking distance from other main galleries.

You will find in most galleries an excellent free informative catalogue with artists’ statements and biographies.

Reviewed by Gina De Pieri Salvi, Visual Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide.

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