New artists for Queensland

March 1 -12, 1987

At the onset of this critique I would like to apologise for what I have left out. I feel there are many aspects of the fine arts graduates' exhibition which are worthy of discussion on different levels to the ones I shall pursue here. But I have made my choices in accordance with what I feel are the stronger works in terms of communication through a structured text, especially in terms of the textual interplay of feminine and phallocentric discourses, or nature set against culture.

To begin with the work of Andrea Glasson, her assemblages seem to have attained a delicate balance between textural surface and organised structure: between areas of texture such as weathered, varnished, and painted pieces of various media; and the confinement of these areas within framing systems. The discourse created in these works speaks of nature set within culture, of the organic bounded, or framed, by regulated ways of seeing.

To communicate the framing of perception Andrea has used unusual framing structures, door parts, glass sheets, and old picture frames-to frame objects not usually framed thus making the viewer aware of the framing systems in operation in everyday perception. Declan Harper works with similar concepts of perceptual restructuring, although in a different fashion. His point of departure is a found object which he changes by manipulating its inherent material qualities. In his bronze anvil, Declan changes the conventional material of the anvil in order to communicate a feminine discourse which is at odds with traditional notions of “anvilness".

The anvil still retains the structure of a conventional anvil, its hard-edged, massive, bulky quality, but the surfaces of the piece portray a certain "femininity". The hardness and coldness of iron is replaced by a warm yellow bronze, and the intricate and jewel-like texture of the fuse-welded surfaces.

The interplay of masculine and feminine discourses succeeds in allowing a lessening of definition within the work. The anvil is taken out of its original context as a strictly utilitarian object and is offered to the viewer as an object to be viewed in terms of its own reality.

The Kiss, a painting by Martyn Sommer, is perhaps the most definite example of structured discourse within a visual text. Elements within the work are controlled to the extent of bringing about quite a clear direction of communication through a well balanced interplay of phallocentric and feminine discourse.

The statue is treated as a cold, hard, relatively smooth object, while the human figure is warm and soft. These contradictory signs direct attention to the focal point of image: the kiss - the meeting of two, contradictory, discourses.

This meeting is reinforced by the statue's allusion to classical thought, which communicates the notion of a marriage of reason and emotion, the creation of a balance between opposite poles.

Martin Sommer The Kiss