Melbourne Art Fair 2012 / by Anna Madeleine

Some images and writing from Melbourne Art Fair, August 1-5, 2012.I was live-blogging the event for Art Almanac, online here.

Renee Cosgrave, Next Wave

Laura Wills, Hill Smith Gallery

Marcin Wocjik, BUS Projects

BUS Projects was one of the eight galleries to present in the MAF Project Rooms, aimed at showcasing emerging artists and experimental works from Artist Run Initiatives.

Bus Projects presents the work of Marcin Wocjik, and is a breath of fresh air amongst the white cube spaces. Against a bright blue backdrop, referencing the blue screen used in video compositing, Wocjik has staged two ‘scenes’, using props to conjure up an empty setting relating to certain sports or physical ventures – one is based on cycling and the other mountaineering with a rope bridge crossing over a glacier accompanied by ice picks. The materials he has used are honest and playful, also incorporating a sound component and a steam train mechanism which is activated every hour.

Wocjik’s work beautifully uses simple objects to create scenes similar to a cartoon world or 8 bit computer game, and invites the viewer to step into this space and consider the boundaries between virtual spaces, theatrical sets, performance, and art. Its light-heartedness and experimental nature is quite different to anything at the Melbourne Art Fair, but this is what makes it one of the highlights.

Julian Meagher, Chalk Horse

Mark Whalen, Edwina Corlette Gallery

Trent Parke, Hugo Michell Gallery

Hugo Michell Gallery was an immediate highlight of the Melbourne Art Fair because of its powerful works which are obviously strong conceptually as well as aesthetically.

The three artists presented are Trent Parke, Tony Garifalakis, and Tim Sterling, a combination which balances between light and dark, representational and abstract, and photographic, tactile, and sculptural.

Park’s documentary series Minutes to Midnight presents a journey across Australia recorded in stark black and white photographs, depicting subject matters that are often violent and unsettling, of people, animals, landscapes and urban settings. The series is a substantial body of work that chronicles his trip into outback Australia, challenging fundamental questions of Australian identity by revealing a more brutal, dangerous and gloomy vision of outback culture.

Tony Garifalakis, Hugo Michell Gallery

Alongside Parke’s series is the work of Tony Garifalakis, whose work explores apocalyptic themes similarly relevant to the sinister undertones of Park’s work. Garifalakis looks at the idea of the apocalypse through graphic representations and symbolism of religion and political agendas, through collage of cut denim which hang heavily on the walls. They contain a satisfying weight and tactility, in some cases stitched together with safety pins, the materiality of the work tying effectively in to its concept.

On the opposite side of the space, the work of Tim Sterling provides a lighter work which provides a nice balance between the bleakness of Parke and Garifakis, and a more sculptural, abstract and open body of work.

Tim Sterling, Hugo Michell Gallery

Nicholas Folland, Ryan Renshaw Gallery

Kristin McIver, James Makin Gallery

Martin King, James Makin Gallery

With a focus on painting and drawing at this years Melbourne Art Fair, it was nice to come across a beautiful and captivating video work at James Makin Gallery. Martin King investigates the aesthetic and emotional experience of the natural world, depicting the rhythmic pattern of a bird’s flight with hand drawn charcoal animation. The bird becomes a motif in his current series, pointing to the elemental cycles of nature – night/day, rain/drought, and the turning of the tides.

Simon Lawrence, The Physics Room

Adam Norton, Gallerysmith

Adam Norton’s Space Yurt designed for life on Mars. The tent-like structure, complete with portholes and plants, contains a space-bed made out of tennis balls and framed photographs of Norton, his momentos for this life post-Earth. It playfully stands as a cubby house made out of heavy duty aluminium foil, resonating with make-shift structures we used to make as kids. This is of course reflected in the concept of an imaginary futuristic journey into outer space – however it is underlined with a sense of urgency and darkness, of huge questions – what happens at the end of the world? Where do we go and how will we survive?

Lucas Grogon, Time Will Tell Babe and Baby Steps, Gallerysmith

Eric Bridgeman, Gallerysmith

Eric Bridgeman's work explores cultural associations surrounding the ‘golliwog’, the black clown. The parallel vividness and underlying darkness creates a powerful relationship between something that reminds us of a kid’s birthday party, and the sinister undertones of racial tension.

Textaqueen, Gallerysmith

Paul Yore, Gertrude Contemporary

Aida Tomescu, Milky Way, Liverpool Street Gallery

Aida Tomescu's paintings are refreshing, up-lifting, and illuminating, with large scale canvases using a vibrant colour palette of rich yellows, reds and pinks, and the smaller works of intriguing line-work which looks almost like handwriting, a quality which draws us in to decipher the meaning or visual language behind them.

Tomescu is known for her technique of continuous building and erasure of paint to create a layered structure in the work. These new paintings contain the density and complexity of this style, but contain a new openness and more variety in her consideration of scale and space. They contain a movement which runs through the series of works, resting in some and building density and vibrancy in others, creating a rhythm of ebbs and flows – in both the work as a collection, as well as their creation. Tomescu’s use of layering, line-work and colour is poetic and expressive, speaking of particular experiences with movement, mood and explosive emotion.

Jud Wimhurst, MARS Melbourne Art Rooms

Alexander James, Nuha Saad, Nairn Scott, Antonia Radich, Ali Noble, James Dorahy Project Space

Gosia Wlodarczak, Fehily Contemporary

I was lucky enough to chat to Gosia about her work, and how the process of making the work becomes a performance of the artists’ consciousness. The images are made by placing linen onto and into spaces such as bathtubs, kitchen sinks, toilets or onto an ironing board, and recording the marks that she sees created by the light and shape of the underlying object. The representation is altered by time and shifting of the linen, producing recurring shapes of the objects , such as taps and sinkholes, and a changing consideration of the negative space of the objects – an acknowledgement and representation of space which usually goes un-noticed.

Sally Smart, Fehily Contemporary

On the back wall of Fehily’s space are four Sally Smart works, one of the highlights of the fair. Her dark canvases of velvet cotton and fabric create intense black backgrounds overlayed with various collage elements of body parts, fabric and pattern, the act of cutting a prominent aspect of both the process and final product of the work. The figures that are created speak of disjointed human form, a destruction of identity and narrative, and abstract dream-like qualities with an anatomical twist.

eX de Medici, Sullivan & Strumpf

Tom O’Hern, Bett Gallery

Neil Frazer, Martin Browne Contemporary

Martin Browne Contemporary staged an impressive and ambitious series of six exhibitions in four days.

Beginning with a group exhibition across both spaces on opening night, MBC have presented a new exhibition each day. Thursday saw exhibitions of new paintings by Ildiko Kivacs and Neil Frazer, whose large scale, textural paintings of Victoria’s coastal areas were a huge success, and on Friday we were blown away by solo exhibitions by Alexander McKenzie and McLean Edwards.

Alexander McKenzie, Martin Browne Contemporary

McLean Edwards, Martin Browne Contemporary

Martin Browne Contemporary, Group Show

Simon Scheuerle, Death Be Kind