Ric Spencer reviewed my latest exhibition, New Perth, in the October 8 edition of the West Australian paper. However, the paper was a limited edition run and was only available for sale on one day, so now you’ve all missed out on buying it, and reading it.
Fear not however! I have scanned the article and even typed it out for your reading pleasure.
“Since impressionism’s intoxication with Japanese prints and Gaugauin’s heading off to Polynesia, the pure of the exotic “other” has never really left art. Of course, it’s never really left our subconscious (or travel brochures) since the Europeans set sail for new worlds but today with global imagery a mouse click away, surely desktop travelling is de rigueur and our desires to elope to fables lands have dwindled.
Not so, according to three shows in town now.
What is interesting about Campbell Whyte’s New Perth, Stephen Eastaugh’s A good Day Tonight and Julie Podstolski’s Geisha is that exotic doesn’t necessarily mean pleasant and nor does it mean utopia. Rather is seems that the contemporary exotic is a nostalgia for anything uncorrupted as a counterpoint to apathy and acceptance.
So, in this sense, where does the contemporary exotic exist? Whyte’s great little show at Free Range is a good place to start looking.
After spending some time in San Fracisco and Oaxaca, Mexico, on artist residencies, Whyte has returned to Perth to produce an art of terrific violence, heavily influenced by the political art of South America.
The style and mannerisms in the paintings blend mural and death art, new age and cult symbolism and the stark, pared down vitriol of someone like Leon Golub.
The new mantra in Whyte’s work is a wake-up call for Perth audiences. Like the work of Patrick Doherty, Whyte examines the possibilities of moral meltdown and examines a Perth engaged with fighting for ideals, involved in protest and civil unrest.
Heady stuff but also refreshing in its approach and the technique it’s delivered in.
The six-panelled work at the centre of the back wall dominates the show and indeed is strong enough to be shown on its own, subjugating the wall painting and other installation work.
This multi-panelled piece utilises broken narrative to deliver six separate works, with titles like Feast of the Unicorns, My Eyes Eat Honey and It Keeps You Running as an ode to the exotic other lying in found aweareness and a cause worth fighting for. In Whyte’s work the breaking down of social structure might lead to chaos but also a sense of rebirth.
This is strong figurative work in search of raw emotion.”