Thursday, April 26, 2012




BRANDT McCOOK + JOANNE RITSON
Works grouped by Michael Graf

MAY 2012
GREENWOOD STREET PROJECT
2-6 Thursday & Friday, and by appointment (last day Friday 1 June)
Greenwood Street Project is a creative initiative under the supervision of Donald Holt & Tomislav Nikolic, located in Abbotsford, Victoria.
Greenwood Street Project
9 Greenwood Street
Abbotsford 3067
T: 613 9415 8893



Brandt McCook + Joanne Ritson
Greenwood Street Project, May 2012

I’ve known Brandt McCook and Joanne Ritson for many years. They, however, have never met or seen each other’s work until this exhibition at Greenwood Street Project. Although their work doesn’t resemble each other’s in appearance, I sense parallel modes of seeing and making. In particular, both are drawn to patterned structures and the decorative arts. Before embarking on her current painted works, Ritson’s preferred format was coloured wax, which formed intricate inlaid reliefs. Although recalling pietra dure and marquetry, these works incorporate drips and splashes that highlight their molten origin. McCook, likewise, constructs small panels made from tiny sections of plastic shopping bags. This technique resembles a master making a stained glass window, however abject McCook’s choice of media. Because of the vulnerable nature of the materials they employ, doubts are raised about the long-term preservation of Ritson and McCook’s work. It assumes a compelling pathos that runs counter to the artisan techniques the two artists reference - stained glass and inlaid stone or wood. Perhaps forewarned, both Ritson and McCook have shifted from wax and plastic to paper and canvas. Sensibilities that informed their earlier working methods are transferred to these new media. Ritson’s paintings mimic the look of molten wax whilst exploring subtle spatialities that were limited with her previous technique. McCook’s charcoal drawings of aerial views of wooded landscapes draw on the map-like quality of his sectioned plastic panels, now enlivened with an abundance of naturalistic detail. And here arises an unexpected point of contact between these two artists. Both have turned to landscape as a subject, but from strikingly different paths. Ritson’s “chemical” terrains are adapted from images of microbiology, whilst McCook’s woods (as indeed is the patterning of his plastic panels) are formed from the shapes of words and phrases. Rather than depictions of actuality, I would designate these works as a form of self-portraiture, so closely are they aligned to aspects of their makers identities. 

I anticipate further insights to arise from this “forced encounter” over the next four weeks.


Michael Graf
Melbourne, April 2012



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