Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It’s a grand narrative that plays out in the story Of Deceit


It’s a grand narrative that plays out in the story Of Deceit.  It’s one full of plot twists, white lies and half-truths. Concealing a face of good intentions and delusions.  Of Deceit is an exhibition yielding objects that offer a commentary on the wider discussion of contemporary art and the connotations of deceit.  We are treated to artworks that expand the creative muscle. They fill its capacity for deceit and run through a mass of narratives, representations, and histories.

Of Deceit is a lesson in story telling, and each artwork has a story or history to tell.  It’s a muddle of recollections and memories and unknown consequences.

This is not to relate to the deceit of forgery, fabrication, and misrepresentation: that is a distinction that is best suited to the likes of  Inganno – The Art of Deception, for a comprehensive study. 1

Deception I place as a moral quandary and is where I can find this already pre-loaded and malleable concept: taking hold of the audience’s perceptions and questions.  It is the capacity for deceit, and how art can be representative and really become entangled in a person’s experience of the work, is what pulls me in as a viewer.  We appreciate that an artwork has duality of meaning, for both artist and viewer.  An object for the artists may mean everything to them and nothing, or everything to the individual viewing the work as an outsider. 

We are presented with deceit as this otherworld, the other fiction that deals primarily with the community use of storytelling, the folklore, the superstition and the pantomime of deceit. Acting as a concoction of lies, and exaggerated truths is exposed by Mikala Dwyer’s masks from The Garden of Half-Life, from an exhibition of work that speaks to the pantomime of both history and futures to be told and exposed. 

In the narrative of deceit, I am reminded that artworks can be created by pure fiction, fantasy and by illusion.  I find myself questioning the intentions and story that is willingly being told, alluded to.  I am reminded of Metzger saying   ‘Boxes of deceit. Events happenings. Artists can not compete with reality. The increasing quantity of events, happenings. Artists cannot integrate within himself all the experience of the present. He cannot render it in painting and sculpture’. 

When I am physically present and engaged with a work, I am then forced to confront that I don’t necessarily agree that an artist cannot fully represent the history in their works; history is malleable, dependent on the storyteller, through false truths and half-truths.  Part of the story of contemporary art is that it is not just about the artists’ history in a work, or the narrative they expose or wish to tell.  It is to remind the viewer that they too can participate in this story through their own associated histories, create new fictions, and create their own faction of deceit. 

David Clarke’s series 50/50.  A deadly combination of materials distilled down to loaded teacups of pewter and lead.  Deadly to the naked touch and to participate with at your own peril, with a touching story as the teacups are representational of the last tea and medicine cup his mother used before her death.  ‘There are only 2 outcomes to any kind of situation.  Can you trust anything?’

We swing from a symbolic offering of a personal deceit, to an object that has become more than a vessel, but the very instrument of death. 

We go on a journey of illusions from Adrienne Gaha’s paintings, with embellished glazes, the magical lure of shadows and figures. Gaha retraces the story of Venus and Adonis of Tiziano Vecellio, recreating an alternative visual narrative, altering the story, by ‘myth making’.

The Unravelling and re-creating of myths and fictions offer a different face of deceit, it offers self-invention, it is the malleable truth, and Helen Johnson described perfectly of her work:

‘Painting is a fabric woven from deceits: of permanence, of representation, of originality, of space, of vitality. In this regard it is also a space where it is possible to think beyond the bounds of the factual, without yet slipping into the warm bath of fiction.’

Deceit lies between the solid and fluid, between fact and fiction.  It lies between the glaze and wash of a painting, between the abstract lines of faces and bodies.  It also lies in the magical and otherworldly.  Jonny Niesche’s Logicstick proudly stands, offering to me what seems like triumphant truths, a magical experience, a glitter bomb waiting to go off, and inevitably get in your eye.  The glitter blinds you, distracts you from it physicality, and encourages you to create a new narrative for its existence. Of Deceit stares you right in the eye and challenges you to a fucking fight.

Catriona Black-Dinham, Melbourne, November 2015

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1  Inganno – The Art of Deception, Immitation, Reception, and deceit in Early Modern Art, Edited by Sharon Gregory, St Francis Xavier University, Canada and Sally Anne Hickson, University of Guelph, Canada, 2012
Is not only a commentary of forgery, reproductions and misrepresentation, but also an analysis on the motivations, moral complications for artists and artworks and for me a larger commentary of modern art markets.
 2  Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings, Pg 403, para2, Gustav Metzger ‘Manifesto World’ (1962), in Metzger at 
AA {London: Destruction/Creation, 1965} By Kristine Stiles, Peter Howard Selz

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