Sullivan + Strumpf

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MAR/APR 2021

Tony Albert

Glenn Barkley

Sanné Mestrom

Jeremy Sharma

María Fernanda Cardoso

Yang Yongliang


Editorial Directors

Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf

Managing Editor

Harriet Reid

Senior Designer &

Studio Manager

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FRONT COVER: Tony Albert, Conversations with

Preston: Christmas Bells (detail), 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on canvas

300 x 400 cm

Sullivan+Strumpf acknowledge the Gadigal people of the

Eora nation, the traditional custodians of whose lands the

Gallery stands. We pay respect to Elders, past, present

and emerging and recognise their continued connection

to Culture and Country.


CURATED BY NINA MIALL

27 MARCH –

11 JULY 2021

twma.com.au

Grant Stevens, Below the mountains and beyond the desert, a river runs through a valley of forests and grasslands,

towards an ocean 2020 (digital render detail). Courtesy of the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney

MAJOR

SPONSORS

MAJOR

PARTNERS

EXHIBITION

SUPPORTERS


Sanné Mestrom, works in progress.


5


Glenn Barkley

nearwildheaven, 2021

earthenware

23 cm diameter

MAR/APR 2021


Level Up

Ursula Sullivan+Joanna Strumpf

One of the greatest rewards as a gallerist/art dealer/

human is watching artists take their practice to the

next level, become representatives of their generation

and use that miraculous, silent, visual voice to start

discussions about our world that need to be had.

The four feature artists in this issue are all doing this –

Tony Albert, Sanné Mestrom, Glenn Barkley and María

Fernanda Cardoso – all in their own way, definitely

leveling up, and definitely taking on the issues of

our time.

Angela Goddard, Director, Griffith University Art

Museum and Chair of University Art Museums Australia,

has known Tony Albert since he was 20 years old working

as a junior trainee at the Queensland Art Gallery. She has

seen him mature and develop from a young artist, into

the (now 40) contemporary hero he is today. Her text

for his exhibition Conversations with Margaret Preston

mirrors the sensitivity in the work – Tony refers to it as: a

bit like a velvet boxing glove – approaching this tricky

but necessary conversation with the care and intelligence

it demands.

Sanné Mestrom is one of the most dynamic and

challenging sculptors working in Australia today.

Imogen Dixon-Smith draws parallels between Sanné and

Dada artist Hannah Höch, and how they both explore

creativity, labour and the female body. She challenges

the giants who have gone before her, defiantly

deconstructing, rearranging and questioning their

legacy, the Modernist patriarchy.

Glenn Barkley is a disruptive force in ceramics today.

His work – some so small they fit in the palm of your

hand – reaches way beyond the traditional language

of ceramics. At once beautiful, weird and hilarious, his

latest work is a melting pot of the deeply personal and

the overtly public social media: American presidents,

Caesar, Mozart, bushfires, gardening, music, COVID,

poetry. He represents life as we know it. So immerse

yourself.

Ahead of her 50th solo exhibition Gumnuts and

Sandstone, we take a closer look at the remarkable

career of María Fernanda Cardoso. Spaning over

30 years and three continents, her career has one

common thread throughout – a fascination with the

intrinsic geometry of the organic. From representing

her homeland of Colombia at the Venice Biennale to

performing her Cardoso Flea Circus literally everywhere

from the Pompidou in Paris to Sydney’s own Opera

House, we learn a little more about Cardoso before her

May exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney.

In this issue we also take a sneak peak into the studios

of Yang Yongliang and Jeremy Sharma, curate a small

but lovely selection of works on the timely theme of

Renewal, and give the Last Word to our great friends

and contemporary art supporters Rob Postema and

Trish Jungfer.

The rewards abound.

Enjoy,

Ursula & Joanna.

7


10

24

32

MAR/APR 2021


Contents

64

10

18

24

32

46

54

60

64

66

Sanné Mestrom: Body as Verb

In the Studio: Jeremy Sharma

Glenn Barkley: The Urn of Bitter Prophecy

Tony Albert: Conversations with Margaret Preston

María Fernanda Cardoso

Yang Yongliang: Allegory of the cave

Last Word: Do you Collect?

Quick Curate: Renewel

Up Next

9


Sanné Mestrom, works in progress.

Sanné Mestrom:

Body as Verb

The distorted echos of Hannah Höch’s photomontages reverberate

through Sanné Mestrom’s stone sculptures. The mashups of

both women transform pre-existing images and forms into entirely

new entities with inescapable references to modern life. Almost a

century later however, Mestrom’s work lets us sit with the lived reality

of Höch’s modernist legacy.

By Imogen Dixon-Smith

Exhibition: April 15 - May 8

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE APRIL 15

11


Sanné Mestrom: Body as Verb

One of the hallmarks of the English language is

the provision of a substantial lexicon where

one can find multiple terms to describe a

single phenomenon, each with specific connotations

that deviate ever so subtly. We can select from a

list of synonyms a word that pinpoints with relative

precision an action we wish to communicate and a

particular feeling we wish to signify. We can hold,

carry, bear or cradle a weight, each term’s accuracy

changing with the context of the situation described.

Sanné Mestrom’s new series Body as Verb formally

and conceptually explores the complex relationship

between support and agency, which is echoed in the

slippage between these four words. Experimenting

with notions of monumentality, permanence and

precision, Mestrom has fashioned abstracted bodily

forms of varying materiality, finish and size. She has

intentionally designed the series, including six robust

legs and a reclining body, to be both aesthetic and

functional – to hold each other (and the viewer) up

visually and physically.

Mestrom’s practice has always worked to complicate

understandings of sculpture, but has recently focused

more intently on exploring the agency of sculpture

and its accountability to public and private space and

the people that inhabit it. For Mestrom, this research

is inseparable from the personal: “like my body,

particularly since giving birth and motherhood…every

bit of me now has to ‘function’. My body has a job

to do, it has a responsibility to the world, and to the

beings in my life. Equally, these objects are not inert,

they also have a responsibility to other objects, and to

the world at large.”

While each individual object is autonomous, the group

can be reconfigured in countless arrangements –

prostrate, outstretched or squatting structures all offer

up sturdy support for smaller components or real bodies

in the space. Scattered across the lush green grass of

her Blue Mountain’s yard, Mestrom moves her models

around countless times allowing these humanesque

contours to climb and cradle one another, a process that

is equal parts chaos and nurture. The physical enactment

of her creative process becomes a rumination on her

own maternal body pulled in all directions as she works

to sustain her loved ones and her career. She laughs as

she describes to me how you would find her moving

through life most days, “I’ve always got my baby in

one arm, grocery bags in the other, I’m kicking the car

door shut with my foot, phone on my shoulder; that’s

kind of the picture of the working mum – everything is

working, every bit of me has a job to do – my brain as an

academic, my body as an artist, my heart as a mum.”

The utilitarian state of the female body could not be

more relevant to the lives we’ve lived over the past 12

months. Termed the ‘she-cession’ by researchers in the

US, women have been disproportionately affected by

the ongoing social impacts of the global pandemic.

The situation is strongly tied to the realities of women’s

labour. Female-dominated industries have been hit

the hardest and the pressure on working mothers to

juggle careers with caring responsibilities has intensified

during periods of school shutdowns. The ambiguity

of Mestrom’s raw, changeable forms enact visual and

experiential cues that reflect the ambivalence linking the

theoretical offerings and practical realities of liberation;

the conundrum of keeping up fulfilling work both within

and beyond the walls of the home.

MAR/APR 2021


Sanné Mestrom in her studio.

13


Sanné Mestrom: Body as Verb

“Like my body, particularly since giving

birth and motherhood...every bit of

me now has to ‘function’. My body has

a job to do, it has a responsibility to

the world, and to the beings in my life.

Equally, these objects are not inert,

they also have a responsibility to other

objects, and to the world at large.”

Mestrom’s now distinctive curvilinear language has been

developed, remoulded and refined in constant dialogue

with male masters of modernism such as Brancusi and

Picasso. Previously referencing particular works or

archetypes of their stylistic legacy, here Mestrom shows

a maturity that exceeds the deconstruction of extant

historic objects and forms, instead manifesting the

visual residue left from a lifetime of canonical exposure

into novel forms that take on a life of their own. The

inheritance of Modernism is still palpable, but here, the

playfulness of her mutable sculptures share a resonance

with a particular female figure of 20th century art.

Pivoting away from her equivocation between reverence

and defiance of male modernists, the parallels that

can be drawn between Body as Verb and the work of

Dada artist Hannah Höch offers a reappraisal of women

exploring notions of creativity, labour and the female

body in new contexts.

The echo of Höch’s cyborg-like ‘New Woman’ mashed

together through the process of photomontage is

palpable in Mestrom’s sculptures. Described by Matthew

Biro as a “heterogenous constellation of fragments”

these images of the archetypal modern ‘liberated’

woman – part machine, part human, part media –

reflected both trauma and regeneration, the dual spirit

of the interwar Weimar period. Like Mestrom, Höch used

photomontage to move beyond plain political critique

and transform pre-existing images and forms into

entirely new entities, yes with inescapable references

to modern life, but with their own agency and energy

to perform. While Höch dealt with an unprecedented

historic moment that saw women enter the political and

professional sphere, almost a century later Mestrom’s

work allows us to sit with the lived reality of the these

modernist legacies. As our weight is lifted from the floor

we can appreciate the value of supportive mechanisms,

be they as conspicuous and tangible as a bench or as

ineffable as maternal nurture.

Imogen Dixon-Smith is a curator and writer currently

based between Gadigal, Ngunnawal and Ngambri

country.

Exhibition: April 15 - May 8

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE APRIL 15

MAR/APR 2021


Sanné Mestrom, work in progress.

15


Sanné Mestrom: Body as Verb

Ursula Sullivan chats to Sanné Mestrom about

Modernism, motherhood and modular art.

URS/ SANNÉ, I LOVE THE NEW WORK AND I’M

INTRIGUED ABOUT THE AESTHETIC PROGRESSION

FROM YOUR LAST EXHIBITION CORRECTIONS. BOTH

BODIES OF WORK ARE BASED IN FIGURATION, BUT

WHAT WAS CLEAN LINED, MODERNIST CURVES, HAS

BECOME CHUNKIER, SOLID, WEIGHTY. CAN YOU TELL

ME ABOUT HOW YOU ARRIVED HERE?

MAR/APR 2021

Sanné Mestrom, work in progress.

SM/ Yes, in a way the new works are more figurative than

those in the Corrections exhibition, albeit still modular

and somewhat contorted. The new works in Body as

Verb consist of interchangeable component parts made

from concrete, timber, plaster, steel and bronze. In

each work the sculptural forms that loosely resemble

body parts that are stacked on top of each other, but

not so as to form a single body, but rather a single

work might consist of one body holding another body.

Like people holding people, they assume an obscure

kind of intimacy - perhaps a comforting relationship

between forms, or perhaps a menacing co-dependency.

The irregularity of the forms is born out of their fairly

frenzied process of production: they are all made by

hand in a process of adding and subtracting materials

and elements, of building and breaking, constructing,

deconstructing, reconstructing, gathering and

disbursing, sealing and healing.


Watch Sanné working on Body as Verb.

URS/ THERE IS SOMETHING IN YOUR WORK THAT HARKS

URS/ AS LONG AS I’VE KNOWN YOU, YOU’VE BEEN

BACK TO MODERNIST WORKS, AND YET THEY FEEL

PASSIONATE ABOUT PUBLIC ART, THE WAY WE LIVE

DIFFERENT, LIKE MODERNISM HAS BEEN SUBVERTED

WITH SCULPTURE AND ALSO THE USE AND FUNCTION

BUT IT DOESN’T ACTUALLY REALISE IT YET… IS THERE

OF SCULPTURE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS IN

A SUBVERSION/ DECONSTRUCTION/ FINGER UP TO

REFERENCE TO THE NEW WORK?

INTERVIEW

MODERNISM?

SM/ Initially my practice was deeply engaged with

post-modern discourse - a critique of Modernism.

But over time the work has moved away from such

explicit assumptions. Certain ideological critiques

are embedded in my practice, as they are in me as a

person, but these days my creative process is a much

more intuitive one. I spend a long time - a year or

more - moving slowly towards a body of sculptures.

Over this time period, as I continue to proliferate in the

studio - continuously testing, experimenting and playing

with forms - the works themselves come into view -

sometimes leisurely, sometimes sluggishly. It’s a bit like

moving through a fog, where you can only take one step

at a time and you just hope like hell that you’re moving

in the right direction. But the most important thing is

just to keep on moving. Looking back on a body of work,

once it’s near completion, things all look so obvious -

the forms, the materials, the ideas coalesced - but the

process of getting there can be harrowing.

SM/ I’m really interested in sculpture being integrated

into our everyday lives, rather than an inert object

that sit politely in a corner or on a pedestal. This

is why I’m interested in what I think of as ‘playable

sculpture’: something that is integrated into public life

by inviting physical engagement, alongside the works

more traditional artistic, intellectual and cultural value.

Ultimately, I’m interested in adding to intergenerational

and child-friendly art experiences in the public realm.

This has become of increasing interest to me since

becoming a mother, and seeing the world down on my

knees, through my son’s eyes. A child's experience of

public space consists largely of steps, eaves, drains,

gutters, corners, potholes and reflections - the very

features of public space that are largely invisible to

adults. Too often they are a neglected amenity of urban

design. I’m interested in exploring what role art can play

in redressing the world as it’s seen through a child’s eyes

so that public space can become less threatening and

more curious, dynamic and alive.

17


In the Studio:

Jeremy Sharma

My studio is located in a building dedicated for artist studios. It is modest in size with

windows, quite untypical, and the setup changes every three years when I reconfigure

it for the types of projects I’m developing.

Right now it looks a little like a work station and jamming studio as I have many

musical instruments lying about, a little library and a section dedicated to storage. It’s

an organised mess.

I have my older works stored at the back, where I’ve built a storage system. I have

a huge work table with my electronics gear, and the other space is like a living area

when I house my musical instruments. I generally make my large drawings downstairs

in the multipurpose hall and my little ones on my kitchen table in my apartment. If it’s

video editing I do it mostly at home, too.

I try to spend time in the studio as much as I can. Right now it’s every week, but it gets

intense sometimes.

For me, art and music don’t necessarily influence each other, but I think most artists

are into music. Music is more abstract and formless and uses a different part of

your brain that goes beyond the visual field, and hence I think it’s more free. Maybe

because I’m not schooled and I don’t have to explain to anyone what my music means,

so I try to adopt that sensibility in my art. Art has crept into music for me in the way

that sound and music are legitimate disciplines or mediums in contemporary art

and interdisciplinary practice. It is really about doing what interests you. Music can

produce images and images can produce music too, either through data translation or

just imaginatively. In a way, music can be the subject of art and art can be the subject

of music.

Jeremy Sharma at Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney June 10 - July 3

MAR/APR 2021


“For me, art and music don’t

necessarily influence each other...

Music is more abstract and formless...”

Jeremy Sharma in his studio.

Interview

19


In the Studio:

Jeremy Sharma

Jeremy Sharma

Changi, 2020

carbon on paper

23 x 31 cm

MAR/APR 2021


Jeremy Sharma

The Bathers 2 (after Géricault), 2020

carbon on paper

24.9 x 34.5 cm

21


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Australian Contemporary Art Magazine


On Fire:

Climate and Crisis

Until 20 March 2021

ima.org.au

07 3252 5750

420 Brunswick Street

Fortitude Valley QLD

Gordon Bennett, Naomi Blacklock, Paul Bong, Hannah Brontë,

Michael Candy, Kinly Grey, Dale Harding, Tracey Moffatt with Gary Hillberg,

Erika Scott, Madonna Staunton, Anne Wallace, Judy Watson,

Warraba Weatherall, Tintin Wulia, and Jemima Wyman.

Curated by Tim Riley Walsh.

The IMA is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australian Government through Australia

Council for the Arts, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Federal, State, and Territory

Governments. The IMA is a member of Contemporary Art Organisations Australia. This project is supported by the Queensland

Government through Arts Queensland and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and

advisory body.

Image: Jemima Wyman, Haze...,

2020, 124.5 x 183 cm, handcut digital

photo collage. Courtesy the artist,

Milani Gallery, Brisbane, and Sullivan +

Strumpf, Sydney.


Glenn Barkley

Apocalyptic splash back (detail), 2021

earthenware

9.5 cm each (dimensions variable)

Glenn Barkley:

The Urn of Bitter

Prophecy

Anna Dunnill visits Glenn Barkley at home in his sprawling garden. It’s

a revealing perspective of the artist, who describes the language of

ceramics as a compost — an ancient pile, as old as people, holding

shapes, designs, glazes, cooking traditions, stories and the buried

thumbprints of millennia.

By Anna Dunnill

Exhibition: April 8 - May 8

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE APRIL 8

25


Glenn Barkley: The Urn

of Bitter Prophecy

01. Glenn Barkley

Jefferson with butter chicken tumour, 2021

earthenware

13 x 6 x 5 cm

02. Glenn Barkley

Mozart Stink Bottle with classical base, 2021

earthenware

11.5 x 10.5 x 4 cm

03. Glenn Barkley

Caesar Stink Bottle, 2021

earthenware

9 x 5.5 x 2.5 cm

04. Glenn Barkley

Small flouro vase, 2021

earthenware

9.5 x 7.5 cm

05. Glenn Barkley

onthatjaggedshore, 2021

earthenware

23 x 14 cm

06. Glenn Barkley

Stinky Little Baby Bottle, 2021

earthenware

10.5 x 8.5 x 4 cm

01 02

MAR/APR 2021


03

04 05

06

27


Glenn Barkley: The Urn

of Bitter Prophecy

“Good years follow bad, the earth

renews itself, trees fruit, flowers

bloom. Fire and flood and plague

and war pass over the surface, leaving

fragments in their wake.”

MAR/APR 2021

I

collect ceramic shards from my garden. They show up

with surprising regularity, broken fragments emerging

from the rich clay soil along with a beetroot or a clump

of mallow. When I brush off the dirt I can conjure the

vessel-bodies they came from, filling in the blanks of a

china plate or a patterned tile, following the curve of a

heavy brown-glazed flowerpot. Buried for years, perhaps

decades, they rise to the surface, disturbed by plant

roots, by the swelling and evaporation of water,

by digging.

In 2020 I got really into plants; when the usual routines

and milestones dissolved into a soupy blur I clung to the

cycles of nature to prove that time had passed. And it did

pass, slowly, steadily. The earth doth like a snake renew.

It sheds its exhausted old skin, emerges a gleaming

creature. Green shoots emerge, uncurl, sprout buds.

I became very invested in our compost bin with its

jewel-bright worms. I marvelled at the transformation

of rancid food scraps and torn paper into dark rich

sweet-smelling soil, which we dug back into the garden,

beginning again.

Glenn Barkley describes the language of ceramics as a

compost. It’s an ancient pile, as old as people, holding

shapes, designs, glazes, cooking traditions, stories, the

buried thumbprints of millennia. Fossicking through,

he pulls out an amphora—a large round urn with two

handles, scored with geometric shapes—made in Cyprus

around 2700 years ago. A salt-glazed ‘Beardman’ jug

from 17th century Germany, found on the wreck of the

Batavia, off the Western Australian coast. A bust of

Abraham Lincoln. A clay pipe. A Japanese glaze. A 1980s

mass-produced ceramic platypus. A 1789 Wedgwood

medallion depicting a classical Greek scene, made using

clay dug by Arthur Phillips from present-day Sydney

cove, within days of landing.

The compost of history is eaten by worms and excreted

as contemporary culture. “Worms are like the selfextruders,

in the same way that an artist might be,”

Barkley said in a 2015 interview. “When you read and

you look at history and look at objects, and you go

to museums and you look at ceramics, all this passes

through you into the work, in the same way as the worm

passes molecules and wastes through its body.”

My notes from our conversation are a catalogue of

extruded scraps: Fire, plague. Classicism. Internet

language. Protest. Folk tradition. Op-shop aesthetic.

The Founding Fathers.


Glenn Barkley

beforethefirstfarflash, 2021

earthenware

59 x 33 x 37 cm

29


“Worms are like the self-extruders, in

the same way that an artist might be.”

Glenn Barkley

pox pot with tokens and handles, 2021

earthenware

51 x 32 cm

MAR/APR 2021


Glenn Barkley: The Urn

of Bitter Prophecy

Surfaces textured and pitted, Barkley’s tiles and pots are

adorned with fragments pulled from the pile. A beard,

an ear, a pattern, a stamp; cast, pressed and moulded,

glazed in brilliant colours that defy the false purity of

classical white marble. These pots are monumental

in size, huge urns heavy with accumulated histories

transformed into something new.

Barkley’s pots also bear texts sifted from the humus of

literature, from ‘The Lark Ascending’ to Judith Wright’s

‘Black Cockatoos’ to a Guns’N’Roses song (‘I used to

do a little but a little wouldn’t do’, the refrain of both

addiction and capitalism). The exhibition’s title, and the

texts on several pots, are drawn from the final chorus of

Hellas, a narrative poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Written

in 1822, the poem recounts the ongoing war between

Greece and Turkey. At its end, a chorus of captive Greek

women plead for the end of war and death: The world’s

great age begins anew, they prophesy; we return to

the beginning of the cycle and history repeats itself, an

ouroboros, a perpetual worm.

four acres, which he manages to the point of being “sort

of in control but not really.” He likes “blowsy flowers”,

colourful untidy things like dahlias and camellias, like

the pops of colour in his glazes. “We’ve had the biggest

dahlias we’ve ever had, this year,” he says, “because of

the rain. It’s been rainy—really hot—rainy—really hot.

We’re going to have a bumper crop of citrus too. It’s

been a really great year for the garden, after a really bad

couple of years.”

Good years follow bad, the earth renews itself, trees

fruit, flowers bloom. Fire and flood and plague and war

pass over the surface, leaving fragments in their wake—

potsherds, poems, battleground debris—that sink down

into the clay and decompose, or wait there until they’re

disturbed by roots, by water, by digging.

Exhibition: April 8 - May 8

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE APRIL 8

Clay, Barkley says, is “inherently scatalogical, the same

way that gardening is”. He tells me about his garden:

31


MAR/APR 2021


Tony Albert

Conversations with Preston: Fennel Flowers and Sturt’s Desert Pea, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

62 x 57 cm

Tony Albert:

Conversations with

Margaret Preston

An important strand of Tony Albert’s practice is appropriated and

abstracted Aboriginal designs, symbols and caricature images of

Aboriginal people, under a loose banner termed ‘Aboriginalia’. In

this latest series of works ‘Conversations with Margaret Preston’,

Albert turns to the well-known oeuvre of Australian modernist

printmaker and painter Margaret Preston (1875-1963).

By Angela Goddard, Director, Griffith University Art Museum

Exhibition: March 18 - April 10

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE MARCH 18

33


MAR/APR 2021


Tony Albert

I feel the weight of the world on my

shoulder, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric

on Arches paper

57 x 76 cm

35


Tony Albert: Conversations

with Margaret Preston

Now acknowledged as Australia's preeminent

modernist between the wars, Preston

enjoyed immense popularity in art and design

communities in Australia from the 1920s for several

decades, with many of her articles published in The

Home magazine and Art in Australia encouraging

readers to take designs and symbols from Aboriginal

art to devise a uniquely Australian cultural expression.

One of the most popular of these was her 1930 article

‘The Application of Aboriginal Designs’ in which she

called for all Australians to ‘be Aboriginal’.(1) However

benevolent in intent, an expression of a larger interest

in Aboriginal art and culture informed by her travels

throughout Australia, these exhortations have since been

criticised by subsequent generations for their casual

lack of understanding of the appropriation of sacred

designs. As curator Hetti Perkins has said of Preston’s

use of Aboriginal motifs: ‘It's like speaking in a French

accent without speaking French. The accent is there, the

intonation is there, but the meaning is not.’(2)

Many contemporary Indigenous artists have since

engaged with Preston’s appropriations, calling out

her lack of acknowledgment of individual makers and

sources, including Trevor Nickolls, Marshall Bell, Richard

Bell, and perhaps most determinedly, Gordon Bennett.

Bennett took motifs including the male Aboriginal figure

from Preston’s ‘Expulsion’ and the black swan from a

1923 woodcut and tangled them in Piet Mondrian’s high

modernist grid in his ‘Home Décor’ series (1995-2013),

and directly quoted from a suite of designs Preston

published in Art in Australia in 1925. In his later series

of abstract paintings ‘Home Décor: After M. Preston’

(2008-13), Albert has primarily been drawn to Preston’s

hand coloured woodcut still lives of native flowers. These

works were incredibly popular but often dismissed as

‘decorative’ by critics and the art establishment. Preston

herself was dismissed as a mere flower painter by many

powerful art world figures such as Norman Lindsay

and John Reed, for her privileging the decorative and

avoiding realism or literary references in her work.

Albert’s interest lies in the consequences of Preston’s

encouragements - these kitsch caricatures of Aboriginal

designs and motifs still found on tea towels, tablecloths,

table runners, handkerchiefs, placemats, and lengths

of fabric, rather than the sophisticated abstraction she

envisioned. Albert’s own relationship to these objects

is affectionate - he has collected these items since

childhood, tempered with a keen awareness of the

cultural inappropriateness and disregard for the spiritual

significance they embody. His collection of fabric

accumulated over decades, sourced from op shops, eBay

and friends, has in part been seen in an earlier body

of work ‘Mid Century Modern’ 2016 as backgrounds to

vintage ashtrays where ‘Aboriginal faces and bodies

were once receptacles for hot ash and cigarette butts.’(3)

Their motifs include a mélange of caricatured Aboriginal

faces, stylised boomerangs and other weapons; motifs

and animal shapes borrowed from Yolgnu and Tiwi

bark paintings, to north Queensland rainforest shields

and jawun baskets, to desert body painting designs, all

mixed in together. These are cut into shapes and glued

onto Arches paper or canvas, ringed with painted black

borders. Albert chooses source prints by Preston for the

graphic strength of their hand-coloured flat planes of

Cubist-influenced modernism.

MAR/APR 2021

Tony Albert

Conversations with Preston: Peace Lily (detail), 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

153 x 103 cm


37


Tony Albert: Conversations

with Margaret Preston

MAR/APR 2021

LEFT: Tony Albert

Abstract: Aboriginal Art IV, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

76 x 57 cm

RIGHT: Tony Albert

Conversations with Preston: Abstraction (Curtain Design), 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

153 x 102 cm


39


Tony Albert: Conversations

with Margaret Preston

MAR/APR 2021

Albert’s major diptych ‘Conversations with Preston:

Christmas Bells’ 2020 is based on Preston’s handcoloured

print ‘Christmas Bells’ 1925, held in the

National Gallery of Australia’s collection. The reds and

yellows of the native Blandfordia nobilis are made up

of strong black outlines on bright red fabric. The vase,

which was black and inscribed with a white V pattern in

Preston’s original, is here made up of squares of mostly

linen tea towels, many of them with the text ‘Australian

Aboriginal Art’ with glimpses of both a calendar and a

map of the continent.

Interestingly, fake Preston works abound in op shops and

on the internet, and Albert has used several questionable

Prestons as source images further extending a complex

web of appropriation and cultural theft, such as his three

depictions of single protea flowers.

Albert has also used one of Preston’s mysterious late

religious works in this series. Her 1952 colour stencil,

gouache on thin black card ‘Expulsion’ was part of

a series of biblical themed works, popular perhaps

due to post-war religious revivalism that also saw the

inauguration of the Blake Prize for Religious art in 1951.

Never sold by the artist, the work was gifted by her

widower in 1967 to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

On a flat background, at the very top of the composition,

a white God presides symmetrically like an icon figure,

with a whip in one hand and a sword in another. Instead

of an archway to the garden, a corrugated iron fence

and a wire gate, secured with a padlock as the central

focal point. Adam and Eve are depicted as Aboriginal

people – they have dark skin and wear loincloths, being

driven from the garden into an Australian landscape

overrun with scotch thistles. Adam holds an object

aloft, appealing to the God who has forsaken him; Eve

holds a baby. This work is confounding in its casting of

the sinners as black, and god as white. It could perhaps

be seen as depicting the Christian biblical allegory to

describe how Aboriginal people were cast out from their

own country, by the misuse of Christianity itself, but

this is reading too much into the work of an artist who

avoided political statements herself on the realities of life

for Aboriginal people.

Preston saw the use of Aboriginal imagery as a vehicle,

a way for Australian artists to make truly original

contributions to the pursuit of Modernism. Art historian

Ian MacLean asks if Bennett’s works both parody

Preston as well as participate in and reproduce her

framing of Aboriginality within modernism.(4) Albert is

also doing this and more - not making a damning call

to denounce Preston, but, as the title of this series title

suggests, answering her call to dialogue with Aboriginal

art and motifs with his own conversation, while also

demonstrating that the ambition to ‘be Aboriginal’ has

resulted in the sometimes grotesque caricatures we see

in these fabrics, which counteract the positive spirit of

her making. Albert says:

At the core of my work is a kind of reconciliation with

these racist objects’ very existence. Yes, they are painful

reiterations of a violent and oppressive history, but

we cannot hide or destroy them because they are an

important societal record that should not be forgotten.

I’m trying to reconcile those two positions.(5)

This project of constructive reconciliation has multiple

implications. Albert highlights Preston’s formidable

skill at rendering the humble still life into the most

graphically powerful expressions of Modernism in

Australia, while also reminding us of the consequences

of using sacred images without acknowledgment or

respect. His intention is dialogue; a conversation, which

is not to say these conversations will not be confronting

and uncomfortable, but will hopefully and ultimately also

be productive.

Exhibition: March 18 - April 10

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE MARCH 18


Tony Albert

Conversations with Preston: Protea (attributed) III, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

76 x 58 cm

Endnotes

1. Margaret Preston, ‘The Application of Aboriginal Designs’ Art in Australia, 3rd series, no 31, March 1930.

2. Hetti Perkins quoted in Alexa Moses,’ Shadow cast over a painter's legacy’, Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2005, p.11.

3. Bruce Johnson McLean, ‘Invisible truths’, Tony Albert: Visible [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of

Modern Art, Brisbane, 2018, p.18.

4. Ian McLean, ‘Gordon Bennett's Home Decor: the joker in the pack’, Law Text Culture, 4, 1998, p.290.

5. Tony Albert interviewed by Maura Reilly, ‘I am important: An interview with Tony Albert’, Tony Albert, Art & Australia/ Dott

Publishing, Paddington, NSW, 2015, p.49.

41


Watch Tony working on Conversations with Margaret Preston.

MAR/APR 2021

Tony Albert

Abstract: Aboriginal Art II, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

153 x 102 cm


43


Tony Albert

Conversations with Preston: Peace Lily, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

153 x 103 cm


Tony Albert

Conversations with Preston: Ranunculus, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

153 x 103 cm

45


María Fernanda

Cardoso

Three continents and 30 years of art making.

MAR/APR 2021

The work of María Fernanda Cardoso has a consistent

feature – looking at the different ways geometry

manifesting itself in living creatures. Cardoso has

developed a powerful body of work based on the

intrinsic forms of animals and plants, and combining

them in unexpected ways. Her work evolves in series

that are developed over a long periods of time, from

sculpture to scientific research, through to public

performance.

Initially when Cardoso still lived in Colombia, she would

take local materials and native dead animals in order

to build sculptures and enigmatic objects alluding to

pre-Columbian myths and indigenous traditions. Typical

objects such as totumas, earth soaps, homemade glue,

bocadillos, and other elements pertaining to local

cultures were combined in surprising works. Pieces with

flies, grasshoppers, snakes, wall lizards and frogs are

considered key pieces of contemporary Colombian art:

one of them, Corona para una princesa Chibcha(Crown

for a Chibcha Princess) was awarded the first prize for the

II Biennial at Bogotá’s Museum of Modern Art in 1990.

In the early 1990s, Cardoso moved to the United States,

where she began her research on fleas – a ubiquitous

domestic parasite. A few years later, the Cardoso Flea

Circus, initially a performance belonging to the realm of

art, becomes an authentic mass show. Simultaneously,

Cardoso investigates the behaviour of insects, with a

particular interest in the phenomenon of camouflage,

characteristic of some species that may be seen as

a reflection of the immigrant’s will to belong and to

become one with her context.

After living in San Francisco for several years, Cardoso

moved to Sydney, Australia. This led to a renewed

investigation of different traditions and materials, such

as sheep’s wool and emu feathers, while preserving

an emphasis on the intrinsic geometry of the organic.

Cardoso devotes long periods of time to her series,

with her work on fleas taking a whole decade. Since

the beginning of this century, the artist has undertaken

an investigation into the incredible formal diversity of

the reproductive organs in some animals, particularly

at the microscopic level, in a long-term project on the

morphology of reproductive organs of small animals and

insects, featured in the Museum of Copulatory Organs

(MoCO).

In the last decade, Cardoso has delved further into

her research on plants and animals, often resorting to

scientific tools and processes to create images otherwise

impossible to attain. The Naked Flora series shows

close-ups of reproductive organs of flowers, composite

images obtained by a complex optical and digital setup.

On the Origins of Art I and II and the Actual Size series

focus on the elaborate courtship “dances” of miniature

Peacock spiders. In recent years she has created several

large-scale public works: Sandstone Pollen, scientifically

accurate pollen models digitally carved in sandstone.

While I Live I Will Grow, a living urban sculpture that

embodies non-human timeframes as a powerful

commentary about the transience of monuments, and

Tree Full of Life, a large tree whose foliage is entirely

composed of insects that resemble leaves. Gumnuts,

her latest series, uses seeds from various species of

Australian trees to create vibrant optical pieces that

highlight the intricate morphologies of this overlooked

but ever present feature of the local landscape.

José Roca & Alejandro Marin

Excerpts from: Animalario de María Fernanda Cardoso.

Bogotá: Seguros Bolívar, 2013. p5

Exhibition: May 20 - June 5

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE MAY 20


47


PREVIOUS PAGE: María Fernanda Cardoso with her work

Eucalyptus Gumnuts Kuru Alala, Photo credit: Jillian Nalty

MAR/APR 2021

LEFT: María Fernanda Cardoso

Emu Flag #1, 2007

emu feathers, fibreglass netting, metal rod, glue

209 x 180 x 20 cm

RIGHT: María Fernanda Cardoso

Reversible B (Emu rectangle worn), 2006-2008

180 x 120cm


49


María Fernanda Cardoso: Timeline

CALABAZAS

1987 — Moves to NY

from Bogota, Colombia

– completes Masters of

Fine Arts, Sculpture at Yale

University 1990.

CORN COIL

AMERICAN MARBLE

1989

1990 Arte Colombiano de

los 80: Escultura. Centro

Colombo Americano. Bogota,

Colombia.

1994 Ante America. (Touring

exhibition). Biblioteca Luis

Angel Arango, Bogota,

Colombia.

Collection: Tate Modern,

London and the Museum of

Contemporary Art, Sydney

1992

CEMETERY / VERTICAL GARDEN (1992-1999)

1999 Modern Starts: People, Places,

Things, Museum of Modern Art. New

York, U.S.A

2003 Zoomorphia: María Fernanda

Cardoso. MCA Museum of

Contemporary Art. Sydney

Collection: Perez Art Museum, Miami

2002

BUTTERFLY DRAWINGS SERIES (2002-2003)

1990

CROWN FOR A CHIBCHA PRINCESS

1994

CARDOSO FLEA CIRCUS (1994-2000)

2006

II Bienal de Bogotá. Museo de Arte

Moderno. Bogota, Colombia. First Prize

Collection: DAROS Latinamerica

Collection

Returns to Bogota.

1991 — Moves to California.

Cardoso Flea Circus, live performances and exhibitions

including , San Francisco Exploratorium, The New Museum

of Contemporary Art, New York, Centre Georges Pompidou,

Paris, Sydney Opera House.

Collection : Tate Modern, London, UK

EMU SERIES (2006-2009)

WOVEN WATER / SUBMARINE LANDSCAPE (1994-2003)

2003 Woven Water. 50th International Art Exhibition Venice

Biennale. ILLA Pavillion, curated by Irma Aristizábal.

2015 Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art from Latin America.

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, USA.

Collection: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston

1997 — Moves to Sydney.


IT’S NOT SIZE THAT MATTERS IT IS SHAPE (2008-2011)

SANDSTONE POLLEN (2014-2016)

Museum of Copulatory Organs (MoCO). 18th Biennale

of Sydney. Sydney, Australia.

International Convention Centre ICC, Darling Harbour,

Sydney. Commissioned by Lend Lease.

Collection: National Gallery of Australia

MUSEUM OF COPULATORY ORGANS (MOCO) (2008-2012)

MARATUS SERIES (2014-PRESENT)

2008

2014

On the Origin of Art, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Hobart, Tasmania.

Collection: Tate Modern, London and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney

2009

2015

GUMNUTS KURU ALALA (2009-21)

2011 Kuru Alala, Tjampi Desert Weavers residency

2009-12 Kuru Ala: Eyes Open Tjanpi Dessert Weavers. María Fernanda

Cardoso, Alison Clouson – a nation-wide touring exhibition

WHILE I LIVE I WILL GROW (2015-2018)

Green Square Public Art Program

Commissioned by the City of Sydney Council.

51


MAR/APR 2021


Agua Tejida Blanca / Woven Water White, 2003

Blue Starfish, metal

dimensions variable

Included as Colombia’s representation in the 50th

International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale. ILLA

Pavillion, curated by Irma Aristizábal. Venice, Italy.

53


Yang

Yongliang:

Allegory of

the cave

In the lead up to his June exhibition, Yang

Yongliang chats about New York and its influence

on his work.

MAR/APR 2021

Yang Yongliang

Early Spring, 2019

giclee print on fine art paper

200 x 135 cm

edition of 7 + 2 AP


55


Yang Yongliang:

Allegory of the cave

YOU MOVED TO NEW YORK FROM SHANGHAI IN 2018.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Yang Yongliang (YYL)/ I moved to New York from Shanghai

in the summer of 2018. I was thrilled to find a cozy studio

office in Garment District in midtown Manhattan. It was

a dream come true. Throughout the turbulent year of

2020, I stayed in the city and experienced the ups and the

downs with it. In the hardest time, I’ve seen New York’s

vulnerability as well as its strength. New York used to

be a dreamland to me. But after 2020, it started to feel

like home. I grew a sense of conviction with New York

along with its hardship. Strangely, it gives me a sense of

belonging.

From February 2020 until now, small businesses moved

out from Manhattan one after another. By the time my

lease ended in November, most of my neighbours on

my floor were gone. To me, it also doesn’t make sense

to keep an office aside from home. I extended my

office lease until my home lease ended, before leaving

Manhattan by the end of January 2021. Now I’m happily

relocated in a loft space in Long Island City, Queens.

Moving to Queens is liberating, I have to admit!

DO YOU WORK PRIMARILY USING A COMPUTER? WHAT

KIND OF STUDIO DO YOU HAVE? WHAT WOULD YOUR

DREAM STUDIO BE?

HOW DO CONCEPTS FORM FOR YOU?

YYL/ I believe good concepts form naturally. Concepts

form naturally for me, at least. The one thing I know to do

is to be patient with myself. I also believe that concepts

are very personal. It has to do with the places one has

lived in, the cultures one has experienced, the languages

one has spoken and the people one has cared for. I try

not to change the concepts before new concepts were

naturally formed.

Recently I’ve been thinking about a new series of works

that are more deeply tied to nature. Even though I still

live in the city, I don’t necessarily interact with it. Instead,

I go to upstate New York every other week for open air.

Nature has given me new impact in the year of 2020.

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?

YYL/ A Brief History of Time (Stephen Hawking), Homo

Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Yuval Noah Harari),

and Killing Commendatore (Haruki Murakami).

Exhibition: June 10 - July 3

+ REGISTER FOR PREVIEW BEFORE JUNE 10

YYL/ Yes, on daily basis I work primarily using a

computer. At the moment, I have a home office with

many screens in it, in which I refer to as my cave. I like my

cave for what it is right now. However, due to the travel

restriction that have pretty much grounded me for a year,

my dream studio would be the same cave with mobility.

It would be wonderful if the cave can travel freely.

MAR/APR 2021


“I also believe that concepts are very

personal. It has to do with the places

one has lived in, the cultures one

has experienced, the languages one

has spoken and the people one has

cared for.”

Yang Yongliang in New York City.

INTERVIEW

57


THIS SUMMER

SEE THE WORLD THROUGH ART AND DESIGN

OVER 100 ARTISTS & DESIGNERS FROM 33 COUNTRIES

FREE ENTRY

Aïda Muluneh Seed of the soul 2017 (detail) from the A Memory of Hope series 2017

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Bowness Family Fund for Photography, 2018 © Aïda Muluneh

The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Major Supporter Bowness Family Foundation for their support.

NGV.MELBOURNE

PRESENTING PARTNER PRINCIPAL PARTNER MAJOR PARTNERS

NGV TRIENNIAL CHAMPIONS

LOTI & VICTOR SMORGON FUND | LEIGH CLIFFORD AO & SUE CLIFFORD | BARRY JANES & PAUL CROSS | FELTON BEQUEST |

JOHN HIGGINS AO & JODIE MAUNDER | NGVWA | PAULA FOX AO & FOX FAMILY FOUNDATION | NEVILLE & DIANA BERTALLI


OC CURRENT

AFFAIR

February – 19 June 2021 // 13 February – 19 June 2021 // 13 February

BREAKING NEWS

roppaNOW // OCCURRENT AFFAIR // proppaNOW // OCCURRENT AFFAIR // proppaNOW /

// Vernon Ah Kee // Tony Albert // Richard Bell // Megan Cope //

n Cope// Jennifer Herd // Gordon Hookey // Laurie Nilsen // Vernon A

UQ

ART MUSEUM


Last Word:

Do you collect?

Robert Postema and Dr Patricia Jungfer

MAR/APR 2021

Whether it is the opening of a commercial

gallery’s latest offering or a curated exhibition

at a public gallery, contemporary art has

its protocols and rituals. The attendees are frequently

dressed in a neutral colour, more probably than not in

black, so as not to overwhelm the art that is on display. If

you go to these events often enough, the faces become

familiar. There is an acknowledging nod and smile. You

start to chat with others. Connections and commonalities

are explored, with the work closest to you often the

focus of a shared commentary before the ritual of

engagement follows a predictable path.

Following preliminaries, the conversation moves on to

‘have you bought anything in the show’ (commercial

exhibitions) or ‘are you familiar with the artist’ (public

exhibitions). Not infrequently, the question then arises

‘are you a collector?’ We can recall the first time this

question was posed. We looked at each other and the

provocateur, not knowing what to answer. As time has

gone by, we understand we do ‘collect’. To us it means

supporting a sector of the community that is brave and

prepared to document and comment on the issues of

our time. It also means we have a hopeless addiction to

buying art.

Of course, and almost inevitability having made the ‘we

are collectors’ admission, the next question is ‘what is

the focus of your collection’ Our hearts would sink again

because we would then have to confess that there is no

focus, no theme and we cannot even stick to a genre.

Behind our cheery façade, we worry ‘what does the

person asking this question make of us’ because we

have an ‘eclectic’ collection. The polite description of

what we have accumulated over the years. We admire

the collector who sets out to buy only women artists,

time-based media art or some other defined or erudite

theme. We are in awe of the discipline that comes

with buying exclusively conceptual or minimalist work.

However, these are not characteristics we possess. Alas,

as well as having little self-control, we appear to have

no focus in our collection. Initially we would then smile

and quickly shift the conversation to what the other

person’s focus was. We knew this was safer ground and

terminate the squirming discomfort that reminded us

of our childhood and being caught being naughty or

undisciplined.

We don’t worry about this question anymore. We

have worked out we just like seeing, experiencing and

immersing ourselves in contemporary art. We can cope

with the dreaded question now. We can even afford a

knowing smile, when it comes up. We do in fact have a

theme to our collection. It reflects who we are and how

we view the world. No, we don’t collect one type of art

or one medium or whatever. We just collect what we love

and what speaks to us!


Sydney Ball, Infinex #45 (2019), in Robert and Patricia’s home.

61


“As time has gone by, we understand

we do ‘collect’. To us it means

supporting a sector of the community

that is brave and prepared to

document and comment on the issues

of our time. It also means we have a

hopeless addiction to buying art.”

Tony Albert, Brothers (The Prodigal Son) 1 (2020), in

Robert and Patricia’s home.


Sanné Mestrom, Garden commission (2016),

in Robert and Patricia’s garden.

63


Quick Curate:

Renewel

Grant Stevens

The Waterfalls III, 2016

archival ink on archival paper

82.5 x 55 cm

edition of 3 + 2AP

AUD $1,950


Sam Leach

Boucher x Superstudio, 2020

oil on wood

50 x 50 cm

AUD $18,700

Sam Jinks

Untitled (Babies), 2012

silicone, pigment, resin, human hair

36 x 36 x 18 cm

edition 3 of 3 + 2AP

AUD $38,500

65


Up Next

TONY ALBERT

CONVERSATIONS WITH MARGARET PRESTON

18.03.21

GLENN BARKLEY

THE URN OF BITTER PROPHECY

08.04.21

SANNÉ MESTROM

THE BODY IS A VERB

15.04.21

MAY

JUNE

20.05.21 María Fernanda Cardoso

Gumnuts and Sandstone

10.06.21 Yang Yongliang

10.06.21 Jeremy Sharma


Kirsten Coelho

Kirsten Coehlo creates functional forms and vessels of otherworldly perfection. In Kirsten Coelho,

the first major publication on a practice spanning thirty years, author Wendy Walker traces the

evolution of Coelho’s textured practice, in which an ever-expanding framework of art historical,

literary and cinematic references has driven a succession of formal shifts – a shaping of changes.

This beautiful, lavishly illustrated book of 176 pages will be released in

September 2020. For pre-orders and enquiries, please contact publisher

Wakefield Press at info@wakefieldpress.com.au or phone +61.8.83524455.


Tony Albert, History Repeats, 2020

acrylic and vintage appropriated fabric on Arches paper

76 x 57 cm


SYDNEY

799 Elizabeth St

Zetland, Sydney NSW 2017

Australia

P +61 2 9698 4696

E art@sullivanstrumpf.com

SINGAPORE

P +65 83107529

Megan Arlin | Gallery Director

E megan@sullivanstrumpf.com

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