Art grounded in the here and now

Lyn DiCiero

VISUAL ARTS

Here&Now15/God is With Us

Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

REVIEW LYN DiCIERO

Once relegated to the minority of artists who dared to try to make a living from it, who could have predicted sculpture would acquire such mammoth popularity today?

Outdoor shows such as Sculpture by the Sea, Castaways Sculpture Awards, Melville Sculpture Walk and Sculpture at Bathers, plus burgeoning public art commissions,'''' have piqued public curiosity and encouraged artists to spread their wings.

Here&Now, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery’s annual survey of WA contemporary art, reflects this expansion with an exhibition bursting with new ideas. Providing a snapshot of cutting-art sculpture, Here&Now, curated by Andrew Purvis, encouraged artists to test the bounds of their medium, and set new creative benchmarks.

The show gives a modern context to the 1978 essay by art theorist Rosalind Krauss, Sculpture in the Expanded Field, commenting on the parameters of sculpture, suggesting it was no longer confined to the plinth.

Nowadays many artists have at hand a bevy of technology, and are more likely to be conceptual in their approach. In this exhibition, artists frequently utilise light and sound, as well as the very manner the human body negotiates the gallery space.

Take, for example, Shannon Lyons’ work, I’m Always Looking Around (You’re Always Looking Away), essentially using light as a medium. Squares of light on the gallery walls correspond in size and shape with actual works in the University of WA collection selected and curated by Lyons.

The lumen intensity varies to reflect whether the corresponding work is on paper or created with hardier materials. Support Acts by Alistair Rowe, also uses light, through squares of glass in tower arrangements which interact with gallery lighting to cast myriad shadows.

Before you enter Here&Now there’s a wow factor. God is With Us, Abdul Abdullah’s Anzac video commission screens 24/7 in the gallery window. The artist mimes the story as his father narrates a poignant family history of the war years.

And Rebecca Baumann applies transparent coloured film to the gallery windows to distort the natural light entering the space.

Inside the gallery, Tanya Lee’s constructions of laminated ply on wheels move about the space or remain static and appear purposeful. Designed to imitate the gallery reception desk, these mini versions replete with volunteer staff, inform and guide visitors to the show, and occasionally venture out of the gallery to provide the same service for sculptures throughout the UWA grounds.

In a darkened gallery, two speakers emit the rhythmic sound of heartbeats. For the nine-week duration of the exhibition, artist Jacobus Capone and his mother are wearing digital stethoscopes, the sound of their heartbeats streaming live to the gallery 24/7, making the two simultaneously present, yet absent in a work titled: I Am My Mother’s Son.

David Brophy’s two-man tent attached to the gallery ceiling metaphorically implies a surfer finding security and stability in an impossible position on a breaking wave.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s full-scale reproduction of a hallway, replete with chandelier, is both intriguing and imposing in the gallery space.

Based on an out-of-body experience in childhood, an indefinable rumbling increases in volume to create a sense of foreboding as visitors move through the hallway towards a darkened space containing an empty chair.

Throughout the exhibition, Loren Kronemyer’s adhesive information panels instruct visitors to perform what they may be doing anyway, drawing attention to the human body as a sculptural proposition in the space.

But does Here&Now fulfil its brief to explore the cutting-edge and stretch boundaries? It does so in spades. You’ll leave this exhibition wondrous of possibilities, with faith in new sculptural directions.

Here&Now and God is With Us is at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery until June 27.