Monday, 15 July 2019

Bryan Fitzgerald

03 July - 10 August      Last Train to Banksia
Link to artist's website

Bryan Fitzgerald. Last Train to Banksia. Installation with photographs taken with mobile phone.
Bryan is a neighbour. He is the Fitzgerald of Chee Soon and Fitzgerald, a shop along Regent St. He’s the guy who sweeps the street in a wide arc around the shop, delivering the same aura of calmness to our street that his shop exudes. And he’s a photographer who observed Raam, a friend making his way to Redfern Station for the Last train to Banksia. And among these various endeavours the idea that threads them together is patina – Bryan’s alertness to patina.

Patina is the surface texture of things that visually conveys mood. It’s the shine on an old car’s chrome-work that labels it a classic, the faint echo of wall paint that encapsulates a past rather than indicating the need for modernization. It’s the beauty born of time and the passage of hands. And it’s the romanticism of walking down a street alive to every sensation where the visual charge is of life lived. This is the mood that Bryan Fitzgerald captures for us in his photographs of our streets.
Bryan offers us the gift of pause. It is the moment of stillness, listening, watching some perfect moment of light and shade across a surface that is gone in the moment it takes to perceive it. Then again that might simply be a friend rushing to catch the last train home.

He was born in New Zealand and living there in timber houses he says that he learnt about patina from his great aunts. With a single sweep of their hands they cleaned, making no distinction between inside and out. Timber was scrubbed, the weatherboards painted, lino was no doubt mopped, week in week out imbuing each surface with life. Small changes, incremental differences building across the passage of time and recorded as surface patina are savoured here in photographs of Raam making his journey, short and local that we might understand as cinema. We watch transfixed as time passes.

Bryan offers us the gift of pause. It is the moment of stillness, listening, watching some perfect moment of light and shade across a surface that is gone in the moment it takes to perceive it. Then again that might simply be a friend rushing to catch the last train home.

- Tony Twigg

All works are for sale in editions of 5 at $350 each
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Saturday, 8 June 2019

Ho Bo Jo

2 June - 3 July      Vision River

It isn’t his real name.

More correctly, it wasn’t his name when I first came across him. But when real is divided into: what was, what is and what will be, it’s the present we pay attention to. Change is accommodated, necessitated even expected, but rarely questioned when a question could be read as impolite, ill informed and possibly reactionary.

Art has pummeled the idea of real. Words like, illusion and reality, origin and reproduction, concept and object, facsimile and symbol - have been thrown together often enough for people to realize that everything is real; however, some things are more precisely named than some other things. Reality has become a question of nomenclature.

Ho Bo Jo is exhibiting jpegs, objects from cyber space that effortlessly ship pictures around as numbers. For an artist digital imagery opens pictures to seemingly endless sequences of change that can be tracked. What might begin as a single idea can expand into a graphic record of its evolution. In time the narrative of evolution becomes more consequential than any single image suggesting that the narrative has morphed into an embryonic language, a Vision River perhaps. Look at one of Ho Bo Jo’s images and you will see a jpeg, look at a 100 and you will see a language.

I can see two of these language-like sequencers of images playing here. One that looks like a set of painterly abstractions while the other represents a reality that often includes pictures hanging on gallery walls. Of course the two sets of images mingle. We observe as an art-like image that evolved as a manipulation of pixels ends up on a gallery wall where it is observed as a manipulation of images.

It is a simple story but it is a complex consideration of the mysterious romance of art. It’s not a movie; there is no beginning, no end, no running time. Look at it for 20 seconds or look at it for an hour, you will see much the same thing. But with an hour's viewing the more nuanced this meditation on the romantic ideal of art becomes.

At the end of a parting email, Ho Bo Jo informed me that his name is a “3 word poem”, a kind of onomatopoeia perhaps, a name that describes as much as it identifies, unlike his images that identify rather than describe.

Tony Twigg


Saturday, 4 May 2019

Anie Nheu

28 April - 01 June    Paean 
Link to artist's website

Like many artists, Anie Nheu sees her life reflected in her art. She feels that because her life went one way rather than another her art has permission to go that way as well. As this idea of representation grows it becomes an exercise in mapping that can chart life across generations. It can stretch to accommodate ancestors and locate the artist with in a pantheon of concerns that artists will often describe as their way of making sense of the world.

Anie was born on the road, as she said “moving from place to place with my parents since the civil war in East Timor”. To live a life, as she sees it, in 3 parts, now drawn into a “harmonious whole”. This is the map she has given us. Sketched out on 3 hessian bags stitched together with twine and Anie’s painting that has settled across the surface in a way that does not obscure the origin of her bags - bags, metaphorically that she has lumped since her days in East Timor as an infant.

Anie Nheu. Paean, 2019. Installation of painting on hessian, Ikea chair, painted plastic serving plate

Of course the work is a painting, symbolic of nothing more or less than itself. It gracefully observes the conventions of abstraction and achieves a beauty that is new to the hessian sacks. But Anie has included some jarring elements. The work is improbably placed on the wall, as if she were to continue working on it rather than display it for our consideration. There is a chair, arbitrarily placed that seems to contradict our preconceptions of scale. And far off to the side is a golden oval that might be something venerated.

The painting that is a map has been given it’s own space; it’s own set of preconditions that is different to ours. It is somewhere else.  Paean, the title, what does it mean? “A song of praise”, “a creative work expressing enthusiastic praise”. Could we think that from somewhere else we are hearing the voice of praise? That from some other time that could be the whole of life so far, comes a song of praise for the here and now? This moment of quiet pleasure, of walking down a street to encounter something that is a lot like an art work, if not the very thing that art is.

-Tony Twigg

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Anca Frankenhaeuser

24 March - 27 April      The Wrapsody of the Daily Paper

Link to artist's website

Anca Frankenhaeuser, 2019. Wrapsody in the Daily Paper.  Assemblage with wound plastic forms.

Anca Frankenhaeuser is a dancer, a celebrated dancer and choreographer who traveled from Finland to London to dance with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. And in the dance of life she found Patrick there who danced her on to Australia, as David Bowie sang, “Under the moonlight, this serious moonlight, lets dance, lets dance, dance, dance, dance…………”

Among their many projects, Anca and Patrick dance with the group Australian Dance Artists that works with the Australian sculptor and performance artist Ken Unsworth to realize gloriously theatrical works that merge the various arts into a single expression. For Anca another unusual thing started happening when she reached Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald began arriving, tossed over the front fence skidding to a halt on the damp grass wrapped in glad wrap.

The silvery plastic sheet could only be saved - wound relentlessly around itself - growing more substantial day by day. As Anca said, this isn’t plastic wound around a form; it’s plastic all the way through. As she wound, in an elaborate calculation based on a time / weight ratio, her winding became 2,375 days worth that is 6 years and 6 months of winding. Or as Patrick put it, “I watch television and Anca does this at the same time.”

-Tony Twigg

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.