kokoso
Khai Liew Kokoso 2009 cabinet in American black walnut 1200 x 1200 x 500

Here’s an artistic collaboration of breathtaking elegance.  Three artists- Brian Castro, Khai Liew, John Young, three disciplines- literature, design and visual art respectively, incorporated in one exhibition. Passages is curated by arguably one of Australia’s most experienced and respected museum directors, TWMA’s Inaugural Director, Maudie Palmer AO. This is the last time she will curate at TWMA. The Museum’s new Director, Victoria Lynn, takes up the position at the end of this month. Passages is a fitting finale to Maudie Palmer’s time at TWMA.

The exhibition’s title suggests travel.  Travel is significant in the lives of the artists.  All three were born in Asia but now live and work in Australia.  Thus, Passages poses questions about mulitculturalism and the concept of ‘Asian Australianness’.

While Maudie Palmer has created a fascinating context, each artist’s work stands confidently in its own right. Brian Castro’s words poetically evoke memories and ideas, engaging the viewer’s intellect and emotion. (Not bad for six or seven lines of prose.)  Khai Liew’s furniture literally did take my breath away. John Young’s paintings push out the boundaries of contemporary painting, convincing me at least, that the art of painting is alive and well in Australia. That said, it’s the clever way all three disciplines subtly bounce off each other, that had me smiling the most. Passages is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

I leave you with some images and words from the exhibition.

Naive20and20Sentimental20Painting20X
John Young, Naïve and Sentimental Painting X, Winter 2011, oil on linen, 1450 x 1900 Courtesy of Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne

“Young downloads- at times randomly- a thousand digital images per day. Transformed overnight through a system of filters, a selection of the altered and now abstracted images is then scaled up and fastidiously realised in oil on linen.” from  Passages exhibition catalogue essay, Making a case for the interrupted dance, by Wendy Walker, published by TarraWarra Museum of Art, February 2012

NAIVE & SENTIMENTAL

Here in the eucalyptus light of the heart of Australia, I wondered why the table I bought was stamped on the under-side: “WHITE LABOUR”. It was a political Party, I was sure. Or else an import from a Russian gulag.   The weight of history was heavy in its veins and in my ignorance I felt impelled by an uneasy empathy.

Was it a paradox, this slave trade beyond my ken?

Brian Castro 2012

stephanie_side_oak
Khai Liew, Stephanie 2011, armchair in American white oak, cow hide. 760 x 540 x 560. Passages closes on 27th May 2012