Arts writer John Neylon’s exhibition guide for the month of December.
Zoe Freney: Motherology
Collective Haunt, Level 1/68 The Parade Norwood
Until Saturday, December 8
Ever wondered what motherhood involves? Artist Zoe Freney has some insights. “Chicken feeder, poodle groomer, child delouse, home and houser. Sock smoother, lace tier, midnight crier. Tear blotter, wipe-up-snotter.” The list goes on. It reads like the incantation of a very sleep deprived parent, distracted in the small hours by thoughts that swing widely from motherly affection to resentment.
The “artist, teacher, lover, poet, partner, friend” within finds an outlet in physical states of balletic yoga grooves and catatonic collapse as captured in video sequences of the artist performing in front of Bouguereau’s Ice Maiden Virgin in the Art Gallery of South Australia or alternately running some relaxation routines in a laundromat, her body bending alarmingly like a towel in a tumble dryer. The hallucinatory ‘I dreamt I did yoga in the Art Gallery’ sequences parodies clichéd notions of motherhood as an idealised state of purity and selfless servitude. But the laundromat scenarios, with the ugg booted and trakky-dacked artist stretched out like a Baroque saint awaiting ascension into heaven are cut-through images which inject this body of work with ironic humour.
Dianne Longley: Allsorts for Sweet Travels
Rimona Kedem: Tapestries
Until Thursday, December 13
Looking at Dianne Longley’s intricate images is like falling down a rabbit hole into a world of fabulous make-believe. The technical assurance and experimental nature of her printmaking practice allows her to play with the viewer in conjuring creatures and locales that might have been drawn from fairy tales, exotic operas, medieval bestiaries or myths and legends from an antique land. Play has always been central to her work. “I like leaving things open, like my characters in these artworks, who might be sinister or just having fun. A lot of my ideas and images belong to the history of the grotesque. Exploring the grotesque and things that don’t fit neat formulas means getting back to reality and playing with ideas of who we really are.” The remarkable aspect of her visual imagination is that the creatures, hybrids and humanoids that populate her prints have been synthesised from a wide variety of sources as diverse as ancient manuscripts and contemporary Japanese anime. Sweet dreams if you can avoid the monsters.
Rimona Kedem’s turbo-charged take on life pumps up the visual energy of these free-spirited paintings. Everything it seems is grist for the mill – memories, relationships, emotions, and events big and small. Kedem has adopted visual strategies including tilt-up perspective and mosaic-like infills of flat colour that encourage the kind of open-ended engagement associated with the imagery of artists such as Chagall, where everything appears to be floating in a prism of possibilities. Up close, the energy of the brush work picks up the pace. These images really know how to dance.
Until Thursday, December 20
At the end of the North East Road, Tea Tree Gully signposts the traveller into the Hills where at this time of the year the deep green orchards set against blond hillsides are picture perfect. Galley 1855 is housed in a neat as a pin sandstone building, built in 1855 as the local Council Chambers. So the Gallery is treading on hallowed heritage grounds. Credit to Tea Tree Gully Council for making the bold decision to translate the building into a dedicated exhibition venue rather than applying a few coats of paint, scattering some historical photographs and artefacts and leaving it to doze for another century.
The Gallery continues to reward this commitment with a lively exhibition (and other events) program, coordinated by Arts and Cultural Officer, Niki Vouis, which is really helping to put the ‘Gully’ on the South Australian cultural map. An excellent example is the current Collaborative Variations exhibition featuring the outcomes of creative partnerships between Adelaide artists and regional/interstate artists. Compact in size but big on ideas, Variations is a journey in and lesson on how a meeting of minds and skills can get results – sometimes quirky as in the Christobel Kelly/Lorelei Medcalf shape shift monoprint series, and the Shags/Simone Tippett subversive take on library catalogue cards (‘Poetry in the Dunes: an anthology of drunken surf poetry’) – and sometimes engrossed in their own thoughts and secret pleasures.
Feature image: Zoe Freney, Gentle Hum , oil on canvas, 76 x 92 cm