Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Language, Art and the Golden Mean

Since most of my life revolves around writing, I am constantly thinking about how language communicates and/produces meaning...the paradoxical nature of language, with both its limitations and infinity...how to articulate ideas in the best possible way for different audiences and impact... This focus on words has always meant that as soon as I arrive at an art exhibition, my immediate desire is to read the catalogue essay before I even view the work so I can articulate in words what the visual works may be trying to evoke. My struggle has always been to view an art work and let it "speak" in a non-linguistic way; to derive some sort of meaning purely from the visual, without relying on a written context for understanding, and without feeling desperate to write about the work, so that I might make sense of it through theorising it.

Last Friday night, my friend Flyck and I went to the Kaleidoscope gallery in Geelong to attend Laura Alice's debut exhibition opening, "The Golden Mean." I've written about Laura's street art before at Killings, so it was great to see some of her work in a different context: her pieces consisted of large-ish ink and watercolour paintings, some smaller illustrations, paste-ups, sharpie drawings on old wood and an animation sequence projected onto the gallery wall- lot of animals and trees.

As Flyck and I walked around the space, munching on the delicious home-made bread, chutney, dukkah, cheese and salts that Laura and her sister had made that afternoon (and drinking the chai tea made by Laura's husband Jono) I felt that for the first time, I was able to enjoy artwork without itching for an essay or a blurb to provide me an interpretation. 

Here's what I loved about Laura's work: her colour palette kind of reminded me of a soft sunset - teals, greyish greens, pale pinks and oranges, greys and yellows...her use of sharpie ink on old wood was so earthy, and her pictures quite child-like - not in the sense they weren't technically incredible (they were) but in the way she gave faces to the objects... There were sleeping moons and mountains...a tree snuggling down comfortably, wrapped in its own roots like a blanket...bears and rabbits with the universe behind them...the pictures were at once full of joy, but also something else - definitely not sadness or darkness - but almost otherworldly, presenting an understanding of the profundity of the world, the enormity of the universe...I don't want to write too much because I'm practising just being affected by the images, but those were my lasting impressions.

It was Flyck, though, who got me to this place (she has an amazing mind, and this crazy ability to think through complex things really deeply and articulate her whole thought process in really profound and relatable ways). For example: Flyck noticed that almost all the pieces contain "roundness" in some way - whether it was the roundness of child's face, or the roundness of the moon, both of which featured prominently - and began to describe earnestly how this portrayed a sense of innocence, or fullness, simply through the suggestion of roundness...Flyck explained how she wasn't really an "angular" person and so was particularly attracted to Laura's work.

Flyck's observation was simple, but it really blew me away - I was so excited about art impacting my friend without a written context that it helped me appreciate Laura's work even more that I already do, and made me excited about the fact that I could become better at absorbing this impact myself.

Once I can afford some of Laura's work, I definitely plan on buying at least one (if not many)!

The exhibition is open till 20th July, at Kaleidoscope Gallery (Courthouse), Cnr Gheringhap and Little Malop Streets, Geelong so if you get a chance you should definitely drop by.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, darling Julia, for honouring me with your words and for being open to being affected by me. What an encouragement! and what a pleasure it was to spend a weekend with you.