Out of the Or­di­nary – Chloe Mandryk

Art Almanac - - NEWS - Chloe Mandryk

Early art­works from ‘mid-ca­reer’ Aus­tralian and New Zealand artists who en­gaged with a di­verse range of ma­te­ri­als in sur­pris­ing and trans­for­ma­tive ways are on view now in the con­tem­po­rary gal­leries of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in ‘Out of the Or­di­nary’.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is drawn from pieces col­lected dur­ing the ‘Art & Aus­tralia Con­tem­po­rary Art Award’ (2000-2015), a plat­form cre­ated by the mag­a­zine un­der the ten­ure of pub­lisher and ed­i­tor Eleonora Triguboff. The prize sup­ported and pro­moted the prac­tices of young artists for over a decade, which was ad­ven­tur­ous – us­ing the back cover of the mag­a­zine usu­ally re­served for ‘big-ad­ver­tis­ers’ and pro­fil­ing each artist by an emerg­ing writer. By this de­sign the award ad­vo­cated for dis­course sur­round­ing not typ­i­cally com­mer­cial or un­der­rep­re­sented artists. As one re­cip­i­ent Grant Stevens con­firmed, “As a young artist there are al­ways a lot of “firsts”. Be­ing sup­ported and en­cour­aged when you are ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent pro­cesses, ma­te­ri­als and ideas re­ally helps to push your prac­tice and open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties.” Re­cently the gallery wel­comed the do­na­tion of the col­lec­tion by Eleonora and Michael Triguboff, with some works from the now ti­tled ARTAND Emerg­ing Artist col­lec­tion se­lected by cu­ra­tors Justin Pa­ton and Lisa Catt for this show.

Each work pos­sesses a unique voice and a di­a­logue ex­ists amongst the prac­tices from pol­i­tics to con­cerns about our en­vi­ron­ment as well as artis­tic med­i­ta­tions. As cu­ra­tor Catt noted be­tween Re­becca Bau­mann and Sara Hughes’ pieces we find they “both con­sider an ex­pan­sive in­ter­pre­ta­tion to­wards the prac­tice of paint­ing, us­ing non-tra­di­tional me­dia to prise open the his­tory of ab­strac­tion and its ex­plo­rations into chance, geo­met­ric forms and the as­so­cia­tive power of colour.” Also within this, dare I say mil­len­nial or Gen Y school, are a group of works united by their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for rit­ual and what un­folds slowly; from Kushana Bush’s “in­ter­est in the daily rou­tine of the gym-go­ers pass­ing by her stu­dio; Laith McGre­gor finds fas­ci­na­tion in the soli­tary, spir­i­tual life­style of the sadhu; and Michelle Ussher turns her at­ten­tion to a ‘clas­sic’ Aus­tralian cul­tural prac­tice — the camp­site pic­nic. These in­tensely worked images, in pen­cil, gouache and pen, also seem to ru­mi­nate on the rit­ual of draw­ing it­self”, de­scribes Catt.

Con­tri­bu­tions from artists such as Bau­mann, Bush, Hughes, John­son, Jonathan Jones, McGre­gor, Nicholas Man­gan, Rob McHaffie, Stevens and Ussher are ex­am­ples of the height­ened spirit of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion of their time as they boldly ex­plored process, ma­te­ri­al­ity and mean­ing. Ques­tion­ing the world around us, its form and sig­nals, is a key­note in this show, as Catt re­counts “I re­cently chat­ted to Kushana Bush about her work in the ex­hi­bi­tion… she made the rather per­ti­nent point that out in “the real world” we are likely to pay lit­tle at­ten­tion to “a Nike tick or a wrist watch” but as soon as it is placed in a gallery “we de­mand its con­crete sym­bolic im­por­tance”, and to her, this po­ten­tial for trans­for­ma­tion is a re­ally pow­er­ful thing as an artist.”

So how have the group evolved in their use of ev­ery­day ma­te­ri­als from the early ‘noughties’ to now? Man­gan, whose re­cent work Lim­its to Growth (2016-2017) was on dis­play not long ago at the gallery is a lead­ing ex­am­ple – “you can be­gin to ap­pre­ci­ate the arc of his prac­tice” says Catt “how he has moved away from the strik­ing phys­i­cal­ity of sculp­tural forms to­wards a more stu­dious,

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