The Kudos Gallery is the College of Fine Arts student gallery and features a lot of group shows and exhibitions that students put on as part of their degrees. We stumbled into Ben Ponté’s show Coastlines and Landscapes: And the whole between and thought we were in a group show. Ponté has a unifying aesthetic which may be seen by some as making a big mess, but it is remarkable how consistent that mess is.
Living in Maroubra, Ponté created a series of rude collages, rough paintings and found objects all overlaid with smears of paint that were either inspired by Frank Auerbachor Mr. Whippy, and responded to the whole overexposed life of the beach side brilliantly.
Using crappy 1-hour photo lab developed snaps of the artist in the water, by the water, or playing with water, the whole show came across as a kind of degraded time lapse of the Australian seaside, that narcotic state of forgetfulness that descends in late November and then doesn’t lift until May. Living in Sydney’s eastern suburbs with its big skies, concrete roads and endless roofs, the effect is intensified to the point of madness. In the erratic nature of the show and the subject of the pictures, Ponté got the whole effect down in mixed meida. We particularly liked an installation of a couple of dozen found pictures of Maroubra mayors from over the decades, each brusquely overlaid with pencil scrapings, paint and assorted crap.
Not a unqualified great show by any stretch of the imagination, but we liked Ponté’s chutzpah – the titles Photocopy Guru, Crankin Bombora and Dead Bird for Soutine were great – and his determination to make something idiosyncratically his own out of the detritus of the Maroubra storm water channels was persuasive. A glorious mess.