Featuring a broad selection of contemporary South Australian artists, Anything at All required two leaps of faith: by the artists to create the work, and by the viewer to accept that anything has the potential to become art.
These artists have all made the leap for curator John Neylon – Narelle Autio, Deidre But-Husaim, Sasha Grbich, Aldo Iacobelli, Ian North, Sophia Nuske, Christopher Orchard and Geoff Wilson. “The artists have started from an almost intangible starting point,” says Neylon, who also writes for The Adelaide Review. “It’s part of their practice but at the same time it’s like a little leap in the dark where they are daring themselves to actually discover something meaningful while they are doing it.”
Christopher Orchard, PERFECT (detail), 2016, graphite on paper and found objects, 70 x 60 x 70.5 cm (table), objects on table variable. Courtesy the artist, BMGArt, Adelaide and Wagner Galleries, Sydney, photograph by James Edwards
Autio, for example, uses a roving eye approach to her practice. She deliberately occupies a certain space or area where she thinks there might be the potential to capture a unique image. It’s unpredictable but it’s precisely what Autio is hoping to catch: a moment in time which disappears as quickly as it presents itself. In the work George Street (angel) (2001), Autio has captured the moment a person in fancy dress (dressed as an angel) is getting out of a taxi. “If you don’t look too closely it becomes a transcendental image, where it almost looks like an angel coming out of a taxi,” explains Neylon. “It’s like contemporary life has collapsed into some kind of baroque fantasia through the association of random events taking place.”
Narelle Autio, George Street (angel), 2001, pigment print, 37 x 55.5 cm, edition of 10. Courtesy the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide
Another example of circumstances or a unique situation being the trigger for an artwork is the painting Ashbrook Avenue (2016) by Iacobelli. After observing a woman regularly riding past his house on a bicycle carrying a bunch of flowers, he became curious. He discovered that she had lost her husband and was visiting his grave. He felt a sense of sadness and it played on his imagination to the point where he felt he needed to create an artwork about that. “I talk about that ‘aboutness’ being possibly the idea of a woman putting flowers on a grave or perhaps it’s the idea of the artist noticing the event and being motivated to make a painting about it,” Neylon says. These works are two examples where the artists have taken these everyday events and, through the materiality of expression in the form of a photograph or a painting, turned them into works of art.
Geoff Wilson, The Wheelbarrow of the Flinders Ranges, 2015, oil on canvas, 65 x 45 cm. Courtesy the artist, photograph by John Neylon
In the case of Nuske, she takes everyday objects and turns them into works of art. For this exhibition, she has created matches made of porcelain that will be positioned near the fireplace at the Adelaide Central Gallery. The fireplace, which is usually concealed, will be revealed for the exhibition transforming the gallery into a living room. There will also be matches in the studio next to a fire hydrant. Wilson’s painting of a car wash at Belair, titled Primaries Exit One Way, was stimulated by a conversation he was having with an ex-student about what to paint, he suggested there might be a painting in the car wash. Neylon then suggested to Wilson that he paint it and he has gone ahead and done that. “There is that metaphysical moment in time when he realised that a thing might become a work of art,” Neylon says.
Deidre But-Husaim, The Reclaiming, 2016, oil on linen, 137 x 152 cm. Courtesy the artist and Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide, photograph by Grant Hancock
Anything at All looks at that moment when an artist’s idea evolves into a work of art, whether it’s through chance or a deliberate repurposing of an object or notion to become a realised form. “It’s about these moments that suddenly come along and, like a bird on a bough, they land somewhere and suggest that something can become something else,” Neylon says. “It’s as simple as that.” Anything at All Adelaide Central School of Art August 16 – September 17 acsa.sa.edu.au