Stacked, packed to the rafters, jammed full of stuff. In Lorna Grear’s new body of work surprising effects happen from the stacked paintings. Recycled plywood is used as grounds; painted and stacked to cause deeper spaces. Shadows move within the works. Meaning is inherent. Silhouettes are painted on tourist stencil templates of Australian fauna; possums, platypus and kangaroos. Once discarded, used now. The piles of plywood make the issue of space real: 3D. The viewer can travel into them.
Other stuff happens; heroic symbols meet Australiana. Hidden images are there, gallant heroes of a past era. The painting Gruner’s Spring Rainbow uses Elioth Gruner’s image, Spring Frost to re-visit a forgotten landscape. George Raper’s Waratah has also been referenced. There are others; Meere’s fabulous woman in his Beach Pattern, re- envisaged in, Purple Play. Von Guerard’s cloaked man in Northeast View from the Top of Mount Kosciusko is referenced in Guerard’s Traveller. In another, Brolgas from Spirit of the Plains move their way across stencil outlines and Rainbow Warrior brings Gruner’s cow into the pattern. In a playful and intuitive process ideas of place and identity are revealed.
Along side the discarded templates, left over packaging is also used. A shout to Rauschenberg, these cardboard boxes and plastic wraps have been used as canvas for paintings. They are displayed as a smorgasbord of miscellaneous ideas.
Colour too, is celebrated and falls easily into place. Sometimes the colour comes from an old T- Shirt design, other times it belongs to midnight; mostly it is intuitive and based on rhythms. The personal is hidden in the choice of colour.
As much as the work references Australian art history the idea remains abstract. Within this abstraction are contradictions of dualities. Baroque but minimal; formal yet easy; geometric and at the same time organic. It is no longer Formalist, no longer Hard Edge; it has Op Art references, even a Modernist theme. It could be old and new.
Lorna has held numerous solo shows including the Tailor Room Gallery,Sydneybetween 1998 – 2003 and Peloton in 2005 and 2009. She is a graduate of bothSydneyCollegeof the Arts and The National Art School. Lorna currently teaches art history and painting at South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE and is in the middle of curating an exhibition titled ‘The Baker’s Dozen’ for UTS Gallery in 2012.
-STACKED @ Peloton runs 24 November – 17 December 2011
Peloton Gallery 25 Meagher Street Chippendale,Sydney NSW 2008
Lorna Grear’s exhibition at Peloton is an eclectic collection of work. Titles such as Puzzle pictures, New World Order Maps, Mac Pacs and History paintings are on display together held under the theme of CATCH; alluring to a game of tag.
Her Puzzle pictures utilize children’s toys as solutions to problems of form and space. These works on paper use the shape of the play object as the next layer in the pattern of abstraction. Underlying layers reference, the grid, geometric abstraction, text and a found circle. The solution of these puzzle paintings is to find a point at which these various forms interplay and connect.
The New World Order Maps reclaim the cliché title, making reference to world maps, abstract thought and visual conundrums. Small in size these complex paintings blend the irrational with logic, structure with openness. Colour is the lynchpin which holds the works together.
• Automated Cutouts, Paint on MDF. 30 cm x 18 cm, 2009
The ‘Mac Pacs’ and ‘Automated cutouts’ are a nod to the readymade. Paraphernalia is gathered from Mac Books, cardboard packaging and discarded stencils from 3D assembly toys. Lorna makes aesthetic objects out of stuff we usually throw away keeping in mind art histories such as minimalism and constructivism. In this series re-occurring ideas are played out. The packaging has become an aesthetic material used as the basis for the image. The discarded stencil is painted and becomes the layer in a relief work.
Mac Pac 1, cardboard, paint and sponge, 2009
The bigger paintings surmise all this into singular images. These paintings reference iconic 18th century paintings re fashioned into flag like images. In ‘Swirling Bungaree’ the silhouette of the Aboriginal tracker named Bungaree is used as a heroic symbol of a ‘welcoming native’, repositioned in an op art mandala. In another painting, ‘Liberty and Gavroche’; Delacroix’s leading lady appears in transparent red. Her silhouette is positioned as a rambling pattern climbing to the top of the picture plane.
Liberty and Gavroche, oil on canvas, 110 x 90 cm
These paintings tease out ideas of world change through revolution and discovery. They offer a contradictory image; on one hand an objective political understanding of power and on the other; a spiritual independence from rationality.
However disperse this collection seems, there is a strong connection between the works. An indefinable space is repeated, a purely visual space where the foreground tries to weave itself behind the picture plane. The space within these works strengthens the paradox between creating an illusion of a figurative 3-dimensional space and the plastic formal space of flatness.
Lorna states that the illusion of 3 dimensions isn’t what interests her.
‘It is much more interesting to complicate the equation and make flatness more compelling. Whilst creating an image I try to add more and more to the structure whilst all the time allowing each layer to have its position in the foreground.’
…The overall interplay between the various and often opposing elements is integral to the painting.
Each layer builds upon a personal iconography. The grid references academia, the found circle- movement and letters being the language in a child’s life. The latest works collect ideas from art history, flirting with notions of liberty and revolution.
New World Order Maps, acrylic on wood panel, 20 x 24 cm, 2009
Lorna’s work has expanded to include a range of influences; these influences traverse time, place and concept. To borrow Nicolas Bourriaud’s words,
‘Artists are responding to a new globalised perception. They traverse a cultural landscape saturated with signs and create new pathways between multiple formats of expression and communication.’
Bourriaud calls it an altermodern culture, ‘a new modernity is emerging, reconfigured to an age of globalisation – understood in its economic, political and cultural aspects: an altermodern culture’.
Initially seen as disparate, these works relate through a complex understanding of narratives. The discarded object, child’s play, ideas of liberty and the use of the found image build an image of a globalised state of culture. The debris from society, the forgotten images from art history and the use of amusement objects are used in paintings to construct convoluted spaces and intricate patterns; they invoke a multiplicity of meaning. Lorna’s work is as much a metaphor for our collective contemporary psyche as they are journeys in a compelling and complex space.