Test Pattern

Reviews Feb 24, 2012 No Comments

“The young ones, they’re the young ones – and the young ones shouldn’t be afraid to live, love, while the flame is strong… For they may not be the young ones very long….” Sharne Wolff reports from Brisbane.

Ryan Renshaw Gallery is a small Brisbane art space that punches above its weight. Depending on when you visit and who’s exhibiting, the Gallery somehow moves seamlessly between the feel of a well-run artist run initiative (ARI) and an edgy white box. I always get the impression that this is not some kind of marketing ploy but more of a genuine effort by Renshaw to show emerging contemporary artists while trying to make enough money to keep the whole show running smoothly. Renshaw’s window space is also lent out to ARI’s at various times – currently Diagram ARI has use of it.

Yavuz Erkan, Milk (2011)
(from the series Unorthodox Aphorisms)
Edition of 8, archival pigment print, 50cm x 50cm,

As part of its mantra, the Gallery is dedicated to supporting the young Brisbane art scene and even young collectors. At the end of each year Renshaw holds a show with some of his best artists – everything under $500 but you can only buy if you’re under 35. It’s advertised with the line “Tell your Sons – Tell your Daughters”. No doubt some people do – and send their kids along with a full wallet.

For the past four years Renshaw has held a show under the title ‘Test Pattern’ which gives several graduates fresh from art school their first taste of the commercial art world. This year’s exhibition includes the work of six artists in varied arts practices – Jared Worthington, Hannah Piper, Caitlin Franzmann, Yavuz Erkan, Dord Burrough and Dana Lawrie. Each is a recent graduate of the Queensland College of Art at Griffith University. There’s no money for glossy brochures or catalogues in this show – but it is a real show – with a proper well-attended opening and plenty of attention from media [and The Art Life as it turns out]. Although I saw an electronic preview, the works look so different in size and scale once in the Gallery it served to reinforce to me (once again) that although the internet is an excellent marketing tool and wonderful reminder, there’s nothing like seeing work in the real.

Dord Burrough, Baby Pink (2012)
Oil on canvas, 26cm x 20cm

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the opening night. Although this meant I was able to see the art without the crowds I missed seeing the full installation for ‘This is not a rainbow (2011)’ by Hannah Piper that includes the dangerous combination of the two F’s – February and fluorescent (tube lighting) -alongside helium balloons. The Brisbane heat was not kind to the balloons and they’d perished by the time I arrived, but I gather the piece made an interesting ‘entry’ to the remainder of the works in the Gallery’s main room which, despite having four artists exhibiting everything from video, sculpture and photography, seem to fit together nicely in the space. The advantage of having such a small space means that you know every inch of it when the time comes to curate a show. Caitlin Franzmann’s plywood sculpture & video installation ‘P.O.V. 2011’ is perfectly positioned for this effect as it explores human interaction and individual experience in space. Part of the video installation includes the crowd’s reaction to the piece on the opening night. With a Degree in urban planning in addition to her visual arts qualifications, Franzmann is well versed to explore these notions.

Jared Worthington has a number of works in this show. Several ‘sculpture & object’ works are from his series ‘The Waverley Collection’ where he dips into nostalgia using various objects as prompts. His six archival prints (digital drawings) are illustrations where the artist plays with modern computer technology to imitate the hand made.

Yavuz Erkan (originally from Turkey) has a Bachelor of Photography. He’s been seen in a few shows outside Australia as well as one at the Perth Centre for Photography. Interestingly for photographs these illustrate a very tactile approach. They mostly use the artist as a model photographing himself in unconventional scenes. A hand in milk, (Milk 2011) a man cradles red jelly (Jelly 2011), a hand reaching to touch another in a rubber glove (Gloves 2011) and a man hiding behind a huge pink bubblegum bubble (Bubble Gum 2011). All of these works evoke a strong sense of feeling. The photographs are framed well in square white frames and hung in salon style.

I first saw Dord Burrough’s work last year in the drawing show ‘Three Winter Coats and a Dirty Knife’ at Brisbane’s Nine Lives Gallery ARI (which is sadly no longer in existence). This time Burrough, whose home moves between Berlin and Brisbane, has exhibited small oils on canvas. One in particular takes my eye on the wall as it had on the internet – it’s entitled ‘Baby Pink 2012’ and at only a little more that 20cm in either direction it doesn’t really deserve to make a big impact. The baby has Burrough’s telltale oversized swathe of a mouth & droopy eyes and layers of ice creamy pastel paint but this little portrait seems to question what we’re really looking at. ‘Not an Easy Place 2012’ perhaps gives away a little more.

Commissioned especially for this show and based on a work done for the Graduate Art Show at QCA is Dana Lawrie’s ‘Bare Down 2012’. A large oil on board in four panels, this piece is a double self-portrait of the artist, who has an interest in how ‘the act of painting can be understood as a psychological tool to destabilise identity and reconstruct ideas of self’. Lawrie has used pastel colours and lots of negative space to create a work that floats in the room defying the weight of the support on which it’s been painted. On the day I visit the Gallery the artist is there working as the gallery assistant and looking rather anxious (just like her portrait) when I discover her true identity. ‘No need to worry’, I say. I think she’s got a bright future.

‘Test Pattern’
Jared Worthington, Hannah Piper, Caitlin Franzmann, Yavuz Erkan, Dord Burrough and Dana Lawrie
Until 4 March 2012.
Ryan Renshaw Gallery, Brisbane

Sharne Wolff

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