WEST AUSTRALIAN WEEKEND EXTRA.
SATURDAY APRIL 21 2007 page 13
History and the age of anxiety
Terrorism and the environment are on display
in two of Perth's latest exhibitions
Climate change, oil prices, terrorism, etc, etc, etc. sometimes
it can seem too much. Currently in Perth are three shows that
us some insight into the overwhelming nature of our times.
At Galerie Dusseldorf John Teschendorff's History ofIdeas IV
immediately reminds us that these times, although predominated
in a peculiarly idiosyncratic way, are nonetheless history repeating
Looking like rustic tablets and superbly referencing texture
and patterned motif, each work seems an appraisal of contemporary
angst while simultaneously goading us to seek history's lessons.
Teschendorff, through a combined use of abstraction and text,
has produced a series of rich and very political works. In an
art climate where many works are whimsical'at best, Teschendorff
has given us a blast of the monumentalinart and judging by this
excellent series, he feels now is not the time to be faint-hearted.
Much of the work gets into the political space of an East/West
dichotomy. Paintings like XXXVII Guantanamo Fence, XXIX Temple
Guantanamo Bay and XXXIV Plague (Traitors Gate) all utilise
a strong sense of iconic abstraction to . make the viewer engage
in a sense of destiny. This is destiny being played out not
only in the world of global politics but in the whole idea of
representation itself We are repeatedly told we are watching
history unfold, seemingly on a day-to-day basis, and much of
Teschendorff's imagery understands the guiding way weare fed
this information from above, distanced and protected.
In a work like Stealth (Silk Road to Freedom) we look down on
a plane dropping bombs. It's a jolt because the abstraction
of the image reminds us we have never been there, above a Stealth
bomber, yet the imagery is so familiar. Familiar too are the
ideologies that govern our planet today. Teschendorff's work
engages them briefly as they continue to go around in history,
battling each other in a never-ending Orwellian dance.
at Galerie Dusseldorf are Valerie Tring's peculiar watercolours
small studies on soft kangaroo skin. The way the watercolour
sits on top of the hide completely grabbed me. It holds but
it feels it could wash off at any moment. Her series based on
cyclone Tracy's destruction of Darwin complements this technique
Again, like Teschendorff's work, many of the images in her Anxiius
Watercolours collection are taken from aerial views. Buildings
are crumbled, ripped apart like so many skeletons by the force
of nature. Tring's use of watercolour is really contemporary
and affects an urgent reading from a usually relaxed medium.
This paradox will bring about a shift in viewer response, creating
an uneasy space that Tring fills with anxiety.
Her other smaller series is a beauty. Anxious Emblems shows
small boys play-fighting with kangaroos well, sometimes with
kangaroos, sometimes with each other. The 12 works in the series
add up to a brilliant little ditty on expectations of violence,
nationalism and masculine behaviour.
John Teschendorff's XXXIII Plague (House of the People).
Valerie Tring XXIV Ruinscape (after a cyclone)History of Ideas
IV and Anxious Watercolours are at Galerie Dusseldorf
Glyde Street. Mosman Park, until April 29.