Paint may be considered an old fashioned medium these days but for me, nothing can beat a good painting that intrigues, inspires and moves me and demands closer inspection or later reflection. A fine exhibition of paintings, Time and Place, is currently showing at Metropolis Gallery by four artists, Ben Davis, Michael Gromm, Steve Singline and Phil Suter and is well worth a look if you can get there before the weekend. If fascinates me how differently the application of paint is expressed by the artists yet they are united by the common theme of time and place – places both real and imagined, places of the past, present and future.
Phil Suter, The Mill of Mystery, Acrylic & mixed media on Belgian linen, 76 x 101.5cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
Phil Suter’s precise and meticulous paintings of iconic buildings and streetscapes around Geelong verge on the surreal and his strong use of complementary colours almost bowl the viewer over. The retro buildings are celebrated in glorious detail such as The Mill of Mystery, an historic 1920s art deco textile mill (recently reopened as the Little Creatures Brewery) and Rendezvous at Burnham Flats, a classic art deco building on Latrobe Terrace.
Michael Gromm, yplcyfmzttrclarityegrytuyt, Oil & polymer on canvas, 107 x 134cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
Surrealism is taken to a new level in the process-driven work of Michael Gromm where time and space get lost in a seemingly random assortment of contrasting shapes, lines and striped patterns. The figurative and the abstract collide in a mash up of control and chaos where opposites are held in fine balance.
Ben Davis paints in a fluid gentle style, depicting imagined and half-remembered places that serve as a backdrop for unfolding narratives. He employs an aerial view in many of his paintings giving a cinematic feeling for the viewer, as though we are watching a movie. Ben creates compositions from sketches, internet images and memories so that the places depicted are familiar but not exact.
Steve Singline’s series of paintings The Signs of Life, are textured and multi-layered, sanded back to reveal what is underneath or to convey a weathered surface that has been marked by the elements, a reference to the transitory nature of life. He uses text to explore the relationship between feelings and place, choosing words that have an emotional resonance.
The exhibition evoked memories and feelings about particular places for me as I pondered the intersection between time and place. A place can be defined by its physical characteristics, as so carefully observed in the paintings of Phil Suter and a place can be described by the events that occur there as seen in the cinematic viewpoint of Ben Davis. Maybe a place is simply a construct of the mind and what we think of as ‘reality’ is simply an illusion which Michael Gromm’s work suggested to me. Or perhaps a place can be identified by the feelings and memories that we hold about it as described in the pared back paintings of Steve Singline. And all places are marked by time.
This is why I love art – it can can trigger new thoughts and ideas and offer a fresh perspective.