Ker­rie Poliness
Non-Objec­tive Wildflowers

27th July – 7th September 2024
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Non-Objec­tive Wild­flow­ers at Anna Schwartz Gallery presents Ker­rie Poli­ness’ recent inves­ti­ga­tions into the for­mal sym­me­tries of par­al­lel­o­gram geome­tries, seri­al­i­ty and rep­e­ti­tion. This new body of work con­veys both the phys­i­cal and meta­phys­i­cal rem­nants of native wild­flow­ers scat­tered across the Vic­to­ri­an Vol­canic Plains and the kalei­do­scop­ic res­o­nance of their presence. 

Poli­ness retraces the loss and mem­o­ry of this wild veg­e­ta­tion, threat­ened with extinc­tion, through the trans­la­tion of ener­getic colour fields as a net­work of inter­con­nect­ed struc­tures, into an opti­cal cadence and per­cep­tu­al dif­frac­tion. As the artist explains: The Sun­shine Diuris’, an orchid once known as Snow in the Pad­dock’ belongs to a colour world of tiny flow­ers and plants that have a par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance and ener­gy which is rapid­ly dis­ap­pear­ing. These paint­ings though, are non-objec­tive, not rep­re­sen­ta­tions of indi­vid­ual plants or flow­ers, rather an attempt to recall their visu­al magic.” 

Pre­sent­ed as indi­vid­ual works, the over­all com­po­si­tion ren­ders a sin­gu­lar form or line that folds and reforms, bend­ing into a geo­met­ric wave’ and form­ing into a spa­tial elas­tic­i­ty or cor­po­re­al archi­tec­ture, span­ning the entire gallery space. Cen­tral to her pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the dia­mond motif as well as the struc­tur­al grid; in these paint­ings we expe­ri­ence Poli­ness’ chro­mat­ic lan­guage as a semi­otic sys­tem and as frag­ment­ed tem­po­ral­i­ties. Her abil­i­ty to cap­ture and for­mal­ize the trans­fer­ence of ener­gy from these wild­flow­ers results in an expan­sive geom­e­try that shifts from sub­tle to vibrant hues. 

Exe­cut­ed through a process of lay­er­ing, the appli­ca­tion of this sin­gu­lar line acts as an instru­ment to either reveal or con­ceal an inter­nal, rhyth­mic log­ic. For Poli­ness, it is mate­ri­al­i­ty itself that becomes a con­duit for var­i­ous inter­re­la­tion­ships, whether tan­gi­ble or intan­gi­ble, trans­form­ing it into light, sound, waves and ideas, while ren­der­ing a cog­ni­tive state beyond nor­ma­tive per­cep­tion. The process of mak­ing the draw­ings repli­cates the nature of mate­r­i­al growth,” says Poli­ness. Just like nature; the same sys­tem, mate­ri­als and con­di­tions are employed to gen­er­ate unique out­comes. I have devel­oped a sys­tem of draw­ing geo­met­ric, organ­ic grids that reveal dif­fer­ence through rep­e­ti­tion, with the aim of ques­tion­ing why we seg­re­gate the orig­i­nal from the copy and the syn­thet­ic from the natural.”

A promi­nent fig­ure in the Aus­tralian art world since the 1980s, Ker­rie Poli­ness is known for her large-scale wall draw­ings, often craft­ed by unknown col­lab­o­ra­tors from instruc­tion man­u­als and site-spe­cif­ic instal­la­tions, as well as from her con­tri­bu­tions to the 1990s revival of abstract art in Mel­bourne. Along­side fel­low artists Gary Wil­son and Melin­da Harp­er, Poli­ness launched Store 5, an artist run space focused on new exper­i­men­ta­tions which inter­ro­gat­ed the tra­di­tion­al dis­cours­es of 20th Cen­tu­ry geo­met­ric abstrac­tion and invit­ed mem­bers to explore makeshift mate­ri­als and DIY processes. 

Aes­thet­i­cal­ly aligned to the dis­cours­es of 1960s Con­cep­tu­al Art, Op Art and Geo­met­ric Abstrac­tion, with artists such as Sol LeWitt, Brid­get Riley and Piet Mon­dri­an, Poli­ness’ exam­i­na­tions are informed by per­cep­tions of the mate­r­i­al world and find­ing ways of expe­ri­enc­ing and mak­ing vis­i­ble the unseen. It’s about the phys­i­cal­i­ty of the world around us, the inter­min­gling of ele­ments of mate­ri­al­i­ty, rather than some sort of mate­r­i­al per­fec­tion or sta­sis, which I see as an illu­sion. I’m inter­est­ed in how we expe­ri­ence and per­ceive our­selves in rela­tion to the mate­r­i­al world.”

This enquiry can be traced back to Poli­ness’ ear­ly inves­ti­ga­tions of the 1990s, when she began observ­ing the sub­tle dif­fer­ences and irreg­u­lar­i­ties of pat­terns found in, for exam­ple, gum leaves or baked beans. She observed that whether nat­ur­al or mass-pro­duced, all objects or things are unique and dis­tinct from each oth­er. All objects that are mass pro­duced and made to look iden­ti­cal, Poli­ness prof­fers, are actu­al­ly all dif­fer­ent. Look at atoms, their mol­e­c­u­lar struc­ture, the mate­ri­al­i­ty of every­thing; every­thing is dif­fer­ent and in motion. This aspect of mate­ri­al­i­ty con­nects every object in the world, human-made or oth­er­wise; it puts every­thing in the same boat.” 

In Non-Objec­tive Wild­flow­ers, view­ers expe­ri­ence the sound of a land­scape, a con­cep­tu­al sym­pho­ny staged by a sem­blance of inter­lac­ing lines. And despite its visu­al sim­plic­i­ty, this new body of work illu­mi­nates the order in nature as an intel­li­gent struc­ture, reflect­ing the com­plex­i­ties between har­mo­ny and dis­so­nance. As Poli­ness rein­forces, through geom­e­try, it’s kind of like a short­cut to think­ing about things that are quite complex.” 

Ker­rie Poli­ness Non-Objec­tive Wild­flow­ers, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 27 July – 7 Sep­tem­ber 2024.