Looking back at 2018…
I know, I know, where did the year go?
It feels like it was only yesterday that we were starting back in the gallery to kick this year off, and now with Christmas one week away and the New Year soon to follow, we are again at the end of a momentous year and wondering where did all the time go?
Naturally it gives us a chance to reflect on 2018 and look forward to the year ahead.
After a number of weeks with a mixed hang, we formally started 2018 off with a solo show of Anthony Bennett’s new works – presenting a laser like focus on the historical titan of late 19thcentury painting, Vincent Van Gogh. The show was well received – particularly amongst the seasoned collectors. Rarely before has Anthony demonstrated his skill with both paint and resin on one subject so fiercely. It became referred to in-house as the room of giants – large format canvases showcasing Vincent in various forms of painterly abstraction, a commentary on a public figure and the reflective force of what it means to be a painter in 2018.
We flowed then into ‘The Dream in Between’ and ‘Out of Line’ back to back in March and April. These two exhibitions allowed the three artists included to stretch their reach in directions we hadn’t previously seen. Whilst exploring familiar themes of gender and balance Hayden Jackson moved his works in manner of control, where elements of looseness had previously resided, Hayden controlled his palette and paint to allow a sense of stillness. These unique constructs were bounced directly off Jacob Spokes dream like landscape abstractions – Eruptions of colours not constrained at all. “Out of Line” provided a yin and yang curatorial experience with the gallery split down the middle almost as if abstraction itself had been split and halved into counteracting consciousness’s.
As the days shortened into May, Gallery Manager Ashanti Fogden was charged with curating a show of Interior works, what resulted was ‘The Radical Familiar’. Ashanti hand selected works by Eytan Messiah, Anna May Henry, Shanti Shea-An, Jordy Kerwick and Thomas John Whelan. A diverse group of painters who presented their view of an interior world. Curatorially the show was knock out, the opening was a huge night and the show to follow was equally well received. With works by all of the 5 artists finding homes both here in Sydney and interstate.
June was the month of Maximilian Daniels, not only did every work included in ‘A Shadow on the Glass” sell but it marked the third consecutive solo show of Maximillian’s works at Piermarq to sell out. In the space of 4 short years since his graduation at COFA, Max continues to challenge himself and the viewer with work morphing from narrative abstraction, through conceptual process focused work to colourfield canvases. 2018 will go down as a breakthrough year for this young painter. Whilst still early in his brief career, works have swiftly found their way into collections of merit domestically and opportunities are knocking abroad. One can not accurately attempt to describe in full detail the effect Max’s recent works. An interplay of light into, onto, reflected by the environment, distilled on canvas is a magical phenomenon.
Install shot: Maximilian Daniels – A Shadow on the Glass Image: Docqment
As July rolled around, Craig Handley again delivered. Craig again received the praises of critics and judges with the list of inclusions in significant art prizes continuing to roll down his CV. As a finalist in the Wynne Prize again in 2018, Craig is the most locally acclaimed artist at Piermarq. Craig’s exhibition ‘EXITS’ was eloquently prefaced by notable playwright Louis Nowra, there is nothing I could say that could outweigh Louis’ writing. Craig is a delight to exhibit and work alongside, the work screams at high octave of his immense talent as a painter.
Craig Handley, Funny Hahas and Bloody Gallahs – Wynne Prize finalist, 2018
New work from the mind of Andrew Hagar then not so subtly occupied the gallery. Andrew’s figure paintings have rarely been seen and it was a challenging but thrilling exhibition to present. The scent of oil paint that filled the room throughout the fortnight only added fuel to a title of ‘The Whiff of The Chequered Parlour’. When consumed across hours, these are some of the most arresting works we have shown in our now 6 and a half year history. A challenge to the audience, on first glance Andrew’s paintings barter between the viewer, you have to give a bit of you to get a piece of the work back. Eerily enticing!
In ‘Building on Ruins’, Gene A’hern celebrated September with a more experienced body of work following his sold out 2017 show. AMAZING, a hot emerging talent who continues to impress both us here at the gallery and his growing list of collectors. High-key spray metered out against oilstick and enamel, Gene started to include collage this year and it only served to strengthen his aesthetic and resolve. We can wait to see how Gene takes his work forward as he now endevours to take on painting full time.
Install shot: Gene A’Hern – Building on Ruins. Image: Docqment
Sydney Contemporary Art Fair marked the start of Spring for both the weather and the art market. Our first Australian art fair was an unbridled success. It allowed us to not only build further on Maximilian Daniels success, but also present a new body of colour change works from our Chinese-Dutch sensation Zhuang Hong-Yi. Everywhere collectors can find Zhuang’s works from London to New York from Hong Kong to Shanghai – he is a sublime standout. In the 3 years we have been representing Zhuang’s works in Australia, nothing has grabbed immediate attention like it. With a forum allowing 20,000 sets of eyeballs to see Zhuang at his best, the booth was full – consistently throughout the 4 days. The walls presented Max, Zhuang against the floorspace occupied by Morgan Shimeld, his scultpures bounced off the walls in harmony.
The high times continued to roll – we had two consecutive sell out shows of new works. Firstly, in early October with the Sound Portraits of Welsh painter JP Jones. From a successful 20 years in the music industry, this one time art school graduate had always maintained a firm fix on his brushes. In the past 5 years, his paintings have discovered a signature form of image making, taking the individual sound signature of any original musical score and allowing it to form the genesis point on which his visual interpretation of the song can be built. Some 18 pictures were included in the catalogue, a resolute success for JP – a thrill to behold.
It was in similar fashion that an exciting catalogue of new works came to us from Jordy Kerwick’s Melbourne studio, his initial entre to Piermarq was in “The Radical Familiar” with his still life. The solo show ‘OUTRO’ was a mix of both smaller still-life works and a broad array of abstract from 75x60cm up to museum scale 180x160cm paintings of collage, acrylic and thick oils. This show and the windows stopped traffic, literally on one occasion, with one collector double-parking to run in and purchase the piece in the front window! Each work found its forever home. This success has rolled into two further exhibitions abroad, one with his London gallery and then a Paris show. Jordy has swiftly become one of the hottest emerging artists on the scene and his global network of galleries will only serve to push this further in 2019, his next solo at Piermarq is already slated for early 2020.
Install shot: Jordy Kerwick – Outro. Image: Docqment
The final exhibition of the year remains on the wall today after an extended run. Paul Rousso is an American mid career sculptor known in the US and in Europe for his large expansive moulded wall sculptures. They are part-pop, part-conceptual evolutions and we are going to give them further air toward January 2019, given the response we have had from the passing audience. This exhibition highlights the trajectory for the gallery into 2019 and the growing international flavor of artists and shows.
2019 is all lined up and we are excited…
Rob Russell, Director, PIERMARQ*