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Les Dorahy's latest exhibition at Milburn + Arte displays a development in style, with an emphasis on free-standing works rather than his previous 2-D wall-bound ones. So too has he deviated from the basic materials of wood and paint, expanding to incorporate bronze and earth in the forms of ground terracotta, granite dust and sand. There is an ambience of quiet "being" as the objects exude an enigmatic life of their own.
The Tower, a lone remnant from Dorahy's previous painted wood works, erupts into a 3-D vertical plane, rising to a monumental height of approximately 81/2 feet. But the delicate, complex shapes and cut-out spaces make its size less dominating and more hospitable than those earlier works. L1ke a hollow, filigree totem, its presence is enhanced by its multifaceted nature where viewing from various angles delights and excites the eye with its complexity, so that peering into the enclosed space is like gazing into a lace-fringed sanctuary.
A series of bronze pieces immediately attracts attention with similar intricate and delicate motifs reminiscent of those of Leonard French or John Coburn. Occupying a vertical 3-D space, they stand as islands or entities each containing a story, a mystery at which the observer can only guess. Space-shaping forms commune with each other from four sides and unite across the hollow centre to create multiple dimensions. The structure provides a playground for shapes. One of these, The Mariner's Dream, is crowned by a Viking-type ship stranded on cool, bronze ice-peaks while underneath dream motifs play out their private experience. It calls to mind Scandinavian sagas in which sailors search for Valhalla.
Coated in grey granite metal dust, Arch both daunts and invites. Suggesting a fireplace or a doorway - objects with pagan religious connotations – it accommodates a collection of free-stand1ng forms lined up at foot-level. Like supernatural mythological beings they ironically intimate the mundane, with a touch of frivolity that forestalls any attempts at intellectual compartmentalization.
In Tableau these objects reappear atop a terracotta encrusted table, themselves encrusted. As moveable forms at once ethereal and pragmatic they stand about awaiting their moves in a game of surrealistic chess in an isolated, supernatural environment like the red centre of Australia or Mars.
Difficult to define but enchanting to view, Dorahy's latest works allow a freedom of individual (albeit capricious) interpretation while preserving their own secret identity. A separate reality is evoked and it is easy to dwell in its phantasmagoric atmosphere.
The artist has articulated space with eloquent motifs, unifying them successfully in the concept of the "object" that generates an overriding ambiance of presence. Standing in the gallery you never feel alone.