The first exhibition to kick off the year at Oxide Contemporary Art introduces an eclectic collection of art: mixed media works by Glen Smith and Glenn Fry, who first met nearly 20 years ago at art school, and lively, expressive oil paintings by Kerry Russell who has been a resident artist at Oxide for several months. The three artists have distinctly different styles yet the works combine well in a happily haphazard kind of way.
It is unusual to find Glen Smith’s work in a gallery setting. Normally he operates outside the gallery system, preferring to focus on street art and other non-elitist art forms such as zines, badges, stickers and T-shirts. Although he is based in Geelong (where he teaches and is involved in local art organisations and community art projects) he creates most of his street art in Melbourne which has a thriving street art scene. “Geelong has a fairly shallow view on street art so I tend to find more opportunities in Melbourne,” Smith explains. “Most of the street-based work I do is in Melbourne, in permit or tolerance zones. Basically I keep it legal.”
In this exhibition, Smith is showing some of his mixed media works which are inspired by both street art and the urban environment. “Within my art practice I try to question or subvert what is accepted as social norms and challenge the viewer to question their values and those of society in general,” he says. With a grubby, stencil aesthetic, his work is often injected with social commentary about political and environmental issues, and he uses humour and ironic juxtapositions to convey his ideas. Sometimes, if the meaning of his work is obscure, he will use the title of his artwork to give clues, such as in his anti-war piece Stealth (there is a difference between child’s play and playing childishly), referencing the immaturity of certain governments.
You can find out more about Glen Smith’s work on his blog No Frills Art.
Stealth (There is a difference between child’s play and playing childishly), Glen Smith. (Image courtesy of the artist.)
Running alongside Smith’s works, Glenn Fry’s artworks are an adventure into another world or culture. “My art is as convoluted and confusing as life,” Fry says. “I started creating a personal way of looking at and thinking about the world; what I call the conceptual delusion.”
His three-dimensional, futuristic abstracts are reminiscent not only of infra-red military technology and cartography, but also galaxies and constellations of the universe. Hard geometric shapes contrast with flowing organic constructions. According to Fry, these map-like patterns symbolise the inner workings of the mind. Some of the imagery has been inspired by the film π and mathematical theories such as the Fibonacci sequence upon which many patterns in nature are based. Fry also has an interest in the mystical aspects of life and he includes perplexing magical glyphs and symbols in his work.
You can view more of Glenn Fry’s work at http://www.redbubble.com/people/g-two
After Fry’s stratospheric works, Kerry Russell’s paintings inhabit a more earthly plane. Russell paints the urban development and natural environment of the Geelong region. After living in a natural setting in Apollo Bay for 17 years she recently moved to Geelong and became interested in the burgeoning housing estates around Highton. Last year she had a solo exhibition, Outer Observations, at the Geelong Gallery where she explored different aspects of urban growth and industry around Geelong. She has also become interested in the notion of consumption and how we dispose of ‘stuff’.
Russell paints alla prima in a direct, expressive way whereby she finishes a painting in one session. Her paintings exude freshness and spontaneity. Now she is exploring plein air painting which is a new way of working for her since she usually paints from photos and drawings. “I don’t like to muck about with the painting too much,” she says. “That’s probably why I am drawn to plein air. I just want to do the painting in a day. I’d prefer to start again rather than paint over things.”
You can view more of Kerry Russell’s work at www.kerryrussell.com
This diverse exhibition runs until 10 March 2011, 3.15pm – 6.15pm Monday to Thursday, or by appointment, at Oxide Contemporary Arts, 3 McLarty Place, Geelong.
Exhibition Submissions Now Being Accepted
Located in the arts precinct of Geelong, Oxide is an artist-run gallery space and art school. With the gallery space available for exhibitions and other arts-related activities, Oxide is currently accepting submissions for 2011. If you would like more details contact Susan Hayward on 0422 527 302 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.