Guest post by Linda Edgerton.
The works being exhibited in Glenn Fry’s Urban Delusions are intricate in their crafting – and in their evolution. They form part of a unique ‘cultural identity’ called the Conceptual Delusion, devised and developed by ‘G-TWO’ over two decades.
Everything in Glenn Fry’s world has context and connections; he’s fascinated by how things can fit together to form a reality – or a delusion – that makes sense of life’s confusion. From the complex layering in his art, to creating his own culture that includes a written language and aesthetic branding, one thing builds upon another. It’s not at all surprising when Glenn creates a number of limited-edition original artworks for special invitations to his show, such is his attention to detail and to the experience he is constructing.
Opening at ETCH Gallery on 4 October and running until 25 October, Urban Delusions invites us to experience a parallel world: a place where lines and structure are perfected, but where imagination also soars. It is a world that reflects the layered precision of art on the streets.
I interviewed Glenn Fry about his artistic vision and the upcoming solo show at ETCH.
How long have you been creating your art?
I’ve been an artist since I started at the Gordon in 1993 at the age of 16. I’m always looking to interpret what I see in the world and to reinvent my art, but at the same time I can look back at my past works and recognise how they each feed into the next incarnation. My cultural identity continually evolves.
Can you tell us about your new exhibition Urban Delusions and its connection to street art?
As you walk through the streets and laneways of most urban centres you come to realise that the walls around you are living, breathing works of art. They’re ever evolving and changing, either by being painted over by other artists or from effects of the weather and the ravages of time. This transitional form of existence creates a beautiful aesthetic that I’ve used to create the works in Urban Delusions.
I see my works as delusional relics of urban street art culture. It’s an idealistic view of street art that ties in with ‘the Conceptual Delusion’, my own created culture that I’ve been developing over the past two decades.
Some aspects of this delusional culture include a written language and wallpaper designs based on characters in the language. It also includes glyphs and symbols, representations of pop culture icons and commercial advertisements such as Gremlins, Daleks and Coca Cola. This diverse imagery has been interwoven in multi-layered impressions of the urban art aesthetic.
In the Conceptual Delusion, the artist is not just the creator; my life is woven completely into the story and the theory of the art.
Glenn Fry, Delusional Urban Remnant-C6, mixed media on board, 2014. (Image courtesy the artist and ETCH Gallery.)
The Conceptual Delusion, G-TWO’s personal culture that drives his work and life. (Image courtesy the artist.)
What’s your creative process for these works?
Over the years I’ve used various mediums and techniques to mimic the look and feel of urban street art, including stencils, colour washes, sanding and paste ups.
With the works in this show, I started by creating a repeatable design on the computer which is based on the language I created for use in my work, then I turn the pattern in to a series of stencils which I cut by hand. Combining all the elements involved, the works take about two weeks after I have the stencils ready.
I strive for perfection, balance and difference. Even though the works are design based, the creating of the actual painting is improvised and of the moment. I feel they are organic, they have freed me up artistically.
Glenn Fry, Delusional Urban Remnant-C8, mixed media on board, 2014 (Image courtesy the artist and ETCH Gallery.)
In this exhibition you’re also showing a series of drawings from your 2013 project, When Gremlins Attack. Can you tell us about that project?
Last year I created 76 Gremlins-inspired works of art, which I distributed in a single day on the streets and laneways of both Melbourne and Geelong.
My use of the gremlins imagery was a comment on street artists and how they’re a lot like gremlins, adding a bit of colour and chaos to a grey urban landscape. All of the works were free for any passer-by to pick up and take home. I left some at tram stops, train stations, in laneways, outside shops and even placed some in and around the NGV Australia at Fed Square. A Facebook page to document the event enabled people who took a work to upload a photo of the gremlin in its new home.
I find numbers significant and was also inspired by the idea of giving away 76 artworks on my birthday (I was born in 1976). 2013 also happened to be the 70th anniversary of the book The Gremlins, written in 1943 by Roald Dahl, his first children’s book.
The opening of this new exhibition Urban Delusions will be exactly 12 months to the day since I unleashed the gremlins on mass in Melbourne and Geelong – and yes, on my birthday.
The new works follow directly on from the gremlins and how they were a comment on street artists, that in turn inspired me to create my own street art for my culture.
What does your part-time role as Artist-in-Residence at the One World for Children child care centre involve? What do you enjoy about this work?
I’m the go-to person when they need something created or they need a creative idea. We recently created a mural for the centre that features repeating wallpaper patterns incorporating drawings done by children at the centre. It was satisfying because it not only added life to the centre, but was exciting for the children seeing their art recreated on the wall.
Working with the children has helped me to push the boundaries in my recent work, especially when it comes to colour. When children create they do so with no preconceptions of how something should look, they naturally use abstraction as their form of expression. I love how children let their imagination run free – a lot like myself when I’m fully immersed in my art.
You’ve been involved in several community arts initiatives around Geelong. Can you tell us about some recent ones?
A highlight was the ‘Unhindered Abstraction’ charity auction and exhibition held in July this year. It raised over $4000 for Wombats Wish, who work with bereaved children in the Geelong region. The concept of this project was to create artworks inspired by children’s drawings (like I did for the mural at the child care centre). This time I had eight Geelong artists involved, each donating their time and talent to create artworks for the auction and exhibition held at the Shearer’s Arms Gallery.
I was also one of the artists who created a paste-up work on the wall alongside the Geelong Library building site. After months, the rain has finally started to wear them away.
You’re quite a film buff, particularly of sci fi. How has film influenced your art?
I like how sci fi pushes the boundaries of imagination, scientific exploration and technology, and this inspires me to push boundaries in my own culture.
What’s next for your art?
I see this work evolving, getting a lot more layered, and even getting larger. I would like to do some mural size pieces, and incorporate more pop culture iconography.
I also invited ETCH Gallery’s curator Bianca Brant to share her thoughts on Glenn’s work.
… Street art and graffiti provoke controversy. It is the artistic expression of our times so naturally people have strong opinions about it. Is it art or not? Melbourne laneways are now popular public art spaces. Geelong has also embraced this sub-culture and yet those stung by the frustrated tagging of a few bored teenagers might need persuading and G-TWO’s Urban Delusions exhibition will challenge that perception.
G-TWO is a local contemporary artist currently showing a strong body of new works at ETCH Gallery. Audiences will discover a series of complex and layered paintings filled with symbolism and personal iconography. Each work is a unique composition rich in a new artistic language of layered paint, detailed drawings and stencil images. They are pictures influenced by our urban environment; our town and suburbs, our culture and heritage. This remarkable art exhibition by G-TWO is where viewers can consider and explore an authentic grassroots art movement in the gallery environment of an artist-run space. All great art should exist for a time in a gallery setting, a place for contemplation, invigoration and the chance to buy what you love and admire …