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Make an appointment to see me again, please
In the recent exhibition-installation , titled Make an Appointment to See Me Again, Please, by Mark Dutney, Helene Grove and Marshall May, art and medical practice have again formed an unlikely marriage. This latest collection of works by the three Bunqaberg artists/doctors, is the followup to their exhibition, The Doctor Is In-The Doctor Is Out.
Life experiences, coupled with the daily routines and rigours of medical practice, form the basis from which the images are derived. Ranging from the didactic imagery of Grove's Man series, to Dutney's serendipitous exploration of the commonplace in the form of a stethoscope, to the quiet ceramic sculptural forms of Marshall May, there are diverse elements of gravity, superficiality, irony and humour throughout.
Dominating the show, both in scale and location, Dutney's work continues to explore an ongoing theme-that of the kite. Since his first solo show in 1990, the kite has been a constantly recurring image, but now he takes its shape a step further-beyond the canvas and into the broader gallery space.
Through exploring the possibilities of the stethoscope as stencil, Dutney made the connection between a kite tail in flight and the form of a dangling stethoscope.1 A conceptual link has developed, resulting now in works such as kiteshaped canvasses supported by loosely spiralling tails arranged in a freestanding group. These works hover menacingly in one corner, dancing in the breeze created by a nearby fan, and adding a touch of the surreal. Constantly shifting shadows cast against the surrounding walls echo the sharp angularity of the kites, contrasting with the organic tails to heighten the effect of the almost comical, floating and bobbing forms.
A companion to each of the kites is a five panel painting carefully arranged and creating a subtle spiralling effect. Within the paintings themselves, Dutney explores contrasts, luminous glazes, weathered surfaces and calligraphic marks. He allows the stethoscope to suggest forms from the obviously figurative to patterned abstractions and colourful interplays.
In contrast to Dutney's work, that of Helene Grove has a solemnity of subject matter, perhaps associated with her practice in personal counselling. Pervading the body of work is the Man figure, linking her images and ideas and giving the sense of a sub-conscious exploration, both in a universal and autobiographical context. Personal and social insights are formed through an associative reaction to outwardly esoteric imagery, providing viewers with many points of reference that might relate to their own experiences and emotions.
The paintings are metaphors, imaginative and ambiguous, not offering explanation. Confronted by iconic images of a gun, a cage, a floating red-phallused baby and a penistipped crucifix, the viewer is offered a short yet often disturbing journey " ... through forests of symbols/which watch with familiar glances".2
In the past Grove's work has been typified by a somber palette of earthy monochromes. An emergence of intensely bright colour has made the recent work an unexpected plunge into seemingly unsafe waters. At first glance the turquoises, pinks, oranges and purples appear as vibrant, flat backgrounds, however, closer study reveals that the works are brought to life by the introduction of small areas of fluorescents or complementaries, intensifying the surrounding colours and generating a pureness of hue that belies the actual. Remove the single vehement patch and the works cease to exude the energy currently evident.
Marshal! May's ceramic forms are a collection of body parts given a new status as art object. Technically diverse, the work ranges from traditional sculptural form to the wheelthrown, from high-fire to raku.3 They are robust and solid, with spinal cords sectioned and severed, a solid foot sliced and placed on a plinth, spare parts scattered. May's humour is subtle and ironic and challenges the viewer to deliberate over the concepts emanating from these dismembered ceramic icons.
1. Exhibition catalogue.
2. From Baudelaire. "Correspondences", Rookmaker, "Sythesist Art Theones", Herschel B. Chipp, Theones of Modern Art, University of California Press, 1968, p.91
3. Exhibition catalogue.