On the 12th of February 1942, RAF serviceman No. 406030 died in a plane crash at the airbase Secret Aerodrome No.2 in Palembang, Indonesia. This tragedy inspires Katy Mutton’s upcoming exhibition of heart-wrenching works at Canberra Contemporary Art Space Manuka. Triggered by detective Mutton’s discovery of a series of correspondences in the National Archives, these works take you on the journey of her great-grandfather’s unrelenting ten-year search for the body of his son killed in this crash. The great loss and longing of Mutton’s ancestors are embedded in these evocative works. She uses objects and documentation directly related to the search to recreate the family narrative in intricate marks and nostalgic imagery. The secrets of the past make for an intimate bunch of works, but Mutton also beckons us to think about universal questions of memory disruption and impairment.
Words by Isabelle Morgan
In Face Facing Luke Chiswell surrenders simplicity, breaking his imagery down to clean organic lines and forms that distill the essence of his ideas. His works are site specific and great attention is paid to the integration of work into its surroundings.
This show playfully asks the question ‘what actually makes a face’. Is it the eyes, the nose, the lines or the shape? What principal elements make up a face? Chiswell attempts to answer these questions with minimal marks and evocative ideas.
This exhibition is not about identity but it is self-centered. Some may say it is arrogant, others, a tad neurotic or even a little mental. But all is forgiven by the fact that this anxious and obsessive photography is some of the hottest Canberra’s contemporary art scene has to offer. From Pop culture to high art, Dean Butters, Aimee Fitzgerald, Elly Freer and Holly Granville-Edge bring you Au-to /graph an exhibition of self-examination and angsty neuroses.
Even if you’re not a lady it is likely that you know Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Rush. Most can admit to having flicked through the shiny glam pages of the likes only to be awed by the immense beauty of the pristine faces and bodies that coat the pages, as well as the superfluous and fantasy products they convincingly advertise will enrich our lives. Louise Upshall turns this invented world upside down cutting up the glossy pages of photo-shopped mannequins to use them as source material for her works. This process is part of her skepticism towards these fashion magazines that she believes, despite their enticing charm and beauty endorse destructive values and myths.
It is not only men who consume the woman’s objectified body, but women engage in this consumption too. Looking at Natalie Portman or Scarlett Johansson the ordinary girl can’t help but wonder how she got her hair so shiny and why she gets to be a C cup when I am only an A. In Scar Clan, Upshall creates a shrine to women as she explores new contexts for ancient stories, culture and ritual. Her collages and painted images incorporate archaic elements of scarred women surrounded by protective talismans. But she mashes recognizable contemporary faces into these shrines creating bewildering but powerful idols.
Words Isabelle Morgan
A hellosQuare exhibition and residency featuring Luke Penders, Elena Papanikolakis, Dylan Martorell, Helani Laisk, Robbie Karmel, Kate Ahmad, Spartak, Ollie Brown, Shopgirl, Deafcat and Merewomen.
Mixing it up is never something we say no to at CCAS. But the collaborative commotion about to hit Manuka redefines what it means to mix it up altogether. HellosQuare recordings presents cue funktion, a sublime combine of art and melody. From the 10th to the 20th of May, CCAS Manuka presented an exhibition featuring new works by Kate Ahmad, Robbie Karmel, Helani Laisk, Dylan Martorell, Elena Papanikolakis and Luke Penders. If you thought this was exciting enough, the space was also transformed each Friday and Saturday evening from 8:30pm into a live pop-up venue, hosting Spartak in residency with different guests each night. This collaboration is according to Shoeb Ahmad of HellosQuare “a melting pot of multifaceted art-forms that inhabit the same creative landscape, one born out of a DIY spirit and unique interpretation.” cue funktion was a clash of creativity that brought a fresh new atmosphere and many energetic partakers to the Manuka scene.
The Complementary Woman explores Green’s childhood impressions of the Australian bush. Significant places like the Clyde River Gorge, Shoalhaven River and the Central Desert appear in her paintings. Many works are the result of accumulated memories of different places co-mingling on thick black velvet, creating new views of the past in a warm emotional space.
There is an automobile theme at Manuka in a beautiful show by versatile UK Frederick. Authentic bunting from a used car lot greets the audience to a show of images focusing in on all aspects of the motor car. Car seats, crash debris, donuts, grease stains and covered vehicles all add up to a stylish exhibition framed by a video of bunting in the breeze. Its a celebration – with a hint of irony – and appropriate amount of reverence for the much loved horseless carriage.
For Rachael Freeman, painting is a little romantic and a little apocalyptic. Each work rides the line between euphoric bliss and impending doom. Enter into her carefully executed and choreographed fields of paint as they lead you along paths whose destination is the point at which they disappear or culminate in a pool of paint. Exploring interior and exterior space, Freeman creates a surreal world, but one that is related to the real one. She paints landscapes and anatomy, but neither is obvious amongst collaged-layers of paint that are only ambiguously suggestive. The convergence between these physical places and bodily forms reflects the complexity of experience in the world.
Sediment is about the natural exterior world, but also the human interior. Erosion and melting are physical occurrences in nature but can also be sensations of being and feeling. Feeling like we might be washed away, or dissolve into a pool of molten material on the ground. Planes of colour spilling spontaneously over each other are contrasted with clean-cut lines that ensure there is not too much mix or overlap. The instinctive and uninhibited are set against desire for control. This is enhanced by her exploitation of the paint, which is in some places wild but in others meticulously applied. There is also contrast in her multiple layers of collaged paint that produce an uncannily flat screen-print-like finish. Freeman takes you into her world, which appears familiar in many ways, but also confronts you with the reality that you have no idea where you are.
Words by Isabelle Morgan
Fragments are incomplete or isolated pieces of something. They are essences which are detached from an original context and given new meaning. Fragments represent an undercurrent uniquely translated in each of the artists’ work and by using a system of identically sized works the theme is brought to the surface in this exhibition.
Come and feel more at home in the gallery than you have ever felt before with Fiona Veikkanen’s new show Creature Comforts at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Manuka. Veikkanen’s creations are friendly and welcoming as she crafts familiarity and comfort into strangely new and wonderful creations. The well known becomes the curious, as homey materials such as clothing are transformed. Veikkanen also uses kitschy craft techniques like pompom making, crochet and French knitting that remind you of your own trinkets and treasures. But as close as you feel to these works, you still don’t know what they are or what they are used for. This is what Veikkanen likes best; the thought viewers have that, “I should know what I am looking at because it is so familiar, but I really don’t know what it is!”
Words by Isabelle Morgan