From Sharne Wolff…
‘Old world with a twist’ might be the best way to describe this exhibition of paintings by Tasmanian artist Michael McWilliams. Earlier this year, the artist was selected as a finalist for the Glover Prize with a work entitled Bush Blankets where he experimented with the quirky idea of placing white wool blankets in a landscape. McWilliams has now followed up with his new series of Blanket Capers where the artist has placed native animals or sheep, dogs, cattle, rhinoceros or his own pet pugs – along with a blanket or two – in his traditional landscapes. McWilliam’s large paintings are acrylic on linen but he has managed to achieve a level of light/dark contrast normally associated with oil paint. Several small works are painted on timber board and feature detailed borders.
McWilliams likes to play with aspects of art history and his sense of humour is evident. But there’s also a serious side and some social commentary to this work. The artist uses the technique of the ‘gaze’ where the animals, who usually take centre stage, look directly at the viewer – often with a plea, or in despair. Sometimes, as in the case of the extinct Thylacine (or Tasmanian Tiger), it’s all too late. The surreal twist to this show is further emphasised when it’s viewed at one of Sydney’s newest contemporary Galleries.
Until 29 July
MiCK Gallery, Paddington
Pic: Michael McWilliams, Clothesline Collaboration, 2012. Acrylic on linen 120 x 180cm. Courtesy the artist and MiCK Gallery.