NIMOY MIGHT BE DEAD BUT HIS IDEALS LIVE ON at Verge’s post-grad show.
It’s that time of year. Your throat clogs with a combo of pollen and dust whipped up by the traffic and hot Sydney wind - the on/off rain mixes with the sweat of getting off at the wrong station and walking an extra click on a muggy afternoon.
But we eventually made it to IN TRANSLATION, the post-graduate show presented at Verge Gallery and curated by students of The University of Sydney. In attendance was a mix of young, old, colourful and rich Sydneysiders, most of whom were either the parents or kids of the exhibiting artists and mingled with a light art school/hipster dusting.
Back in my day, postgrad students looked like they’d only just started to shave and maybe feel embarrassed about living with their folks. This particular batch were an older bunch who seemed rich in time and probably money - their experience informing a body of work rippling with an endearing - if not slightly sheltered - character.
The refracted colours of the first piece delivered an aesthetic sugar fix, the use of medium adding to the sense and weight of its presence, like the real work was obscured behind a screen. The rainbow stripes of the first in the series were mirrored on the tee the artist was wearing, making the separation of art from artist literally impossible. Other executions carried pigment-leached greys, black and whites compounding for a bleak, dour effect and lead the viewer from optimism through despair as they move through the space and along the wall.
Next, I found myself in something like a psychic’s circus tent, with the artist forming the tentpole of the piece - figuratively and otherwise - again making it impossible to separate art from artist. Sitting at her card table, she invites the viewer to play a game of life and death. The red/green cards of chance simulates the battle a patient fights when they’re hanging onto life - a bitterly fast round that ends abruptly and randomly. The apt metaphor is stronger thanks to the artist’s presence, her years on Earth adding credibility and authentic motivation to her study of the mortal coil. If inspiration springs from the subconscious, what preoccupation contributed to this?
There was more work in the windows and on the walls of the main room, sandbagged by sandbags with words written on them like ‘being’ ‘power’ ‘destruction’ and ‘grief’. Another existential statement from someone traveling through life’s third act? Are the bags a subconscious attempt to slow time’s swallowing tide?
Strengthened by its placement against a white wall, the shadows cast by [piece] punctuated its reason for being while the bright colours of a large canvas contrast tightly with a similar but colourless black and white version on an oppositional wall. Make of that what you want.
Overall it made me think: there’s nothing wrong with prosperity. These artists certainly seemed to be enjoying theirs - rich in money, time, friends and family, all of which put to good use. Maybe they were fans of Spock from Star Trek and his mantra: “Live long and prosper”. They were the living embodiment.