Russell Goodman

New artists: Melbourne
Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney

Of the work exhibited at this group show in Sydney last year, one's eye was immediately drawn to a kinetic sculpture by Russell Goodman – Daytona Dreamer.

The sculpture centres on the theme of creation and destruction, the life cycle. Russell uses the kinetic medium and contemporary culture contextually. The automobile, a symbol of the aesthetic of the '50s and '60s, is used as a metaphor. The conception, perfection and inevitable destruction of this symbol is conveyed through a combination of mechanical and electronic sequencing. The sequence is cyclic but not fatalistic.

A designer, sculptor, and self-taught engineer, Russell took two years to complete Daytona Dreamer. Constructed from plastic, steel, neon and found objects, the sculpture is executed in meticulous detail. Each component is crafted to stand individually and then integrated to form the composite sculpture. One component, an anthropomorphic automobile, is composed of multi-layered parts which gesticulate like an insect. Another, the spinning creation wheel, is adorned with rotating spires which create the facade of a carnival act about to commence. And it does. The components sequentially illuminate and spasmodically move to a background of pulsating neon and pumping hammers, then fade out to black.

Using layers of coloured perspex, Russell creates a multitude of subtle hues and tones in the red and blue spectra. Blueprints of the components, also exhibited, attest to Russell's obsession with the finely crafted artefact.

In an earlier piece, A Thirsty Child Doesn't Read the Label (sculpture in plastic, neon, light and aluminium), Russell explored the wanton destruction of war. This piece portrays creation/destruction in a bleaker light. Creation is established through a similar sequencing of lights although the climax is final. The sequence is cyclic and fatalistic.

Although influenced by the Bauhaus and the Constructivists' work, Russell's approach is somewhat more of a narrative. While not denying this influence he would suggest that this is merely a starting point. His work does not try to emulate any other artist. Rather, it was the pursuit of an individual medium which transformed him from a twodimensional artist to a sculptor. His dexterity in design and construction and an acute sense of colour combined to create his unique kinetic sculptural style.

Russell 's work reads well in the diverse and varied surroundings of a group show. However, after seeing his work at an earlier show it has become apparent that this work is best viewed in an isolated environment. In the Melbourne show (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - 'Site of Execution', 1988). Daytona Dreamer was exhibited with A Thirsty Child Doesn't Read the Label, blueprints, a slide sequence and a sound-track composed for the artwork. This created a visual and aural bombardment.

Russell filmed the assembling of Daytona Dreamer at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery and edited this with animated slides. The film was screened on Metro T.V. (Sydney) in mid-November, 1988.