daniel templeman: confit

Institute of Modem Art, Brisbane
2 May - 8 June 2002

'Confit', although appearing frequently on menus, is not to be found in The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary. lt is derived from confiture, used to describe a preparation of preserved fruit, a confection or a preparation of drugs. The form of the sculpture Confit is similar to a confection-the type of imagery shown in advertisements for chocolate bars or ice creams. lt is a fluid sequence, resembling drips falling from a paint brush. For artist Daniel Templeman , the word possesses a singular meaning: it is a (con)vergence of words like configure, confine and conflow with the word 'fit'. This idea of fitting together improbable objects is something that has occupied Templeman extensively. lt is an appropriate title, sounding like comfort yet bespeaking the sly secret of many an artist-the con.

If the work were painted black, we might be reminded of the imposing 1970s steel sculptures by artists like Clement Meadmore, which now snake around public parks. But it is painted white, which endows the chalky medium of MDF with a lightness of touch. The shape is a frill-most probably located in the fiexibility of paper, something we might discover while making decorations. To make a paper maquette takes two minutes. To complete the sculpture was another story, a mammoth task, which involved a reconfiguring of laser-cut wood that demanded mathematical and sculptural skill. In this sense the work is a portrait of time; a magnification of the minutes spent making a paper decoration.

The sculpture is painted in the same colour used for the gallery walls, which serves to reflect much of the light around the room. The play of light is such that the viewer is absorbed by that which surrounds the work. Shadows and reflections bounce back and forth according to the time of day. The grey shadows which at times cast themselves around the work bring to mind the subtle variations in the palette of Robert Hunter's paintings. At other times, the work is doubled in the adjoining glass reflection so as to expand the aesthetic experience beyond the gallery. Our focus settles in empty space, making the piece a celebration of illusion.

There is an unnatural divergence here between the logistics of execution and the ribbons of light which unfold before the viewer. Fabricated in the confines of a single-car garage, the image of making this work strikes one as being trying and cumbersome. But it is not our privilege to witness this process. The join lines in the wood are perhaps the only small clues to the efforts made in the creation of this illusion.