30 May - 15 Jun 2019

Opening Night | Thursday 30 May, 6pm–8pm

CURATORS | Peter Burke + Robert Mangion




Damiano Bertoli, Peter Burke, Robert Mangion, Elizabeth Newman, David Thomas 

Unfinished: Décor is an ongoing project experimenting with spatial, material, temporal and narrative structures drawn out of historic conceptual-art contexts. The project resists the traditional boundaries that govern artistic presentation and actively seeks to emphasise porosity, precariousness and doubt as strategies for reflection.

Robert Mangion and Peter Burke invited artists Damiano Bertoli, Elizabeth Newman and David Thomas to respond to the notion of the unfinished in art. Together they trace connections between individual work processes that engage with notions of the unfinished, dealing with the indefinite postponement of closure and making inaccessible the object of certainty. The artists attempt to establish contexts by which the art object cannot be edified or concluded. Instead, there is a bid to establish deeper ontological structures through which artworks are revealed.

Unfinished: Décor draws upon the last work by Marcel Broodthaers entitled Décor: A Conquest (1974). Broodthaers’ exhibition was spread over two rooms and formed a temporary structure that framed the artworks as objects in a precarious way. Contemplation of his installation opens various conceptual dialogues for our renewed approach in Unfinished: Décor. It expands on art’s tactile engagement with the gallery as non-space, the proximity to past and present temporal modes of presentation, the tautness between subject and object interactions, and a post-medium shift to a performative ontology as art practice. Unfinished: Décor develops a curatorial structure from this set of ideas, locating notions of contemporaneity from the passive notion of ‘being in time’ to an active notion of temporal disjunction.

The installation consists of sculptural objects, painting, photography, video and performative processes, with particular interest in framing temporal events as material abstraction. It will be a situation that explores material in performative ways. The work incorporates processes of layering, reconfiguration and porosity, as means to extend the art objects spatial boundaries, situated within manifold temporalities. Rather than resorting to descriptions of the artworks properties, the art object will be situated as a series of causal relations. The artworks unfoldment will be surveyed throughout the show. The unity and structure of individual artworks are conceived within the interplay with other works and the renewal of their perimeters over time. We will examine how artworks can undo the gallery boundaries and extend as choreographed events into satellite sites through performative processes.

Damiano Bertoli challenges ideas of authorship, influence, and the inscribed flow of art-historical time, often bringing together artworks, historical events and cultural material to examine their form and language by means of contextualisation. Bertoli’s methodology explores the principles of assemblage and montage across sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, video and performance. Articulating an ongoing investigation into how artists negotiate the past, present and future through their ideas and objects, Bertoli’s work interrogates the narrative of time, critically positioning his own and other artists’ work in a continuum in order to question the nature of art-making itself. Bertoli received a PhD in Fine Art from Monash University in 2014, and exhibits his work extensively in Australia and overseas.

In his performative art practice Peter Burke examines the blended relationships between the artworld, commerce and the public and how they can be negotiated. He achieves this through creating ‘pop-up’ interventions at highly regulated commercial and civic sites where art and the public intersect. These sites include international art fairs, galleries, shopping precincts and busy streets. The artworks aim to manipulate the conditions of these sites by combining fiction and humour to ‘perform surprise’ in a new manner to contribute an understanding of art as social space. Burke completed his PhD at RMIT University in 2017.

Elizabeth Newman has been making and exhibiting art since the early1980s. Newman studied at the Victorian College of the Arts and has participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Australia and overseas. Using painting, installation, printmaking and found objects to articulate an idiosyncratic subjective position, Newman's work makes manifest questions about the philosophical and social conditions of art. Using simple forms, minimal means and found materials, Newman proposes a subjectivity engaged in the materiality of being, while at the same time caught in the nets of representation. A substantial monograph, More Than What There Is, has been published by 3-ply publications. Newman’s work is represented by Neon Parc, Melbourne, and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.

Robert Mangion works across performance, installation, painting and drawing. His trans-disciplinary practice makes use of automatist process that separates verbal thought from cognitive operations such as emotional affect and mental images. His work incorporates multiple registers of signification, in which perception is shown to be internally fractured and split. His inquiries are interwoven across key visual and textual frameworks—the aftermath of conceptualism and its techniques, psychoanalytic theory and practice, performativity and artist/subject relationships. Mangion exhibits his work extensively and received a travel award from RMIT University to work at the Freud Museum in London in 2014. He was awarded his Doctorate from RMIT University in 2016.

David Thomas has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally since 1980. His work explores the contemplative function of painting, photo painting and installation in the contemporary world, in particular how new iterations of the monochrome tradition can address the perception of time and space, complexity, knowing and feeling. His work is held in public collections in Australia including the National Gallery of Victoria, Australian National Gallery, Heide Museum of Modern Art, RMIT University, Auckland Art Gallery and in international private collections. He holds a PhD from RMIT University where he is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Art. He occasionally curates and writes on contemporary Eastern and Western art. He is represented by Tristian Koenig Gallery, Melbourne, Minus Space, New York, USA and 2810, Bonn, Germany.

IMAGES | Damiano Bertoli, Continuous Moment: Le désir... (St. Tropez #4, After Tim Page), 2011. Hand-tinted print on Hahnemule paper | Robert Mangion, Vicarious/Object Lost and Found, 2017. Mixed media installation. Photo: Marcel Feillafe | David Thomas, Taking a monochrome for a walk (yellow), 2017-18. Acrylic on paper over laser print | Peter Burke, Waiting for You, 2017. Pigment inkjet print. Photo: Andrew McLaughlin | Elizabeth Newman, To love is to give what one lacks, 2012. Found object. Photo: Kieren Seymour | Robert Mangion & Peter Burke, Lost/Found, 2017. Performance still | Robert Mangion, Vicarious/Object Lost and Found, 2017 (detail). Mixed media installation. Photo: Marcel Feillafe. Courtesy the artists.