Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sight Undone - Jude Rae

“These are the most elusive of matters: perception, consciousness, the nature
of being, how to sustain an awareness of what it is to be present to oneself.”

“A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in
front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing.”

“[T]he work - the work of art, the literary work - is neither finished nor unfinished:
it is. What it says is exclusively this: that it is - and nothing more. Beyond that
it is nothing. Whoever wants to make it express more finds nothing, finds that
it expresses nothing. He whose life depends upon the work, either because
he is a writer or because he is a reader, belongs to the solitude of that which
expresses nothing except the word being: the word which language shelters by
hiding it, or causes to appear when language itself disappears into the silent
void of the work.” 1
Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature

“My painting demonstrates nothing. Instead it gives space to aroused
perception. We are much too inclined to order seeing as a thought
process instead of appropriating it bodily.”
“The way I make something gives me a close relationship to the world…
Sometimes I think that I wouldn’t even be here without this experience.” 2
Günter Umberg, Bilderhaus Schatternraum


I have a life drawing made when I was a student some 40 years ago. The sight 
of it prompts in me the memory of where I stood in the life room, next to whom,
the open window at my back, the light, the air temperature and time of year.
It is a recollection of awareness that has its place as much in the body as in
the mind.

The task of writing about painting is not one to be taken lightly. To do it
justice requires something of the relentless rigor that Maurice Blanchot
demands of literature – “Defiance of language, situated in language,
which finds in itself the terms of its own critique” 3. Blanchot explores the
limits of literature, the paradox of language approaching that experience
of being which resists the form of language itself. Thus it is the province
of painting to prompt an awareness within the beholder of that aspect of
experience that does not exist as thought, that pre-exists thought. Painting
does not explain or even represent this mystery, indeed it works in
defiance of representation because it is, as Blanchot says, itself and
nothing more. It simply reminds us.

This aspiration, the elusive nature of it, is what I recognize and admire
in the work of Günter Umberg. Black Sun, Jan Thorn-Prikker’s interview
with Günter Umberg, 4 is an extraordinary document. Seldom have I come
across writing which approaches the essence of painting so completely,
from the nature of the physical object, the process of making and the
connection of making to viewing, and the way it relates to the history of
painting and the philosophy that it both informs and articulates. This
rarity is not surprising. These are the most elusive of matters: perception,
consciousness, the nature of being, how to sustain an awareness of what
it is to be present to oneself.

It may seem odd that a maker of images draws inspiration from this
most rigorous of non-figurative painters, but only if you see painting as a
kind of information or, more succinctly, if you are inclined to “order seeing
as a thought process” 5. The paintings I make aspire to something
more than image, something which might be understood as existing in
the relationship a painting creates with a viewer. As is evident in the Umberg
interview, this relationship has its foundations in very particular cultural
associations and traditions, but it is not restricted to one culture or
time. Beyond these structures the connection is primarily one of feeling,
or more specifically it is a connection between seeing and feeling.
I do not here mean emotion (although emotions can be involved) but
refer rather to an apprehension of the world, which is oriented towards
the senses: something that is as much felt through the body as it is

Such a connection is not so much complex as incomprehensible.
This is a particularly elusive notion when it comes to painting because
it is never entirely clear what is being painted. Unlike photographs,
paintings are images that declare a certain materiality. Painting presents
us with, on the one hand, an image or illusion, and on the other, its own
physical or material presence as object. This structural ambiguity,
the play of illusion and materiality, became increasingly important
with the development of photography but in truth it has always been
one of the fascinations of great painting. Even the most finely worked
painting bears the trace of its material construction. Pigment sits on ground,
evident as smears and grains, lumps and puddles, no matter how
minutely it has been applied, and at some level we see the feel of it.

In the light of this ambiguity the distinction between abstraction and
representation is diminished. Giorgio Morandi’s remark, that “nothing is
more abstract than reality” carries a sly undertow. An inveterate admirer
of Cézanne, this stoically figurative painter who was making small still
life paintings in the 50s at the height of Abstract Expressionism, took
evident pleasure in breaking every trick in the illusionist’s book. These
small quiet canvasses, where the traces of his carefully insouciant brush
never let us forget the painter, demonstrate that nothing is more abstract
than painting. It should be noted however, that Morandi’s little jokes with
illusionism - spatial ambiguities, false attachments etc – are made in the
context of extraordinarily acute observation. Just as Cézanne went to
great lengths to analyse and convey his “sensations”, Morandi’s paintings
are marked by his close attention to the conditions of their genesis:
his experience of subject and conditions (light, form etc.) in the context
of painting (touch, materials, history etc.).

We assume so much about seeing and the visual world. Priorities
dictate that generally we are not conscious of certain visual specificities
- the fall of light on objects and the configurations they
make in the world we inhabit - even though these details constitute
the very fabric of our being.

Our sense of sight is geared to a kind of shorthand of vision which
functions as a generalising radar, filtering extraneous information,
allowing us to get about, get things done. The effectiveness of
this shorthand has given sight its primacy among our senses, and
aligned visibility with certainty. Seeing is believing as the old saying
goes but, as anyone who has taught or studied observation
based drawing will have found, the reverse also applies: we see
what we expect to see.

Painting can interrupt and throw into doubt the assumptions that
accompany what might be considered normal vision. It recalls to
us a sense of the look of things, and reconstitutes the integrity
of visual experience, providing an echo of the complexities and
strangeness we edit out of daily life, the flesh and bones of the
visual world that we ignore of necessity. In both the making and
contemplating of paintings, the conventions or habits that allow
normal seeing can be subtly disrupted, the path of sight retraced,
and vision itself is slowed, questioned, revised. In this sense
painting might be thought of as the “undoing” of sight.

Jude Rae 2011

1. Blanchot, M., & Smock, A., The Space of Literature,
University of Nebraska Press, 1989 p. 22
2. Baumstark, B., & Strauss, D. Bilderhaus Schattenraum,
Zurich JRP Ringier Kunstverlag 2000 p.91
3. Smock, A., The Writing of the Disaster, Maurice Blanchot
Editions Gallimard 1980, University of Nebraska 1986 p.vii
4. Thorn-Prikker, J., “Black Sun – A Conversation about the Art of Painting a Black
Picture.” In Baumstark, B., & Strauss, D. Günter Umberg Bilderhaus Schattenraum.
5.Baumstark, B., & Strauss, D. Günter Umberg Bilderhaus Schattenraum, p.91


I first met Jude Rae in Christchurch in 1989 soon after her arrival on
what we all understood to be the stable alluvial plains of Canterbury
in the South Island of New Zealand. Christchurch has long been
viewed as the most “English” of the colonial towns that marked the
expanding edges of the British Empire in the 19th century.

Structured along a strict orthogonal grid the roads radiated logically
out onto the level footprint of the plains until the South/North axis
of Colombo Street rose at its southern flank to climb the Port Hills.
With neither Auckland’s volcanos nor Wellington’s obvious fault-line,
Christchurch’s apparently benign geology was an easy surface on
which to build this model Commonwealth settlement. It’s physical
order is matched by a sense of social structure that causes it to
occasionally be the target of light-hearted and not so welcome

Since then Jude has returned to Australia via periods in Hong Kong
and Paris and the alluvial plains of Christchurch have been shaken
and liquified in the most interminable and upsetting way for its
residents. Much of what we take for granted has been shown to
have been built on unstable ground. The lives of old friends and
colleagues have changed forever.

During her time in Christchurch Jude shifted from painting large,
compressed and metaphorically loaded drapery paintings to
considerably smaller and more discreet Still Life paintings.
Single objects, sometimes clusters of idiosyncratic but plain vessels
comprised this new attention. For Rae taking on the genre of Still
Life was never motivated by a retreat to the security and perceived
stability of paintings’ most modest genre. Rather it would provide a
considered framework - a laboratory to conduct a slow enquiry into
the instability of vision, the uneven circularity of memory and the
shallow architecture of a painted place.

Even within the measurable parameters of the picture plane, Rae
reminds us that the familiar visual co-odinates in which we trust
are in flux. The very surfaces that seem to hold these considered
arrangements seem on closer inspection to be little more than a
watery meniscus.

Critically, it is the quiver, the vibrato of edges, not assurity of line
that establishes the visual integrity of the paintings. There is an optical
judder when objects touch or shuffle in front of each other - the
complexity of shadows further evidence a shifting lightsource.

These works represent an accretion of visual data and time that is
peculiar to painting. This conflation of time and image requires a
processing beyond the immediacy and confines of the retina.

In her new body of work Rae includes a brace of new Still Life
paintings, mindful as always of the tradition of Still Life and yet
more than ever these works step around the loaded sentimentality
and dry approach to technique that beset the genre. Rae’s
approach to the objects is not so much dispassionate as neutral.
She is rightly wary of the cul-de-sac of narrative, resisting its appeal
for those who would rather trust in a story than an object.

Thus Jude Rae’s paintings achieve a subtle but vital balance between
their existence as image and as material object. This quality
has also found expression in a new series of large architecturally
referenced paintings. These “Interiors”, mostly public spaces, have
attracted her in recent years. Airport terminals feature in particular,
perhaps as she has traveled a great deal. The anonymity of
these spaces is claimed as yet another laboratory for her concerns
- different in subject matter but related in their neutrality and ambiguities.
Under examination the material culture of the buildings
themselves manifest the very precariousness of form and image
that attracts her.

The apparent emptiness of these interiors, the interaction of
reflection and transparency, the layering of space within space, and
the low key counterpoint of image and paint extends Rae’s interest
in the instability of vision - something that we as viewers accept
without question in daily routine.

Andrew Jensen 2011

Previously Published by Jawpress © 2011

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Installation Images _ Jude Rae_ Sept 12

HEATHROW T5 (#247), 2009
2400 X 1800 MM

SL 312, 2013
865 X 965 MM

SL 301, 2012
1104 X 1104 MM
SLV 1/2/3 {SLV 2 still}
SLV 1 Duration 8.27 minutes. 
SLV 2 Duration 8.29 minutes. 
SLV 3 Duration 10.13 minutes

SL 309, 2013
1125 X 1375 MM

Friday, August 16, 2013

AMAK:-W Installation Images

(detail) Brad Gunn
Polymer clay, Acrylic, mixed media
200cm x 200cm x 170cm

(detail)Douglas McManus
Digital print on film
500 x 150cm
(detail) Douglas MacManus 
BOTANICA SYNTHETIQUE 2013 [concept piece]
Acanthus leaf vest and dinner jacket with leather flocked merkin
digital transfer and laser engraved and cut microfibre, silk organza
100 x 50cm 
Installation View 
Vincent Keith (on wall)
Digital print on photo gloss paper [artist proof] edition 10
60 x 60cm
Douglas MacManus 
BOTANICA SYNTHETIQUE 2013 (foreground)
Vincent Keith (detail)
Digital print on photo gloss paper [artist proof] edition 10
60 x 60cm
Harald Ligtvoet 
Digital print , laser cut perspex & cardboard, found table, and ornaments, polyester flowers.
Dimensions variable
Fabricated and installed by Douglas McManus
EtAlors?Magazine Issue 6
Digital print on heavy weight gloss photo paper
Dimensions  variable
Installation View 
(Detail) Timo Rissanen (foreground)
R.I.P. (rest in porn)2013
Dror Barak, death from suicide on February 23, 2012, aged 38
Arpad Miklos, death from suicide on February 3, 2013, aged 45
Wilfried Knight, death from suicide on March 5, 2013, aged 38
100% cotton T shirt, embroidered with cotton thread  and binding
60 x 45 x 30cm
George Plionis (rear)
Concept brooches
Printed photo gloss paper, matchboxes
100 x 100cm
(detail) George Plionis
Concept brooches
Printed photo gloss paper, matchboxes
100 x 100cm
 Douglas McManus enjoying the work by 
Chocolate, doughnuts, latex
Dimensions variable

all men are kunst:- walter

all men are kunst:- 
Supervision by Douglas McManus

Douglas McManus is one of Australia’s leading exponents of digital technologies for textiles. As an artist/designer he uses large format digital print on textiles combined with other high end technologies to create installation & sculptural based works. He researchs new textile and ink technologies to apply to conceptual and commercial projects around ideas of male physicality, hair, fur, and road kill.
Represented in major Australian galleries and museums

Et Alors? Magazine is the first glossy Gay, Drag & Genderbending style magazine with a cultural approach on diversity, created and independently published by Fleur Pierets and her drag king wife Julian P. Boom. Photogaphy: EJ Falconer 
Styling : Harald Ligtvoet 
Mua: Louise van,Huisstede 
Models: Wim Soete & Harald Ligtvoet 
Cake :Sweety Darling

Haralds Dream Wall 
Photographyy: Leisje Reyskens
Cake: Sweety darling

Douglas McManus would like to thank Zephyr Marama for pattern making/ constructing the dinner jacket silk organza shell

Chocolate, doughnuts, latex

Photo spread of fashion shoot
Et Alors? Magazine is the first glossy Gay, Drag & Gender Bending style magazine with a cultural approach on diversity, created and independently published by Fleur Pierets and her drag king wife Julian P. Boom. Home based in Antwerp and Amsterdam but travelling the world to give you a devastatingly positive, female pink shaded view on the LGBT creative scene.
They publish interviews with artists, musicians, designers and photographers who are just that tiny bit more edgy,who excel in variousness. Et Alors? Magazine fills the gap between a cultural publication, a trendy style magazine and a humanitarian mission. Fleur & Julian make a number of social controversial issues in terms of sexual orientation discussable, putting together their own perfect and unique mix, sprinkled a cultural coating on top and labelled it Et Alors? French for: So What?

Polymer clay, Acrylic, mixed media
200cm x 200cm x 170cm

 The Major General has chosen a formal outfit for the exhibition ‘All Men Are Kunst’.  Draped in a poly-carbon extract from the Celestial City of Phlebas and sewn exclusively by the House of Corrino, the gown took fourteen moon cycles, eighty eight Idirans and a mountain of Melange to complete. The jewellery is on loan from the Rama collection and is made from 268 carat Chelgrian gold.  Make-up, hair and styling by HAL 9000.

Digital print on photo gloss paper [artist proof] edition 10
60cm by 60cm

The act of taking a photograph freezes and instant in time. An expression or movement is captured as it existed in that single moment. We do not see the moment before or after. We do not see how the gesture evolves. 

As a photographer, however, I am looking at constantly shifting and moving live images. My subject is never completely still throughout a shoot. I see him from many angles and observe his movements and expressions. Taken together, they reflect the character of the man I am photographing, but the photograph is only a tiny slice of what I see.

In Polarities, I selected images taken of the same model and superimposed them upon one another. These photo montages are not double exposures. They are unique moments combined to create an extended moment in time. They show multiple facets. But they are imperfect. I am forced to blur the lines. That is the compromise that has to be made - by seeing more, we see less clearly.


Harald Ligtvoet’s world of kitsch explodes in a riot of beary queer visual dream states and fashion markers. A seemingly random collection of visual kink, furr, hunting lodge motif, suburban mayhem and confectionery is in fact a highly controlled piss take on society and our own subcultures. The melding of high camp with hyper masculine elements however results in a precise narrative that being a dreamer is indeed a reality.
Harald and his partner Wim, have been the ongoing subjects of the photographers lens, in scenes styled by Harald and presented here in a collage and styling by Douglas McManus.


Digital print on film
500 x 150cm
BOTANICA SYNTHETIQUE 2013 [concept piece]
Acanthus leaf vest and dinner jacket with leather flocked merkin
Digital transfer and laser engraved and cut microfibre, silk organza
100 x 50cm 

Last stand of the Ursine clan  Elizabeth town Tasmania comments on the relationships of the gathering of groups of men. The masculine pursuit of physicality and sex is always prevalent in these spaces whether in the context of straight male competitiveness or a gay male desire for hyper masculinity. This work takes you for a romp through a battle of zombie gimps versus men and beasts.  RPG’s , gothic landscape, couture,and  brooding sexuality collide in visually stylized grunge in this grand story telling

100 x100cm
Concept brooches
pirnted photo gloss paper, matchboxes

Dark, brooding ones; blond, pure ones (hardly); flaming red ones; and shaved smooth ones......this work looks to a quintessential Australian design to celebrate all men and to ask the question, which man would you light fire for?

R.I.P. (rest in porn)
Dror Barak, death from suicide on February 23, 2012, aged 38
Arpad Miklos, death from suicide on February 3, 2013, aged 45
Wilfried Knight, death from suicide on March 5, 2013, aged 38

I did not know Wilfried, Arpad or Dror, but I know what each one looked during sex. I’ve scanned through their Twitter profiles and furtively read through every article I could find to try to understand their suicides but of course it is in vain. Even a close friend’s suicide left me wondering, and I had years of conversations with him to draw from and to fester in. What understanding then is it possible to gain from blogs dedicated to porn, with anonymous comments berating the dead men with all-too-simple cause and effect explanations of their deaths? At the same time, endless tumblr accounts post and repost images of the three hirsute gods having sex, mostly with no acknowledgment of their deaths. The mental image of countless men around the globe wanking to images of dead men fucking stays with me. Immortal hard-ons and cum shots for all eternity.

It is difficult to work on a piece focusing on three men who worked in gay porn because it is difficult to admit publicly that I know these three men from porn – that I am a consumer of porn. Having a public image as an academic does not fit with this. Even if one consumes porn, admitting so publicly is a taboo. And of course this contribution to this exhibition could seem like a disingenuous attempt to legitimise my porn consumption through art and quasi-academic pondering. Yet it would be inauthentic for me not to deal with something that keeps haunting me. The deaths of these men by suicide urge me to speak though I did not know them. It is important for me to acknowledge these men as more than their perfect physical manifestations, as more than images, as men with the same fears, hopes and dreams that we all have, as vulnerable human beings. Dror, Arpad and Wilfried, we remember you.

All monies from sales of t shirts goes to the Pinnacle Foundation, assisting gay,lesbian, bisexual, transexual, intersex and queer youth who are disadvantaged.