KAREN BLACK — CURRENT CONTEMPORARY ‘MAKING DO’, SOLO EXHIBITION
Karen Black is motivated by a research-led practice. While assembling information and personal stories from conflict zones, bright oil paints are simultaneously rendered thickly onto her boards and canvases Black’s tableaux paintings evokes desolation and despair which blend the historical with the mythical, traversing the complex interchange between the personal and the political; ‘Making Do’ is not only Karen Black’s most ambitious exhibition to date, but it also re-instates the artist as social and political commentator.
“In April this year I travelled to the Syrian border with an art project, to mentor over 350 Syrian refugees under the age of fifteen. I was faced with a colourful, extraordinary landscape and the most beautiful, hospitable people you could meet, juxtaposed with centuries of history and tragedy. Thousands of refugees are making do with whatever they have.”
Previously Black has sourced research material, images and personal stories via the Internet or correspondents in particular conflict zones. However, in April this year she travelled with the Karam Foundation as an art mentor to Syrian Refugees. Travelling with a team of over 40 mentors from all over the world, Karen worked with the Al Jeel School for Syrian refugees in Reyhanli, Turkey. The program helps over 300 children who are currently displaced along the Syrian-Turkish border - many of whom have not been to school for over three years due to the civil war in their country. This body of work represents a poignant visual translation of the experiences she bore witness to.
Black’s work can be found in various public collections including Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; the Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane; Artbank, Sydney; the Macquarie Group Collection and the Salsali Private Museum, Dubai. International solo exhibitions include presentations at ARTHK12, Hong Kong (2012); Art Fair Tokyo (2012); Art Stage Singapore (2011) and Art Taipei (2011). Black has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Art & Australia/Credit Suisse Contemporary Art Prize, 2013, and Griffith University Art Gallery’s GAS Award, 2011.
ALEX SETON – INSTALLATION CONTEMPORARY ‘SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM’
Sydneysiders and international art fair patrons will be familiar with Alex Seton’s marble sculptures. The epic 300 piece installation ‘Someone Else’s Problem’ will be on display at the entrance to the fair. ‘Someone Else’s Problem’ is an extension of Alex Seton’s body of work which explores the issue of asylum seekers.
The installation is a mass of seemingly discarded paddles that signify the many people currently seeking refuge from persecution or fleeing war torn regions around the globe.
The work proposes that under ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ Australia renders the current international refugee crisis as ‘someone else’s problem’. In turning away and denying the rights of these individuals, Australia ignores its obligations to international treaties on Human Rights. The labeling of asylum seekers as ‘illegals’ is not only fundamentally false, but also dehumanises the issue, compounding the problem of alienation.
‘Someone Else’s Problem’ seeks to remind the audience how lucky few are to enjoy lives of peaceful opportunities in one’s homeland. The paddle, a symbol of assistance, asks how can those asking for help be ignored when the privileged have so much to spare?
Seton’s exploration of this issue began in 2013 with his major installation ‘Someone died trying to have a life like mine’, created for the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Dark Heart, at the Art Gallery of South Australia. It was further developed in his 2014 solo exhibition ‘Refoulement’ at Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney and the travelling exhibition ‘Last Resort’ at McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, Linden New Art, and Rockhampton Art Gallery (2014-2015).
This new work continues to develop the themes presented in these exhibitions by reminding the viewer that behind this highly politicised issue there are individual lives being risked, and that seeking asylum concerns the fundamental right to aspire to a better life.
AIDA TOMESCU — CURRENT CONTEMPORARY
Sullivan+Strumpf are excited to preview a small number of works by Aida Tomescu at Sydney Contemporary that will be included in her first solo show with the Gallery in November. Among this preview will be Aida Tomescu’s magnum opus, ‘Eyes in the Heat’ 2015. Undeniably explosive, the diptych, after which the show is named, is Tomescu’s largest and most ambitious work to date. With a career that spans over thirty-five years and more than thirty solo shows to date, the exhibition will also celebrate Tomescu’s 60th Birthday.
Tomescu’s artistic process involves continually applying layer upon layer and then scraping and removing paint until she reaches a resolution, where the painting establishes an identity of its own; it becomes an experience in itself. An impressive display that will cover both levels of the Gallery, the paintings display intense energies, vitality, and a powerful abstract vision that has marked Tomescu as one of Australia’s most celebrated and innovative artists.
Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1955, Aida Tomescu has been living and working in Sydney since 1980. Tomescu studied at the Institute of Arts, Bucharest, was awarded a Diploma of Visual Arts in 1977 and shortly after her arrival to Australia completed a postgraduate degree at the City Art Institute in 1983.
With a career that spans over thirty-five years and over thirty solo shows to date, Tomescu’s powerful abstract vision has marked her as one of Australia’s most original and innovative artists. Tomescu is represented in a plethora of major museums, regional galleries, and university and corporate collections across Australia and throughout the world including; The National Gallery of Australia, The National Gallery Of Victoria, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand, and the British Museum, London.
TONY ALBERT + STEPHEN PAGE (BANGARRA DANCE THEATRE) MOVING TARGETS - INSTALLATION CONTEMPORARY
A collaboration between visual artist Tony Albert and choreographer Stephen Page, ‘Moving Targets’ is a multimedia installation which pays homage to the vulnerability and strength of young Aboriginal men. Set to a soundscape by David Page and screened around different parts of a stripped-back, beaten-up car, the choreography explores notions of identity and masculinity, as well as addressing more complex, globally resonant issues concerning racial profiling
and miscarriages of justice perpetrated against young black men. 'Moving Targets' was commissioned by Carriageworks for the exhibition '24 Frames Per Second.
LIAM O’BRIEN - VIDEO CONTEMPORARY
Liam O’Brien’s 2013 Artbank Commission ‘Whistling in the Dark’ will be presented at Video Contemporary. A showcase of contemporary Australian and International artists working with video. 'Whistling in the Dark' depicts a personified hand attempting to drag a relatively enormous sack from an idle position across an arbitrary line in a public space. O’Brien uses this absurd action to question the validity of struggle in the pursuit of self-determined goals, and how this struggle may appear meaningless from a particular perspective.
Since graduating with first class honours from Griffith University in 2010, O’Brien has been making work that examines the condition of the individual under late capitalism, with a particular interest in the ambiguities of personal freedom. O’Brien challenges everyday life’s ideologies and rituals through performative actions presented live or through still-image or time-based representations.