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Adelaide art guide:
What's on in May

Courtesy of James Nguyen, Nguyễn Thị Kim Dung & Nguyễn Thị Kim Nhung
James Nguyen, The Magic Pudding/Bánh Thần, digital video, 2019. Image courtesy: James Nguyen, Nguyễn Thị Kim Dung & Nguyễn Thị Kim Nhung

Adelaide Review arts writer John Neylon surveys the city’s visual arts landscape to pick out some of the highlights for the month of May.

Modernism should have taught us that art will grow under wet cement. It’s unstoppable, even if galleries temporarily close their doors. There is always a way.

Right now, the shows are still going on around Adelaide. Fire up your device or desk top, get with the programme and treat your on-line viewing as an entry into a parallel universe where originals create shadow plays on pixilated cave walls. Here are some online samples.

Saul Steed
Installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres featuring Tales of Enchantment by Judith Wright, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Art Gallery of South Australia
Monster Theatres, 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art

The Monster Theatres virtual tour is full of hooks and glimpses of works and ideas designed to capture the imagination. A physically large and diverse show featuring over twenty artists and companies is not going to fit neatly into the ten minute or so window that screen visitors are likely to give to a scanning experience but there’s enough meat on the bones to paint the picture of a state gallery doing the Tennessee two-step with the dark side. Curator Leigh Robb sharing insights into the thematic of this very curious hybrid ‘monster-theatres’ is illuminating. Take your pick of selected artists. The clip introducing Megan Cope’s compelling installation, Untitled (Old Kahibah) does real justice to the integrity and materiality of this work. There are complementary resources, particularly podcasts and artist profiles for the keener visitors or incremental browsers. Site navigation, once out the cocoon of the Monster Theatres virtual tour, requires a bit of dedication to hop from Exhibitions to What’s On to open up the full menu. Persevere.

Note: AGSA will reopen from 8 June, with an extended season of Monster Theatres running until August


Nate Finch, Everyone’s Busier than Me According to Kennith

Stephen Glassborow, Sculptures
Nate Finch, Paintings
BMG Art
Until 16 May

It’s viewing by appointment at BMG Art. But the current show, Stephen Glassborow and Nate Finch is online. The previous exhibition, Still Life, Still Lives was supported by a very sophisticated virtual exhibition tour complete with lush orchestration, sensuous pans, fade-ins and languid zooms. The pause button worked overtime to fix on particular works before they were swept away on wings of song. The virtual tour of Glassborow/Finch is a more measured experienced. The jazzy inflections of the score imply a glass of Mosquito Hill Pinot in hand while gliding like a disembodied camera lens around the walls. Daniela Pinna’s video work strikes a good balance between slow pans which allow the eye to absorb the scale and variation of various works, and close-ups which draw attention to each artist’s aesthetic and technical priorities. If curious, check out each artist’s personal site to amplify their respective background stories. Finch opens his by declaring that his work “explores relationships that develop between mark intensities, colour harmonies and surface textures.” Glassborow says that he attempts “to bend the traditional attitudes of the figure, while still retaining my view of an aesthetic balance.” Glassborow has exhibited his distinctive figurative sculptures at BMG Art previously and has a strong web presence


Paul Maheke, Tout en sollicitant le soleil (cupola 1/2), 2012, single channel digital video. Performer: Francis Beaumont Deslauriers

recess presents
ACE Open (online)
8 May – 24 July

During recess presents, each week a new video and complementary text will appear online. Curator, Olivia Koh says, “As one work is phased out another appears, so that the sequenced works inform each other like a string of sentences, or a body spinning in a landscape – a collection of meanings that are not definitive but always on the move.”

recess intends to draw from diverse points across the lands that make up contemporary Australia to showcase artists who explore documentary and fiction through experimental approaches to the video medium.

So, this is a sign up number– get with the programme from 8th May and ride it through successive videos and texts until late July. Subscriber viewing. That shouldn’t be too hard, just set device calendars to flag the schedule and you can drop in any time. Paul Maheke’s Tout en sollicitant le soleil (cupola 1/2) launches the series. A dance spinning on the spot with sequined dress flaring, like a whirling dervish, has become for Olivia Koh, a well-spring of tranquillity in crowded moments. The advantage for at-home accessing of this video is that it can repeated, over and over to allow the mesmeric action of spinning overcome desire to impose meaning. If the scheduled succession of video experiences eventually coalesces as a string of sentences, or even a story – that’s to be seen. Stay tuned.   

Read more

ACE Open comes full circle with an exhibition made for this moment of endless screen time


Sam Roberts
Dijana Komad, Recital, 2020, dimensions variable toilet paper, glue, powertex

Dijana Komad, Recital
Collective Haunt
Until 30 May 

Dijana Komad’s exhibition of traditionally inspired vessels made from paper has been beautifully photographed by Sam Roberts, which can be seen via the Collective Haunt Instagram and Facebook, along with footage of an interview with Komad.

John Neylon

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John Neylon is an award-winning art critic and the author of several books on South Australian artists including Hans Heysen: Into The Light (2004), Aldo Iacobelli: I love painting (2006), and Robert Hannaford: Natural Eye (2007).

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