From Andrew Frost…
It’s tempting to reach into the big bag of synonyms for words like whimsical, absurdist and playful to describe the work of Noel McKenna. If it weren’t for the fact that McKenna’s work has indeed that very aspect to it, and those words and others like them have become so overused, his latest duo of shows at Darren Knight Gallery would once again be attracting the honey drips of attention from time-pressed arts writers.
The two shows offer an insight in McKenna’s work. Fourteen Days in New York is a visual travel diary of the artist’s trip to New York in December 2012. Lined up, boxed off and drawn in multiple bright colours, the diary records scenes, impressions and fragments of thoughts and ideas, movies seen and galleries visited. Polluting The Acid meanwhile is a selection of etchings and lithographs from 1997 to 2013 and has many of those McKenna trademarks – forlorn dogs, suburban scenes, and cartoon-like sequences. What is remarkable in McKenna’s work isn’t so much the beguiling humour, although that too is pleasurable, but rather the realisation that his work is one of the greatest sustained acts of observation of every day life ever put on paper by an Australian artist. Along with his paintings and works on paper, McKenna’s oeuvre is a record of the place seen through the eyes of someone who is right there, right in the middle of it.
Until July 13
Darren Knight Gallery, Waterloo
Pic: Noel McKenna, Centennial Park 4, 1984. Etching (3rd state), Ed.10, 25.4 x 32.5 cm. Courtesy Darren Knight Gallery and the artist.