AROUND THE GALLERIES Dan Rule
Published: The Age, A2, September 18, 2010.
WHAT Ponch Hawkes: more seeing is not understanding
WHERE Monash Galley of Art, 860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill, 8544 0500, mga.org.au
A couple dance to their portable stereo under flat, fluorescent, shopping centre lighting. It is night, the roller shutters halfway down, the scene all but uninhabited. The pair’s posture is perfect, eyes locked, feet in tandem; they have surely danced this step before. But that is not for us to know. Veteran Melbourne photographer Ponch Hawkes’ new body of work is a study of the fleeting glimpse, the incongruity of the moment. Spanning the Focus Gallery at MGA, more seeing is not understanding sees Hawkes hone on the indeterminate, nonetheless familiar moments of the urban night. The things that capture one’s eye when flying past in a cab; the odd, striking moments that are often just as promptly forgotten. Three teenage girls slouch in the glow of a brightly lit train platform shelter, one staring determinedly at her mobile phone. Two young men hold hands, silhouetted against the cityscape. The taller of the two wears an animal suit. It is a flash, a starting point, void of cues and back-story. The fact that Hawkes recreates such encounters from memory seems to attest to their resonance. Though some lose their impact in over-stylisation, these morsels of the unexplained visual data offer captivating threads. One of life’s great thrills is its muddle of ambiguity and unknowing, and it is precisely in that space, Hawkes seems well aware, that the wonder and reverie of imagination lies. Tues to Fri 10am–5pm, Sat to Sun noon–5pm, until October 24.
WHAT Emily Ferretti: Small Worlds
WHERE West Space, level 1, 15–19 Anthony Street, city, 9328 8712, westspace.org.au
Running alongside Sydney artist Emma Thomson’s suite of brilliant photographs capturing wannabe models carrying out their fantasies and the intriguing collaborative installation Morlocks, Mole People…, Emily Ferretti’s petite, delicately crafted oil, watercolour and pencil-on-paper works float quietly between worlds. Set against empty, white backdrops, she renders her humble organic and domestic treasures via a palette so incredibly light, soft and tonal, her subjects seem born of dreams. A coiled garden hose assumes the brown, textured scales of a snake, if only for a portion of its length; the rings of a tree-trunk mark its many years; a web-like net falls like a fragile patchwork. One of the joys of Ferretti’s Small Worlds – which follow her stunning Light Hold exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery in May – are their sheer economy. The young Melbourne artist omits as many details as she includes. In her beautiful painting of a pinecone, she renders only half the bract scales, the remainder subsumed in white space, as if half-formed in a dream. Indeed, it this blankness – this eschewal of context and setting – that affords these humble objects significance. In Ferretti’s world, there’s a life and a narrative to every object. Against the void of blank, white paper, her garden hoses, plants, baskets and ropes assume a kind of symbolic, trophy-like importance. Wed to Fri noon–6pm, Sat noon–5pm, until October 2.
WHAT Kirrily Hammond: Songs of Solitude
WHERE Gallerysmith, 170–174 Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne, 9329 1860, gallerysmith.com.au
The intimate scale of Kirrily Hammond’s beautiful oils belies their sprawling, almost cinematic atmosphere. Though only small, the 20 plus paintings that comprise Songs of Solitude capture the kind of vastness – of sky, of highway and of half light on the landscape – that many artists fail to describe. Light is crucial here. Hammond’s works drift in the flaring headlights, blurred street lamps and soft, tinted hues of Gippsland on dusk. But there is more to these works than the lay of the land. Like the transition from day to night, Songs of Solitude inhabits an ephemeral state. These paintings are neither here nor there, suspended between points on a map. Indeed, this rendering of twilight conjures a far more introspective reading than its vistas might initially suggest. Flanked by light and dark – hurtling through town after town – Hammond’s works are less about place than the liberty of finding oneself untethered. Runs alongside Andrew Seward’s peculiarly elegant graphite renderings of seaweed. Tues to Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 11am–5pm, until October 9.
WHAT Jeremy Kibel and Rhys Lee
WHERE Block Projects, 79 Stephenson Street, Richmond, 9429 0664, blockprojects.com
Opening Block Projects’ handsome new space in Richmond, this mildly though happily deranged collaboration from co-director Jeremy Kibel and long time cohort Rhys Lee makes for a tumultuous sea of stylistic signatures and vociferous lashings of paint. With each of the pair’s four oil and acrylic-on-linen works spanning a vast 1.8m x 4m, this is not a show for the faint-hearted. A particularly impressive work sees one of Kibel’s Picasso pastiches – emblazoned with iridescent blue and fire engine red – flanked by one of Lee’s signature ghouls and the sassy slither of a snake; another sees Snoopy smiling wonkily among a hoard of devilish faces. Elsewhere, there’s a plenty of unhinged symbolism and spooky signifiers: blood drips, black tears fall, a crucifix burns on a mountaintop. Making sense of it all, one feels, is hardly the point. This is the electric to and fro of a pair of unique creative minds. Amid their ghostly blobs, splashes of colour and sharp, graphic incursions, we witness their wonderful clash, clamour and coalescence. Wed to Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 11am–4pm, until September 30.