Who needs to go to Gertrude St when it’s all happening right here in Geelong? One of Geelong’s most exciting contemporary art exhibitions is now showing at The Gordon Basement Studios. 8 Degrees is a group exhibition by eight graduating students of The Gordon’s Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) degree showcasing over 100 works in painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, video and photography.
8 Degrees offers a unique opportunity to see what Geelong’s emerging artists are creating. The exhibiting artists are Marjorie Anderson, Colm Connolly, Chloe Francis, Steve Singline, Danuta Karski, Ricky Munro, Sandra Snow and Elle Williams. There is a diverse body of work on show and it is a credit not just to the artists, but also to the teachers who have fostered the student’s artistic development.
Danuta Karski’s outstanding bronze sculptures have such an inviting tactile surface that it’s hard to resist touching them. Fired in an open fire, the sculptures have a rich patina and are beautifully constructed and rendered. Karski says shes blends elements from classical and contemporary sculpture, aimed at creating singular, meaningful objects. Through her work she explores human psychology – the conscious impulses and unconscious drives – and an individual’s place in society. “My work frequently seems to evoke a sense of the isolation and solitude of the human being, either psychological or physical, experienced in modern society,” says Karski. Her sculptures challenge us to look beyond the obvious to see what depths are hidden. For example, Reductio ad absurdum (Self-inflicted predicament) is a sculpture of two rowers in a boat but as you look at it more closely you realise that the rowers are rowing in opposite directions, a self defeating activity.
Danuta Karski with her wax sculpture All Things We Feel To Be Agreeable Clash With Those We Deem Unpleasant (A Matter of Choice).
Steve Singline’s 61 atmospheric paintings dominate an entire wall. He explores the relationship between human experience and the natural environment with much of the work conveying the landscape as imagined. The subdued palette and the softened rendering of sweeping vistas induce contemplation. These gentle paintings find their beauty in moody mists and the muted changing light of dusk and dawn. All the works in this series are titled collectively Within a Moment.
Elle Williams’ large charcoal and pastel drawings, The Radium Girls and Poison Pinups, are confronting. In this series of works she explores mortality and the exploitation of women. Her drawings, in the style of 1950s pin-ups girls, depict beautiful women except they have disturbing deformities and rotting flesh. An ominous lurid green substance leaks over their skin. All the women are missing eyes which gives an unsettling effect. It’s as though we are viewing a mask, a mannequin or an empty vessel. Williams’ works reference a damning example of corporate exploitation. In 1917, The US Radium Corporation opened a large factory in New Jersey to produce glow-in-the-dark watches. The girls who worked there had no protection from the glowing paint and several died from radiation exposure. The US government is still cleaning up the contaminated area, the cost of which is estimated at $144 million.
8 Degrees runs from 19 November to 9 December in The Gordon’s Basement Studios,
C Building (enter off Gordon Ave). Open weekdays 10.30am to 5pm.