Jessie Cacchillo wrote to us an invited us to the opening of her show Quiet They Might See You at Mori Gallery. “I know the gallery is a pain in the ass to get to, but there will be a drink waiting!” she said and we thought we’d probably like a drink, so we went. It’s been ages since we went to an actual opening and we were so glad we did. If we were Jessie Cacchillo, we’d be very happy with our opening – it was everything you’d want it to be – there were loads of people there – good looking people – it wasn’t too hot or too cold or too crowded and the booze was good. A nice looking fellow came up to us and flattered us by asking if we were painters or sculptors. But no, we were just there to see the art.
Cacchillo had two sets of works. On one wall are a series of mixed media works on paper and on the facing wall another series of small acrylic (13x18cm) on canvas paintings.
It was this second series that had all the trills. Using images (we’re guessing) from personal family photographs and other sources, Cacchillo has a pretty good eye for the macabre. Aunty Fran is a lady in a party frock, her head cropped at the top and her shoes just getting into the picture, Betty and Cat is a little girl with a pet and demonic look on her face while Hot Dog Man is a surprised looking fellow putting a red sausage in his gob.
The problem with painting from photographs is that the images always have a slightly squashed feel as depth becomes flattened in the process of painting. Like her stable mate Michael Zavros, the real art is in the choice of images and Cacchillo has a pretty steady sense of what will make a good picture. It would be nice to see the works on a larger scale, but then again the intimacy of the works really adds to their allure. Unfortunately, the Mori web site doesn’t have images from this new show yet but the image archive has some similar works.
Cacchillo’s second set of works on the opposite wall are a bit of a let down – the mixed media pieces have a definite joi d’vivre, but they are much lesser works than her paintings. We couldn’t help but feel that the artist should have taken a real leap of faith and just shown the paintings alone in a gallery with a single wall of small paintings. It would have certainly given us somewhere to slump with a studied air of insouciance.
In the smaller gallery, Sarah Parker was having her first show in Sydney in four years. Having escaped the horrors of Marlene Antico, she now finds herself in a proper gallery with a proper opening and an exhibitions space you can actually move around in.
We discovered that Parker is having a “let’s see how it goes” exhibition with Mori before they officially tie the knot. Having seen the show we have to ask – how much better does an artist have to be to get a permanent gig? This is without a doubt one of the finest and strongest shows by any artist we have seen all year.
Parker is an artist with years of experience painting and it shows in her beautifully understated works. Her images might not be to everyone’s taste and we have to admit that we have acquired a taste for them over the years – we usually prefer space ships and robots and monsters and that kind of stuff – but we are now totally seduced by her pictures. Some might call her work ‘soft’ or ‘girly’, but there is an incredible authority in the way Parker paints with minimal and graceful lines, using exquisite colours and an application of paint that makes you incredulous that she is using acrylic on canvas.
We especially like the way Parker has achieved a style that’s a combination of narrative symbolism and faux-naïve image making. Seeing the works in isolation is a lovely experience, but seeing them together in an exhibition suggests some sort of alternative New Testament Bible story where no one has to get killed, goodness is rewarded and people live happily ever after with birds. It’s an eccentric, original and beautiful show.