MONUMENT: featuring Anthony Goicolea
Gow Langsford Gallery Lorne St
15 May – 8 June 2013
Preview: 14 May
Huang Yan (b. 1966, China)
Self Portrait, Edition 66/200, 2004
Mixed media print
991 x 782mm
Huang Yan’s work is a complex fusion of traditional Chinese culture and the contemporary world. Since the time of the Han dynasty, landscape paintings have become the quintessence of Chinese art, and while Yan emulates this in his work through his leafy and floral motifs, he simultaneously breaks this convention by transposing the images onto the human body. Our skin inevitably becomes the artist’s canvas.
In works such as Self Portrait (2008), Yan makes us question whether or not it is the body that is the art, or the paintings on the body. This results in Yan’s innovative way of using traditional Chinese art and of representing the relationship between man and nature – a very Taoist concept. The use of the artist’s body in this work inevitably brings an avant-garde sense of performance to the piece – in China for cultural and political reasons, the use of the body as an art medium remains taboo.
As well as challenging the limits of Chinese traditional landscape paintings, his culture, this portrait on a broader scale reminds us to never our forget our heritage and the roots from which we have grown.
Marco Breuer (b. 1966, Germany)
Untitled (C-461), 2004
Chromogenic paper scratched
602 x 498 mm
The camera has changed the world we live in, enabling us to document our lives and history, as well as create images of beautiful, thought-provoking and challenging natures. Photography captures the often fleeting moments of our lives and the world around us at any one point in time. These images often provoke emotions of elation or sadness and give cause for reflection. However, Marco Breuer’s work is void of this sense of nostalgia and instead investigates the conceptual medium of photography, how it works and what it means.
Breuer is best known for his radical approach to the medium. Believing that photography does not need to be ruled by the camera, he advocates for a physical involvement with the image. This philosophy translates into works such as Untitled (C-461), (2004). Here the image’s surface is highly manipulated, encompassing an intriguing sense of chance and experimentation. This work consists of scratched chromogenic paper whose surface emulsions react uniquely and independently as if startled by Breuer’s innovative exploration into the material essence of photography.
Isaac Layman (b. 1977, USA)
Archival inkjet print
64 x 56 inches
Archival inkjet print
59 x 75 inches
Isaac Layman, a Seattle-based photographer, takes his inspiration from the everyday objects found in his home rather than from external influences. His skill lies in elevating otherwise mundane and ordinary objects into something ambiguous and mysteriously beautiful. His unique approach is refreshing and in contrast to his contemporaries who strive to capture and present the life within their subjects. Using a high-resolution digital 4 x 5 inch camera, Layman shoots from a simplistic viewpoint that, as seen here in Blackout (2010) and Dryer (2010), results in what appears to be a strikingly minimal image – a graphic representation of his life.
At a glance, both Blackout and Dryer seem fairly objective, almost documentary in style. The dryer door remains central to its frame, as does the curtain to its encasing window ‘frame’. However, the creases in the curtain, and the dryer door handle on the left, suggest that perhaps there lies something more than meets the eye.
Caught within the colourful and heavy image-driven world of the 21st century, Blackout and Dryer are comparatively light and serene images. They offer an alternative and innovative insight into the personal life of Isaac Layman that is as simplistic as it is complex. These two works come together and form an honest appreciation for the little things in life that one may take for granted, and are, until captured and realised on film, often overlooked.