Elektromont-Dion Horstmans

Elektromont

Catalogue essay by: Marguerite Brown, MA ArtCur

The sculptures of Dion Horstmans slice through the space that surrounds them with angular force and superb brevity of form. In his latest exhibition Elektromont, Horstmans draws upon some of the ideas and influences that have long permeated his practice. Speed and electricity, thunder and lightning, the stars and planets are all aspects of the universe that Horstmans has for many years sought to conjure through his geometric wall sculptures. His powder-coated steel works consist of a mass of lines that intersect and crossover one another, forming numerous angles that change depending on the perspective from which they are viewed. This creates an optical evocation of movement that belies their essentially static nature.

Dion 1

Dion Horstmans at work in his Sydney studio, creating works for Elektromont.

With their formal precision and hard-edged exactitude, one might assume Horstmans relies on digital process and mathematical mapping to arrive at his finished sculptures. However this is not the case. Rather, it is a physical and intuitive engagement with materials and space that drives his practice. He also cites the angular designs and bold use of colours such as red, black and white present in the Polynesian and Maori art that he grew up with as a prevalent influence.[1] Perhaps another, deeper similarity to these Pacific art forms is reflected in Horstmans’ desire to give material presence to fundamental elements from the natural world that are energetic and essentially intangible – such as speed and light.

While having forged his own distinctive place in the sphere of contemporary sculpture, Horstmans continues an impressive lineage of artists who have for over a century been inspired by the art of tribal cultures. Most famously Pablo Picasso incorporated the ambiguous, non-fixed perspectives and mask like facial features of African tribal art in the iconic Les Demoiselles d’Avignon painted in 1907. In doing so he invented an entirely new visual language and sewed the seeds for the development of Cubism.

Dion 2

Above: Horstmans’s studio wall, with recent works.

Further points of formal and conceptual resonance between Horstmans work and this revolutionary art movement can be detected in the linear-edged, painted facet that Picasso and Georges Braque employed as the multipliable unit of Cubist image-making. These irregular and often angular planes were arranged on the canvas to hint at representational certainties, while simultaneously avoiding them. In a sense this is analogous to the ever-shifting spatial faceting found in Horstmans sculptures, where connecting steel tubes form outlines to imaginary planes, enabling the mind of the viewer to essentially fill in the gaps if they choose. These imaginary planes coalesce to form prisms and cubes – and like the Cubists rejection of the traditional fixed-point perspective, Horstmans sculptures gain their essential dynamism through the many ways they can be visually understood when physically encountered.

Such similarities reflect an enduring artistic drive to reshape and reconstitute positive and negative space, as artists seek to frame another dimension beyond that of lived, everyday reality. This impulse traverses centuries, cultures, and media – and forms the foundation of some of the most profound and interesting artworks.

Horstmans has developed an approach to sculpture that is immediately identifiable, and is clearly driven by his innate sense of balance and ability to achieve beauty within an object. His works are starry, prismic, and universal, seducing the viewer with an oblique, crystalline grace.

[1] Vogue Living, Jan/Feb 2015 p. 47

 

 

Dion Horstmans’ exhibition

24th February 2015 – 14th March 2015

 

FLG

 

 

Karlee Rawkins-Never Never River

Catalogue Essay written by: Melanie Caple BA (FA), MA

Images and Essay Courtesy of Flinders Lane Gallery 

Snake Catcher

Snake Catcher, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 121 x 137cm

It is both a rare and sweet occurrence that within the busyness and blur of everyday life that one can harness pure escapism and withdraw into a fancied solace. Laden with symbolism, spirituality and imagination, Karlee Rawkins achieves just that as she weaves colour, line and pattern with her interpretation of what lies within her personal sphere.

Heavily inspired by Indian Hindu tales and motives, Rawkins presents to us in her latest show, Never Never River an insight into her thoughtsof sacredness and ritual.

Swamp King

Swamp King, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 137 cm

Based in the beautiful mid-north coast of New South Wales, Rawkins has a vast and rich landscape full of luscious plant and fauna specimens to influence her practice, yet her creative mind meanders as she seeks to create her own exotic kingdom.

Building upon painted layers of patterning, scribbling, line and colour, compositions arise within an intuitive act of mark making. Patterns are derived from plants and flowers that have been used in Indian design for centuries, with noted Buddhist and Hindu sites dating back to the third century BC.

It is drawing from her surrounds and by mimicking the patterning to which she is exposed, Rawkins is enabled to construct her own unique dreamt oasis. She describes her use of pattern as an aid in the creation of ambiguity within her compositions; she also directly references historical repetition from ancient religious decoration and design.

Croc Spot

Croc Spot, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 137 x 121 cm

Although her Never Never River is a place of fantasy and invention, her landscape is inspired by the very river that runs along the rear of her rural property. Most wouldn’t be familiar with this pristine waterway, but Rawkins acts as witness to the life that it sustains. Water, therefore, plays an integral part in integrating her works as they come together with colour and contrast.

The metamorphic characteristics of her devised creatures are reflected in the transformative nature of the river which many of them inhabit. Lotus flowers bloom and wilt while their roots tangle with the changing of the current, turtles wade through and feed from the shallows which rise and fall, and birds circulate the air above, following the river from its source to the sea.
Rawkins’s painting Croc Spot invites the viewer in to her own personal water haven as she illustrates the way she visualises the river surface – a sheath of lotus flowers, blossoming and blooming and full of vibrant colour. The sacred lotus, with its expanding petals represents the expansion of the soul, and it is by illustrating and articulating her lotus imagery that Rawkins ‘explores notions of purity and non-attachment.’

Devil frog

Devil Frog, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 137 cm

For the work Snake Catcher, Rawkins references the Garuda – a Hindu god, which exists in the form of an eagle, acting as messenger between the gods and man. The Garuda features prominently in both Hindu and Buddhist culture, and is often depicted on monuments and overlooking communal spaces.

Rawkins rendered her golden Garuda to be central in her imagined landscape. A harmonious relationship between her mythical and allegorical creatures allows one to slip beneath the surface and enter into her world of the sublime. It is a landscape that feels at once familiar yet undiscovered, where crocodiles and turtles, embellished with lotus patterning and coated in striking colour, find form in amongst her intuitive and gestural painting process.

Marching On

Marching On, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 137 cm

Whilst Rawkins admits, ‘There are always quite a few personal references and metaphors for my life and experiences intertwined in my work,’ these poetic notions are often cloaked by the visual display that she depicts. Taking this into consideration as one admires her works, it could also be said that the theme of transformation underlines her exhibition in its entirety: as a homage to physical place, to the Hindu gods that inspire her own mythical creatures, to the imagined landscape that she has spawned, and within her sense of self upon completing a laden body of work.

Never Never River-Karlee Rawkins

24 February – 14 March 2015

FLINDERS LANE GALLERY
137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC
Tues – Fri 11am to 6pm, Sat 11am to 5pm (except for 3pm on the last day of exhibiton.)
info@flg.com.au, (03) 9654 3332
www.flg.com.au
FREE ENTRY

Supergraph 2015!

By Celeste Hawkins

Last night I felt exceptionally lucky to gain a preview of Supergraph before the hoards descended at 6pm. I must say I was mighty impressed with the quality of the works, the mind-blowing originality of the activities and the ease at which I could cruise around and see everything. It’s on all this weekend, so get there if you can!

Read all about it here

artworks for sale

Artworks for sale

Ashley Berchaz and Sophie Mc Pike from Wayward Journey

Wood Engraver-David Frazer

Design Tarot!

DO RE MI

DO RE MI

Portrait

Face-O-Mat-Live portrait drawing

Studio Cockatoo

tent

Have your design Tarot read in here!

Adriana Picker

 

Check it out!

 

The Refugee Art Project-Four years on…

 By Celeste Hawkins

Australia is the only country in the world where there is no end date for refugee detainees.

Pause and think about that for a moment.

One can only imagine the traumatic experience these individuals have faced in their country of origin. Added to that, the heightened stress in boarding an unknown vessel and sailing in perilous conditions. Then finally, to arrive in a ‘processing centre’ or ‘detention centre'; where they are left with no certainty and locked away with no end in sight. There have been numerous reports in the media of the degrading conditions that these detainees must endure whilst in these places. The news of our treatment of asylum seekers has also been made known to the International Community and Human Rights organisations. Thankfully, some detainees have had the opportunity to express their feelings and emotional states through their art making; using whatever means they can find to do so.

“Art can do lots of things. It is a vehicle for self development, for personal expression and for the creation of inner worlds.” 

These are the carefully chosen words of Safdar Ahmed, founder of the Refugee Art Project. Set up by a collective of Artists and fellow Academics, the project is now in its fourth year. Safdar kindly updated me on the work that has been occurring with the project and a bit of background as to how and why he got it started.

jafari fire drawing

Murtaza Ali Jafari, ‘The Fire’, pen and ink on paper, 29 x 41 cm.

What is your own personal experience or reason for being concerned about the plight of asylum seekers?

I have no personal experience of exile, although my family on dad’s side are Indian Muslims who are discriminated against in their own country, so in that context I feel some empathy for scapegoated and marginalised minorities. The bulk of my concern about the plight of asylum seekers stems from not wanting to see our government indulge in abusive and sadistic policies that are explicitly designed to punish refugees and destroy their lives.

You have a Bachelor of Fine Arts and are a University Lecturer. In your Ted talk you discuss art as being your ‘refuge’, especially as a teen. Was this the catalyst to get this project happening?

I think my own experiences of depression and recovery have led me to believe that art can help people to express their difficulties and perhaps even understand them. On a less personal note, a catalyst behind the formation of Refugee Art Project is that many asylum seekers and refugees (particularly those whose cases are in process) do not have a public voice. If they are in detention they are directly censored and kept hidden from the media. If they live in community detention they are often too afraid to express themselves politically in case the Department of Immigration punishes them for it and throws them back into detention. In this context, it seems important to facilitate the art and self-expression of asylum seekers and refugees, which is what our organisation aims to do.

the fence low

Murtaza Ali Jafari, ‘The Fence’, ink and watercolour on paper, 41 x 29 cm.

Can you recall the particular moment or time when you thought about creating the zine project? Did it occur much longer after the art workshops?

Because zines have always been a way for underground communities to define themselves, and to produce their own culture and media—away from hegemonic political and social discourses—they seemed the best format in which to present the amazing artworks that refugees in detention were making. I think the idea for making the zines arose in response to the amazing quantity of black and white drawings refugees produced, which were too delicate and large in number to exhibit. By presenting their art, writing, poetry and occasional interviews, the zines are able to both validate the diverse voices of refugees and to hopefully convey those voices to the Australian public.

What was the initial reaction of the refugee community both inside and outside Villawood?

The reaction amongst refugees towards our zines has been very positive. Even people in detention who aren’t directly involved in our project have read them with interest and discussed them, which is nice to see.

What has been your reaction from the Australian Community?

The reaction from ordinary Australians has been interesting. I think for many readers the zines present an opportunity to hear directly from refugees, which most have never experienced. They also force the reader to see refugees in a new way—as complex human beings who cannot be viewed only through the prism of their persecution and suffering, which is how they are commonly represented in the media and amongst refugee advocates. Hopefully our zines give people a small insight into the former lives, hopes, aspirations, humour, whimsy, sadness, and just the daunting scope of intense, complex and messy emotions that refugees in and out of detention experience.

Hadi dweb

Hadi, ‘The door’, watercolour on paper, 21 x 29 cm.

How about the International Community?

So far there’s been a strong interest from refugee support organisations and zine distributors and libraries in places like the Netherlands, Germany, the US and elsewhere. It’s heartening to create solidarity with other refugee rights organisations and the zines no doubt play a role in showing what the situation of asylum seekers in Australia is like.

Can you discuss one particular case study or individual where they have clearly benefited from their art-making journey?

We have a few zines that contain the work of individuals including a beautiful issue by Murtaza Ali Jafari. Murtaza is a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan who we have known and built a solid friendship with over many years. The zine shows his earliest drawings, which he made in the Villawood detention centre, where he was locked up for over two years. It charts his artistic growth, as his style became progressively more graphic and intense. He says in the zine that art helped him cope with the stress of living in detention and gave him something to feel proud of. His work no doubt refracts the difficulties he experienced at Villawood, but overall I think it’s an amazing testament to his courage and strength.

You are not for profit organisation. Apart from the sales of artworks, where do you obtain the majority of your funding? What areas have the profits of sales been most helpful?

Because we are a not for profit organisation, we rely for our survival on donations, the occasional support of ethical institutions and the generosity of galleries who will not charge a commission on our shows. We are lucky to have a studio in north Parramatta which is made available through PopUp Parramatta and Parramatta council. From the sale of refugee artworks in our exhibitions, all proceeds go straight back to the refugee artists, to support themselves and their families. We’ve organised a few fundraising events to pay for art materials and to keep our classes going, although the zines are not a fundraising instrument. Because we want them to be affordable, our zines pay back their own printing and distribution and that’s about it.

Mohammad

Mohammad, ‘Misery’, pencil on paper, 21 x 29 cm

You said during your Ted Talk that after the first exhibition turn out in 2011, that it had  ‘built a bridge between the people in detention and people in the community’. Has that bridge become stronger over time?

Yes I hope so. I think our exhibitions have fostered greater connections between refugees in detention and people in the general community. Certainly our art workshops in Parramatta have helped to smooth the transition of refugees into the community once they are released from detention. In our workshops, exhibitions and other public events we aim to facilitate the empowerment, belonging and social inclusion of refugees.

Bashir low

Bashir Ahmed, ‘Then and Now’, pen and ink on paper, 21 x 29 cm.

How have the sales been for the zines? Which social platform have you found most successful for getting them out to the public?

We’ve been able to sell our zines through the lovely people at the Take care zine distro here in Sydney and the Sticky Institute in Melbourne. Facebook and Twitter have been the best networking platforms for promoting our zines, and our project more generally.

How is the new documentary coming along?

The Thomas project is very exciting! We are putting the finishing touches on a short interview documentary that was directed and produced by the talented filmmaker, Agnieszka Switala. Thomas Wales is a traditional landowner and spokesperson for the Thanakwith people in Far North Queensland. He worked as a service provider in the remote Sherger detention centre, where he developed a strong compassion and empathy for refugees. I think it’s rare to hear the insights of a first Australian who has experience of working and consolidating relationships with refugees in detention. He also relates the demonisation of refugees in Australian society with the marginalisation and discrimination that indigenous people face in this country, so his perspective is very interesting on that point.

What is the best way for people to help?

People can help us by making a financial donation to our organisation, which helps to pay for art materials and keep our workshops going. I think the zines are an excellent educational resource so it’s also a good idea to pitch them as worthy purchases for your local school or library.

Art News-A major Aquisition

News from Flinders Lane Gallery

 

Flinders Lane Gallery represented artist Josh Robbins has recently completed his most ambitious painting to date. Measuring 200 x 800cm and comprised of eight panels, Roost invites the viewer to enter into a surreal and fantastical world where time stops, birds flock, tree branches meander and respite is offered from the busy world that surrounds.

Roost 2014

Josh Robbins, Roost 2014, oil and mixed media on linen, 200 x 800cm.

 

Australian lawfirm Holding Redlich have acquired this significant work for their permanent collection, to be displayed in their Bourke Street office reception area in Melbourne. The artwork was officially unveiled by Holding Redlich’s Chris Lovell & artist Josh Robbins on the morning of Tuesday 23rd December, with the firm’s staff and media sources.

 

Roost

Josh Robbins Roost 2014 (detail, panel 1) oil and mixed media on linen 200 x 800 cm

 

 

The artwork will be generously returned to the gallery in May for Robbins’s upcoming major solo exhibition. Roost will be showcased alongside a new body of work from the 5th – 23 May 2015 and we are excited to once again be surrounded by his beautiful, flamboyant birds.

 

 

As always with Robbins’s practice, these are not your common garden variety of sparrow or pigeon but rather the result of a special sort of imaginary natural selection. Full of daring individuality, they are transformational shape-shifters, each fashioned according to the artist’s own desire for beauty and aesthetic pleasure.

Roost panel 2

Josh Robbins Roost 2014 (detail: panel 2) oil and mixed media on linen 200 x 800 cm

Artwork in holding area

Above: The artwork in situ at the Holding Redlich reception area in Bourke Street, Melbourne.

 

Roost panel 8

Josh Robbins Roost 2014 (detail: panel 8) oil and mixed media on linen 200 x 800 cm

FLINDERS LANE GALLERY
137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC
Tues – Fri 11am to 6pm, Sat 11am to 5pm (except at 3pm on the last Saturday of each exhibition.)
info@flg.com.au, (03) 9654 3332
www.flg.com.au
FREE ENTRY