Sunday, 17 March 2019

Jualian Twigg, Tony Twigg, A Twigg

13 - 24 March      TWIGG X 3

Link to artist's website

Julian Twigg. Sailing Rose Bay.
Decades ago there was an invitation to an art exhibition in my letter box, paintings of Sydney Harbor by Julian Twig at the James Harvey Galley, I think, somewhere near Bronte. It was a surprise, partly because I’d been thinking of myself, Tony Twigg as the only Twigg in Australian art.

Years went by, swapping invitations to exhibitions with Julian until I emailed him with the unlikely news that I had found another Twigg in Australian art, a marine artist whose picture of Sydney Harbor had turned up at Davidsons Auction House in Annandale.

Almost nothing is known of A. Twigg beyond a small collection of pictures that over lay his sailing boats on Sydney Harbour with a startling schematic understanding of reality. In this his work is not unlike Julian Twigg’s, but unlike Julian, A. Twigg painted portraits of boats. A profession described by an advertisement in the Business Cards column on page 1 of the Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 1876, “Balmain Regatta – Owners of racing boats wishing to have a PAINTING of their boat with a view of the regatta can have them done on application to A. Twigg, Marine Artist No. 10 Erskine St.”   The photocopies here are of the 2 works by A. Twigg sold through Davidsons Auction House. I found another sold by the Bridget McDonnell Gallery in Melbourne. There is a painting of the Ballina Ferry in the collection of the Mitchell Library and one other, The Cimba & pilot boat through Sydney Heads, 5 known paintings in total survive.

A. Twigg, Ballina Ferry [mid to late 1800s]
The oil painting here is of boats sailing past Rose Bay by Julian Twigg. Australian Galleries who represent Julian describes him as a “Painter, ceramicist and printmaker (who) completed a Diploma of Visual Art at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2000. His impasto paintings of maritime scenes are constructed from simplified forms and broad colour, emphasising the emotive aspects and changing temperaments of Port Philip Bay. Twigg’s works have been exhibited in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. He was awarded the ANL Maritime Prize in 2007 and the Mayor’s Prize Waverley Art Prize, in 2010. His work is held in several regional and tertiary collections.”

My own work, A Sail, by Tony Twigg is from a suite of works made in 1980 as I considered offering my life to the becoming of an artist. So long ago now that memories of how and why crumble when pause is taken to recall them. But if the poetry of a sail is given, it is also shared, coincidently through a name, blown however fleetingly through Australian Art by the unrelated artists, Twigg.

-Tony Twigg

Twigg X3: A Sail by Tony Twigg, photocopied images of paintings of ferry and paddle steamer by A. Twigg, Sailing Rose Bay by Julian Twigg.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Jayanto Tan

10 February - 28 February      Warung Peranakan Waginem

Link to artist's website

Jayanto Tan.  Warung Peranakan Waginem, 2019.

Jayanto Tan makes exquisite installations from unlikely materials, memorably used tea bags and in this instance the spent packing cases of incense sticks. This “threw away” packaging is function first, inadvertently beautiful and when amassed by Jayanto, musical. It sings a song, exotic and familiar that is inescapably, the left overs of Chinese New Year.

Submerged within the surface clatter of his installations are meditations on being that reveal Jayanto’s unfolding autobiography. He wrote of this piece: 

"you visit my grave - my tomb will make you dance. 
- be sure to bring a tambourine.”
It [this work] focuses on themes of remembrance and narrative history that create points of connection between the past and the present, between Fujian Province the Straits of Malacca to the City of Sydney of Peranakan culture. Through discarded objects – emptied incense case Perankan cultures and personal experiences, I created hanging installations that purpose a memorial of connection to my late mother as a gift in Lunar New Year. This is a healing that creates a bridge from the past to a current living that embraces a diverse future in celebration of our contemporary world.

Fujian Province and the Straits of Malacca are exotic sounding places that gave rise to the equally exotic Peranakan culture of the Baba-Nonya, the descendants of Chinese traders who settled through the Malay archipelago before European colonization.  They prospered but more interestingly they assimilated with the Malay culture into an exotic life style expressed in architecture, clothing and food…..some of the most delicious food imaginable.

The Nonya are one of many distinct social groups that are a legacy of the migration to and colonisation of the Malay Archipelago. It is a stark contrast to the Australian experience where history is neatly split into two culture zones - before and after British colonisation. It isn’t like that of course, the Australian experience is constantly shifting but with this “shake of the tambourine” Jayanto seems to be inviting us to join his dance of assimilation.

-Tony Twigg

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Jonathan Thomson

13 January - 09 February    Gilded Youth

Link to artist's website

Jonathan Thomson. Gilded Youth
Jonathan Thomson lives the expatriate life-style. A gentleman in Hong Kong whose history reaches back to Adelaide where he studied economics and even further back to the ship yards of Whyalla.

A trip to London landed him in art galleries and sent him back to uni where he studied art history. That lead to a job with the Australia Council and then an invitation to help Hong Kong set up their version of the Australia Council, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In cashed up Hong Kong Jonathan landed at the top end of town.

With the change from British to a Chinese administration in 1997 Jonathan moved on, became a freelance curator, an advisor and a journalist, writing for Ian Finlay-Brown’s magazines, Asian Art News and World Sculpture News, which is where I met him. Like Finlay-Brown he wrote about Asia and the art made there from the point of view of a privileged outsider, alertly discussing a culture that seems willing to meet the west, only halfway.

More travel and a CV too long to list left Jonathan with the time to make art. And this is the product. An example here drawn from a body of work that takes the shadows falling across the beauty of youth as it’s subject, that and the merchandising savvy that markets youthful beauty as the commodity, gilded youth.

This show has an air, somewhat Louis Vuitton- sleekly beautiful, effortlessly digestible that sets it apart from the here and now, rendering it unmistakably desirable. It promotes, at least for me a meditation on fashion, on “this year's model”- a critique offered by the insider who, like the expatriate adopts a view as skeptical as it is enthralling. He will meet his subject but only half way.

 - Tony Twigg

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Christopher Hodges

9 December - 12 January    I'm Dreaming

Link to artist's website

Christopher Hodges. I'm Dreaming, 2018.

Christopher Hodges is a Renaissance man, neighbor, raconteur, tourist, connoisseur, motorcyclist, art dealer, loving husband of Helen and artist.

As an artist, he celebrates modernity with an alertness that embraces sensuality and wit. Modernism casts a long shadow in Waterloo, here the tall grey apartment blocks reiterate Le Corbusier’s fabled “machine for living”. Beside them Christopher Hodges’ graphic sculpture speaks directly with an understanding of history and an innate experience of now.

This exactly scaled work ascends and descends through a perfectly calibrated scale connecting a square with a rectangle that incidentally might be a slot before returning it to a square. It also conceals a light in a delightfully inadequate manner. By day a string or two of pearls are glimpsed, as tasteful as the white on white minimalism of the work itself. Across the evening and into the night it’s a different story. The work dips into the blackness of an apparent bacchanalian abandon to blazing red and green.

Forget about stop and go it’s Christmas, it’s go go go – go the Bunnies, and if you didn’t get it there are a couple of rabbits lurking about to make sure you do, “let’s dance”, and dance, dance, dance the night into light, the morning’s clarity and then the reason of the day.

This work doesn’t waste a second of its 24-hour cycle as it shuttles us from mood to mood. Sure it’s a perfect work but it avoids the singularity of perfection. And that is why Christopher is more a Renaissance man than a Modernist.

- Tony Twigg

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Glenn Locklee

04 November - 08 December     Commute

Link to artist's website

Glenn Locklee. Commute 2018.

Glenn Locklee is a mysterious artist. His conversations, like his urgently painted pictures are littered with insights and confidences that avoid facts. His pictures, like his urgently delivered conversations craft “snap shots” into deliberate looking abstractions. The mystery of course is how the artist weaves life into art and then weaves art back into life.

These pictures seem to begin with a photograph, a snap shot of an image caught on the run between one place and another that is rendered with the sureness and brevity of reality. The rest of the painting recasts that “snap shot” as a bit player in a formal rendering of the painting as an abstract composition. One section of the picture may be a detail of the “snap shot” another may be a meditation on a surface texture drawn from the detail while another is simply an area of paint applied to the surface of the picture. But the subject of the painting might not be the “snap shot”; it might be the passage of thought from one place to another place that is literally in the painting. This would be the fictional journey from an allusion of reality to a concrete fact, as truthful as the painting is real.

The passage of fact shifting through time is a device in popular culture. Simplistically it’s Post Modern Theory and in art history it is Cubism. This is the idea that a real-truthful-factual picture of something is an amalgamation of various views of it. Modern artists in Paris came up with this portentous idea a century ago. And in a physical and a meta-physical way it accommodates the “bumpy” nature of our universe where light travels, not in straight lines, but in board arching curves that invite the observer to simultaneously observe the observation.

In that sense, these graphically arresting pictures are a bit like comics that are parables of fact.
-Tony Twigg