30th August – 20th October 2012
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Callum Morton’s work has often recalled specific histories, both personal and collective. For the Venice Biennale in 2007 Morton constructed Valhalla, a scaled-down version of the family home designed by his father; Gas and Fuel, 2002, similarly miniaturised and animated those twin Melbourne city buildings which first heralded then hindered notions of urban progress; his ongoing series of Tomorrow Land and Local +/- General prints graft contemporary retail and entertainment brands onto the protected icons of Modernist architecture.
In ‘Evacuations’, Morton looks to a more recent and site-specific history: that of the gallery space in which these new works are presented. Five of these six sculptures are modelled after a recent exhibition of paintings he saw in the gallery. The visual and personal content of those paintings has, however, been removed from the equation. Representation, image and detail have been evacuated. Re-presenting the previous exhibition as ‘covered’ canvases, Morton instead gestures toward a larger narrative than those depicted on discrete canvases.
Built from foam, resin, lacquer, paint and wood, the works in Evacuations are not paintings, nor are they cast sculptures of paintings. They are painted sculptures of covered paintings, constructed in turn by Computer Numerically Controlled router and by hand, layer by layer. Similarly to the paintings they have usurped, the Cover Up works are formed through a dense layering of materials, applied and cut repeatedly until the desired likeness appears.
Referring to the gallery as a site with a diverse and sequential story, Morton also suggests the possibility of the gallery as a series of rooms — different spaces in time, piled atop one another and, here, collapsed into one. Also present are more distant relatives from art’s history: Magritte’s paintings of fabric-covered heads, Duchamp’s unnamed object hidden inside a ball of string, Mel Ramsden’s Secret Paintings and Christo’s wrapped objects. The attempt at complete evacuation has failed, as history and fiction remain.