18 Sep - 5 Oct 2019
Opening Night | Thursday 19 Sep, 6pm–8pm
Will Cooke, Ham Darroch, Annelies Jahn, Lieutenant + Vassallo, Katy Mutton, Nadia Odlum, Britt Salt.
Plexus is a group show of Australian artists who work with geometric abstraction and spatial intervention. These ‘process-based’ abstractionists each use self-designed systems to generate their artworks. Deriving from the Latin ‘to braid’, the title refers to an intricate system or network of parts. This term could refer to the intricacies in each individual’s art making. In bringing this group of artists together, their creative systems will interweave creating a larger ‘plexus’.
The artists in Plexus could be described as ‘process-based’ abstractionists. Using repetitious and laborious actions to create artworks, they share an interest in geometry and spatial intervention.
These artists have an intense devotion to their self-designed ‘systems of making’. Each has been slowly developed over years and years of studio-based research, constantly making and refining the smallest of details. These systems are a sophisticated, highly intricate and maybe even unnecessarily elaborate way to generate their final artworks. It is a process that is unseen to the public, but one that is a necessity for these artworks to exist. In bringing artists together that share such a detailed approach to art making, viewers will be reminded of the often-unbelievable lengths artists go to in making their artworks.
While the systems used to make these artworks highlight artistic labour, the end product is far from a show of personal expression. The intimacy of the time spent sweating it out in the studio is, for the most part, hidden by the polished finish of these artworks. They are Post Minimalist and mechanical, cool and detached, shiny and clean. This tension between the creation and finish of the work becomes a focus of the exhibition. In a way, it echoes a similar tension evident in contemporary life. It is like the coldness of scrolling through social media on your smart-phone, connecting with your loved ones through the endless cold interfaces.
The artworks in Plexus range from large-scale, site-responsive installation, to more traditional sculptural and wall hanging pieces. Bringing these artworks together, each the product of its own unique and laborious system, implies a larger network of creative production to be decoded by visitors. Initially the immersive space has been designed to slow down viewers, inviting them to take a closer look at these artworks and decipher the systems behind them. You have to get up close to look for the subtle presence of the artists hand in these artworks.
CURATOR | Kate Vassallo
Will Cooke (b. 1989) is a Sydney based artist whose practice adopts abstraction to understand the connection between body and mind. Cooke is intrigued by the invisibility of memory, and the way it is experienced within the body. He explores his own personal mythologies and memories, and attempts to make these internal thoughts and experiences external. He makes illusion-based paintings that begin a dialogue, and thus, the work develops a sensory relationship with the viewer. Cooke uses various supports, such as aluminum, canvas and paper, to concrete the sensation of memory in the physical. Cooke’s focus on the relationship between form, surface, and the viewer, produces independent physical objects that transcend the mind. Will finished a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) in 2011. Cooke has shown in numerous group exhibitions around Australia and has had solo exhibitions with NKN Gallery, Melbourne (2017), Alexandra Porter, New York (2016), NKN Gallery, Melbourne (2016), Chalk Horse, Sydney (2015).
Will is represented by NKN Gallery, Melbourne.
Ham Darroch is an Australian artist working in sculpture, performance and drawing. His sculptures are created from existing objects which are altered and redirected using colour to reveal new meanings. His paintings are inspired by the action of everyday objects. His imagery is universal evoking shared histories and experiences, place and perception while revealing a deep sensitivity to the optical effects of geometric colour. In early 2006, he completed an MFA (research) COFA University of New South Wales and in 1997 a Bachlor of Arts from Australian National University. From 2006 he worked as an assistant to Bridget Riley.
Annelies Jahn is a Sydney-based multi-disciplinary artist. Her art practice investigates ideas of space, relationship and temporality as they are experienced through things or objects, and space or place. The contingency of these perceptions is observed via the agency of measure to become a process of art-making. Annelies’ work has been exhibited in group shows both in Australia and overseas. She has had solo shows and short residencies in Sydney. Her work is held in the National Art School Archive and in private collections. Annelies has held an extensive professional career (thirty years) in graphic design and publishing, working in Sydney and London. She has since completed her Master of Fine Arts at The National Art School, Darlinghurst. Annelies is a sessional and public programs teacher of Drawing at the National Art School. She is a Director at the Sydney ARI, Stacks Projects Inc., having previously acted as a director at ES74 Gallery, 2015-2016. Annelies was awarded in the .M Contemporary, YAI 2015. She was the recipient of Coutts Family Award for Excellence in Drawing, FONAS Drawing Award and has been a finalist in the John Olsen Drawing Prize.
James Lieutenant and Kate Vassallo have created large-scale, wall-painting artworks as a collaborative pair since 2013. Currently based in Canberra, the pair previously lived and worked in Sydney from 2011-2018. They each completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) from the Australian National University School of Art in 2010, where they met. Since then they have each sustained a solo practice while also working together. The collaborative pair has delivered highly praised solo exhibitions at respected ARIs and institutions throughout Australia, including Canberra Museum and Gallery, Bus Projects (Melbourne), Archive Space (Sydney) and Canberra Contemporary Art Space. Lieutenant + Vassallo have also been engaged for commission projects by institutions including Artbank, Goulburn Regional Gallery/Goulburn Mulwaree Council and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, as well as private clients.
Nadia Odlum is an emerging artist and researcher from Sydney, Australia. Her work explores the perceptual experience of navigation within urban and architectural environments. In particular, she is interested in the connections between vision and movement in perception, and the way the various sensorimotor capacities of the body impact on our understanding of and feelings within physical space. Her practice spans drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation. Nadia completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) at the National Art School in 2012, graduating with First Class Honours and the Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. In 2016 she completed a Master of Fine Arts by research at UNSW Art & Design, for which she was a recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award. She has presented work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the New York Transit Museum, The Murray Art Museum in Albury, Artspace, Firstdraft and Penrith Regional Gallery. In 2018 she was an Artist in Residence and Education Fellow at the Wassaic Project in New York.
Britt Salt’s practice is an ongoing spatial experiment where fundamental elements such as line, form and space intertwine. Employing repetition and materials that have an inherent ability to create movement, her work centres on the symbiosis of art and architectural practice and questions how these genres influence the notion of place and impermanence in contemporary urban environments.
Britt received the Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship for Emerging Artists in 2010, which supported residencies in the U.K., France and China. In 2015 she undertook a residency in Tokyo, which culminated in a public installation at Youkobo Art Space. Her work has been selected as a finalist in numerous awards including the Paramor Prize 2017 and Gold Coast Art Award 2015. Most recently Britt has completed residencies at Arteles (Finland), Heima (Iceland) and the Australian Tapestry Workshop. She has worked on significant large-scale commissioned artworks for Fender Katsalidis Architects, Büro North and Asia Pacific Airports Melbourne.
IMAGES | Ham Darroch, Measure.2.2015, 2015, wall painting, dimensions variable, installed at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair Carriageworks | James Lieutenant + Kate Vassallo, Mistints #3 (Canberra), 2014, wall painting, dimensions variable, installed at Canberra Museum and Gallery. Photograph Rob Little | Courtesy the artists.