Linton Meagher. Pursuits: The MacNab
From the 21st to the 27th of October 2013 at Gallery 8, London.
COMODAA is pleased to announce “Linton Meagher – Pursuits: The MacNab”, an exhibition of new work by Sydneybased artist Linton Meagher running 21 – 27 October 2013 at Gallery 8, Duke Street St. James’. The exhibition will also include a showcase by emerging Australian artist Josh Robbins.
“Pursuits: The MacNab” continues Meagher’s observation of British cultural traditions and iconography, following on from the themes of his solo exhibition in London in 2012, but imposes a further pursuit – a broader scope of subject matter to encompass the ultimate “MacNab Challenge”, a term derived from the novel John Macnab, (John Buchan, 1925) and a chance to stalk a red deer stag, catch a salmon and shoot a brace of grouse within the space of 24 hours.
Removing objects from their everyday context, Meagher’s work challenges the viewer – through the creation of images at odds with the meaning of the objects themselves – to examine more closely the preconceptions around and origins of their work. Repellent objects such as shotgun cartridges, bullets, fish flies and hooks become objects of inherent beauty.
Meagher’s semi-sculptural works use resin to cast objects in clear perspex, creating the effect of objects suspended in space, creating a delicate play of light and shadow on the wall behind. By casting mass-produced items in resin, his work continues the exploration of consumerism, beauty, death and the impermanence of time. Earlier works demonstrating similar artistic concerns include works made from thousands of lipsticks, scalpel blades and still-ticking waterproof watches cast in resin.
In these playful and striking works, hundreds of shotgun cartridges and pellets, sourced from the UK, are cast in resin. But beyond mere aesthetic appeal, they force the viewer to reflect on the tradition of the hunt: its meaning in contemporary society and role in defining status. Are younger generations clinging tighter to tradition in the face of economic anxiety and rapid change? Meagher’s grouse and pheasant works are also a modern reflection on the practice of taxidermy.
“Taxidermists strive to cover up the means and act of death, traditionally portraying the pheasant at the height of its beauty. With the shotgun cartridge works, the viewer is initially seduced by the beauty of the multicoloured cartridges that glisten in the light. However, it is hard to look past the act of death implied by all the empty cartridges, especially since these are all spent cartridges and, on looking closely, the viewer can see how some of the cartridges are coloured by gunpowder and dirt from the field.” Linton Meagher
Similarly with Meagher’s trout and salmon works, the repetition of thousands of flies brings the form of the fish to life. However, the barely visible hooks belie the beauty of the flies, in the process reminding the viewer of the fate that may await the fish drawn in by the beauty and appeal of the fly.
“The individual trout and salmon flies are extraordinarily beautiful – they are individual works of art in their own right”. Linton Meagher
In-keeping with Meagher’s fascination with British mores, the proud mounting of stag antlers in traditional UK homes has been revisited in the artist’s new work, The Royal.
“The beauty of the animal is emphasized in the process of taxidermy, often leaving the viewer both in awe at the beauty of the animal, but also saddened at the death of such a creature”. Linton Meagher
By casting the same 0.243 bullet casings used to stalk the deer, the viewer is simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the shimmering beauty of the shells. The bullets themselves become a comment on the romanticism and fetishism of the gun throughout many veins of popular culture.
“Individually, these bullet casings are cold and repellent, but when hundreds are collectively arranged and cast in resin they become objects of beauty. The bullet casings shimmer like a sea of gold that lends these works a rich Rococo feel”. Linton Meagher
Linton Meagher’s work has received both critical acclaim and broad popularity worldwide, reaching far beyond the shores of his native Australia to global art hubs including London and Hong Kong, where he exhibited at ART HK.
Presenting a contrasting approach to Meagher’s repetition of manmade objects, the work of young Australian artist Josh Robbins is at once spontaneous and honest. Turning to birds, blossoms, and trees for his subjects – Robbins’ fascination is one with the inherent beauty of mark-making, a reflection of the inherent beauty in Australia’s native plants and creatures. Often painting on wood, the unique marks and knots embedded in his medium guide the processes used and the end result of each work. As he explains, “I like to use the wood as wood, and then build the rest of picture around that, adding birds, blossoms and other flowers as the whim of the picture dictates.” Robbins' creative vision centres firmly around the aesthetic; whether in 'the inherent beauty of a picture' or in the exploration of the beauty of distortion. Any resulting emotional resonance only enhances the work further.
Layered upon Robbin’s inspiration by nature, the graphic qualities and patterns within that nature have tended his work to Japanese art and the Japanese aesthetic. The wood block prints of Katsushika Hokusai, Ohara Koson, Utagawa Hiroshige – and the design of Fukuda – drew him to their simple and delicate strength and drove him to integrate wood, both as a surface and a geometric map, into his paintings.
In this exhibition, Robbins has employed a blind painting technique – not looking at the marks he is making but instead intuitively ‘feeling’ his way around a work. The resulting distortions have their own particular form of beauty.
“I find this process has an inherent honesty to it as it bypasses any need to be correct to the end representation of the subject. Once the drawing is done it's either used or it's discarded. There's no reworking or modifying it any way. It either is what it is or it's not.” Josh Robbins
“To just enjoy the way a line runs. How it undulates. How a brush stroke turns. How colours like or dislike each other. The beauty of distortion. The bravery of a single brash stroke. Or the accumulation of many. I think there is simplicity, beauty, bravery and depth in exposing all that you are, all of the time.”
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