Hossein and Angela Valamanesh are both fascinated with the natural world but are inspired by it in different ways.
Their current exhibition New Works celebrates their unique approach to their respective practices but also displays their shared vision and aesthetic.
“When the work is displayed you see visual similarities and we both focus on texture,” Hossein says. “It’s about materiality and our care of the way we make our work.”
“The work is really compatible. It works together visually,” Angela says. “There are lots of connections to do with nature and culture and both practices are quite precise. There are also some quite significant differences as well.”
Angela isn’t inspired directly from nature but is interested in investigating where art and science meet, basing much of her practice on microscopic imagery, in particular the older scientific illustrations from the Enlightenment.
This is particularly evident in the works The Space Between Things 1, 2 and 3 which pay homage to Mary Delany, a 1700s botanical illustrator from England who did small collages of plants.
Other pieces such as Shades of Pollen: Yellow to Red and Shades of Pollen: Yellow to Green reflect her research into the vast colours of the pollen grains of a flower, in particular, the pollen charts by Dorothy Hodges. Angela has also experimented with some new materials other than clay such as wire and foam rubber, evident in the piece Long Shot.
Another work Something about a bird brain, presents a selection of amazing shapes and forms that are based on cross-section drawings of the brains of different vertebrae such as snakes and crocodiles.
Angela Valamanesh, Something about a bird brain
“The scale is a bit arbitrary in a way but they all have this amazing symmetry,” Angela says. “If you were a biologist studying comparative anatomy you would be able to identify them.”
Hossein, on the other hand, uses materials often sourced directly from the natural environment and creates sculptures and installation works that deal with issues surrounding identity, place and time.
In this exhibition Hossein has included works made from an ornamental pear tree he found. Attracted to the parallel lines and formal nature of the tree, one of the pieces, In Between, features ladders, often seen in his work. It’s not clear whether these are going up or down, hence the title.
The other piece made from the pear tree is suspended off the ground and includes gold leaf where Hossein has trimmed the branches creating the illusion of stars.
Hossein Valamanesh, Garden & Cosmos #2
Garden and Cosmos #1 and #2 also feature in the exhibition and are inspired by the 2010 exhibition Hossein saw at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Garden and cosmos: the royal paintings of Jodhpur. These works are small panels and he has covered one of the panels with gold.
“In these works, actual leaves of bamboo and lotus have become the garden and also the cosmos by hiding beneath the layer of gold,” he says. “I have used a grid pattern as a simple geometric form to allow the materials to speak for themselves and also highlight the textural qualities of the leaves.”
In March next year the two artists will travel to Western Australia where they will exhibit together at Turner Galleries and Angela will undertake a residency through their Art Angels program.
Hossein and Angela Valamanesh: New Works
Until Friday, December 22
Header image: Angela Valamanesh, Space between things 3 (detail.)