Janet Burchill, Don Driver, Hilarie Mais, Robert Moreland and Nick Selenitsch

Palermo was thinking of Monk, I was thinking of J. P. Melville in a thicket

11 Nov – 16 Dec 2023

Thinking about words like “jazz” and “folk”, of how they sit alongside (on… in…) materiality, construction and concept, and how they colour the complexity of abstraction.

Thinking about similar yet differing versions, of what came before, of time and place, interests (obsessions) and knowledge — both mentally and physically acquired; of different movements and manifestations; of those who ordered a classic martini but with a twist as opposed to an olive — a deviating semblance.

From the birth of cool with its Beat infused brushstrokes, drips and pours, to the ice-cold starkness of minimalist forms, abstraction has taken up many guises — fedora and trench coat always at arm’s reach ready to conceal itself. It is a classic cocktail, but the deviations on a theme are rich and plentiful. Of particular note are the nuanced elements which come meaningfully into play: the artists hand, unexpected materials, abrupt text, a playful air, awkward combinations, tongue-in-cheek metaphors. These make up the richer developments of abstraction, while others rely on the loud deafening foot falls, which in many cases fall on deaf ears.

The underpinning of abstraction is for the most part decidedly ‘cool’: conceptually subversive, aesthetically captivating with an air of restraint, materially rich and composed of processes both performative and mechanical. Points you could say concern this idea of jazz, evoking not so much a definitive appearance, but an “ambience”. Equally so, the loose descriptor of folk is a way to talk to nuanced elements, to the “feel” of an object, highlighting the materials and its history, the presence of the hand and the overarching values of craftsmanship. With these words, jazz and folk, there comes an understanding beyond aesthetics and concepts, rather they offer descriptors tapped into emotions and presence.

Thinking about a deviating semblance, where the similar yet dis-similar is placed in a relatable context, a space (exhibition) to gather calmly in their dynamism. A space to trace these movements and manifestations, compare and contrast and champion where it went for the twist over the olive.

Janet Burchill appears courtesy of Neon Parc, Melbourne; Don Driver appears courtesy of Hamish McKay, Wellington; Hilarie Mais appears courtesy of Mais Wright, Sydney; and Nick Selenitsch appears courtesy of Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.