Art Exhibitions Galleries in Melbourne Modern Art Painting Printmaking


T J Bateson – Iteration Part II.V
Tacit Contemporary Art
312 Johnston Street Abbotsford VIC 3067
Closed October 16

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T J Bateson: Drill Wire Polyhedron I (2016). Synthetic polymer on canvas. 190 x 160cm (approx). © T J Bateson and Tacit Contemporary Art, all rights reserved.

A CURSORY glance at current, contemporary gallery exhibitions (and the comments of curators and critics who should know better) might lead one to believe that painting is on life-support, out of fashion, is mute with nothing left to say. It seems in today’s art world, if you want to succeed, you need to construct art from found and ready-made objects that can be manipulated, styled, reproduced and displayed with as much techno-trickery as you can find  (note: no creation here, just finding and endlessly reinterpreting – a recipe for self-consumption to the point of non-existence if ever there was one). But I digress; my point is that Bateson’s work, happily, disproves that idea.

Sometimes the best thing about art is the initial response you have to seeing it. Iteration Part II.V, by T J Bateson at Tacit Gallery is something to behold. My response is calm. Endless visage. Panorama. An unshaking belief that it’ll all be alright in the end. Bateson’s works – both paintings and prints, are entities of themselves. They ask for nothing – not approval, recognition, permission or acceptance. They just, like those famous monoliths on Easter Island, are. These works are meditative and reflective spaces, they encourage introspection, considered thought, calm and peace. They are salves, gentle oil for the soul. There is no answer here, other than the one you bring yourself. There is no salvation here, other than the one you find for yourself. This makes for a contemplative and near-out-of-world experience.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, these are the latest in a line of works that Bateson has crafted – and will continue to craft into the future. Previous iterations include works that evoke the style of the American abstractionist Gene Davis, other iterations include memories of Rothko, in this spectator. But it doesn’t do to get hung up on comparisons; I only mention these because they provide a convenient way for me to start a dialog with Bateson’s works; my previous reactions to these other works guides me, and perhaps helps me from becoming lost in the language, of mistaking the translation, of misreading the music. There’s majesty and honour in iterating – a continued tradition that recognises the worth of the work, the spark of the idea, the honesty of the concept. Colour in this suite of works isn’t important – line though is, as is a continued rhythm and syncopation that is set up by the flat picture plane, and perspective-less image. This of course, leads the eye and mind to try to create an image from a non-image, and equally predictably, fails to achieve this end. As with all abstract art, Bateson’s works exist as themselves as a record of non-visual response to something, rather than as an image, reproduction or facsimile of something or someone who one has seen. These then, are responses to existence and are the reflection of sentience, knowledge, understanding and sensitivity. They, in many ways, have more in common with musical composition that they do with figurative art it this sense. So, just as a composer plays with our ability to hear, Bateson plays with the our ability to see. He creates visual hooks, rhythms and passages, just as a composer does with notes, chords and melody, that draws us to look, to survey, investigate and through these acts become enmeshed in a dialogue with the image. Once engaged, we are no longer the passive observer for we are provoked into a response, a sophisticated, ethereal response to fundamental material processes.

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T J Bateson: Iteration Noritake Wire Polyhedron III, (2016). Synthetic polymer, dry point and wood block on paper (unique state print). 57 X 76 cm (approx).© T J Bateson and Tacit Contemporary Art, all rights reserved.

These works are embedded in the history of western art – they are direct descendants of the likes of Rothko and others, mentioned earlier. In Australia, they evoke in me the late ‘seventies works of Paul Partos and the surface rhythms of Robert Jacks and Lesley Dumbrell. Unlike these last two, Bateson’s works possess a substance that seemed lacking in Dumbrell’s works from the early ‘eighties – you might accuse her of all surface and design without substance –  with some justification. Bateson’s works will bear no such label.

The Swiss painter and art teacher Johannes Itten was one of the first masters to be appointed by Walter Gropius at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar. From 1919 to 1923, with the preliminary course which he had developed, Itten influenced the principles of education in design at the Bauhaus. There, he devised a contemporary method of teaching based on insights gained from the progressive educational movement and the artistic avant-garde. Instead of urging his students to start by copying other artworks as was customary at the traditional art academies, Itten encouraged his students to explore their own subjective feelings and to bring creativity to design. He wrote, in Design and Form, his treatise on artistic design, that the basis of composition was really the establishment of contrast and the resulting tensions, balance, and dialogs that contrast creates. In his words, ‘As life and beauty unfold in the regions between the North and South Poles of our planet, so life and beauty are to be found in the graduations between the poles of contrast. In light – dark contrast, the artistic possibility of application lies in the many hues and tone values between black and white. Black and white are points of reversal, not end points of a continuum.’ These works are powerful demonstrations of that concept.

Bateson’s practice and experience  provides him with an extraordinary repertoire of techniques and processes that he manipulates to create the subtle, beautifully inflected and resonant surfaces of his works. His art is one that invites contemplation and the sensual enjoyment of the concrete materiality of the work itself. Each, be they works on paper or canvas, structured from ink or paint, in all their inventiveness and rich variety, demand close scrutiny and always repay the viewer with visual pleasure and new insights into the act of looking. Power is this, self-knowledge and peace; an opportunity to recharge, rethink, reassess. I can’t wait for the next iteration.

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T J Bateson: Iteration Noritake Wire Polyhedron II (2016). Dry point and wood block on paper (unique state print). 75 x 90 cm (approx). © T J Bateson and Tacit Contemporary Art, all rights reserved.
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Art Tackles Sport

Basil Sellers Art Prize 5
The Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne
Swanston Street (Between Faraday & Elgin Streets)
Closed November 6, 2016.

Grant Hobson: Konibba Roosters 1906 to 2016, (2016). 29 panels; 95 X 80cm and 75 X 57cm (approx.), Inkjet digital print on aluminium composite, steel nails and laserjet prints on paper © Grant Hobson, all rights reserved.

‘ART is not sport’ – said Degas, disdainfully, to the son of one of his best friends who insisted on tramping around the countryside, easel and paintbox at the ready, intent on capturing and subjugating the landscape, like a hunter, in colour and form on canvas. Degas was of the view that creating images was mental exercise, not physical; an activity more about taking time to craft and refine an initial idea, rather than respond to a ball or target dangling in front of one’s eyes. Art, above all was definitely not a race for Degas. If such was the case, he’d finish stone motherless last in any speed painting competition; Monet would murder him every time.

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GOING to London? Great. Art is a must-see for the traveler to the heart of the new capitol of nearly-but-not-quite Europe. So much to see though and probably so little time. The biggies include the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery just around the corner in St Martin’s Place, Tate Britain at Millbank and the Tate Modern on Southwark, the Courtauld Gallery off the Strand, the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington and the summer show at the Royal Academy (RA) in Piccadilly (opposite Fortnum and Mason)

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c3 Contemporary Art Space – current exhibitions
Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St Abbotsford
Open 10.00AM-5.00PM Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).
Closed June 12.

c3 Contemporary Art Space, Abbotsford

NESTLED in the under-story of the old convent in Abbotsford’s art precinct on the Yarra, c3 Contemporary Art Space has been a showcase for emerging artists for more than eight years. Currently, six artists are on show, presenting a veritable cornucopia of  different ideas, views, thoughts, objectives and interests. Culture, place, history and experience all provide a wealth of opportunity for artistic expression.

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Edgar Degas: <i>Frieze of Dancers</i>, oil on canvas, circa 1895
Edgar Degas: Frieze of Dancers, 1895. Oil on canvas. Cleveland Museum of Art.

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If People Powered Radio

40 years of broadcasting – Radio 3CR
Gertrude Contemporary, 200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.
Closed April 23.


COMMUNITY voice, community action. For forty years, radio 3CR has provided a voice for ordinary people with something extraordinary to say. Back, as they say, in the day, 3CR on Saturday afternoons was always worth listening to for Fitzroy’s arts community – No Limits, an arts magazine broadcast from 1:00PM featured reviews of the latest exhibitions, films, books, festivals and theatre – an essential guide for those in the know.

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Recent works by Andrea Sinclair
Tacit Contemporary Art,  312 Johnston Street Abbotsford.
Closed April 3.

Andrea Sinclair Kick
Andrea Sinclair: Kick 2016. Gouache and synthetic polymer on paper 600mm X 450mm (approx.). ©Andrea Sinclair and Tacit Contemporary Art. All rights reserved.

THE POOL. Summer. When I was nine, Richard Hall was the luckiest kid around, because he lived only two streets away from the newest, most spectacular public pool in the district.

Art Exhibitions Galleries in Melbourne Printmaking

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APW FitzroyCarolyn Hawkins, Sophie Westerman and Kasia Fabijańska
Australian Print Workshop, 210 Gertrude Street Fitzroy.
Closed March 24.

A STORY of threes weaves through this exhibition of 35 works by three talented and capable artists working their chosen mediums. All were scholarship recipients in 2015 – this is the fruit of their work while engaged in those scholarships, awarded through the Australian Print Workshop’s program of support for emerging artists.