Why Do We Do The Things We Do
9th May – 7th June 2008
The second of Artspace’s series of solo exhibitions encompassing all the gallery spaces was a multi-faceted project installation of recent and new works by Melbourne-based artist Rose Nolan — the most ambitious and comprehensive presentation of her work ever undertaken in Sydney.
Rose Nolan traffics in forms, codes and ideals founded in and so also constantly referencing back to utopian strands of twentieth-century avant-gardism. Ranging from artist books and multiples through to large-scale floor works, wall paintings and banners — joined in this exhibition also by photographs, moving image and found object works — Nolan’s practice seeks to examine the complexity of art objects (materials, scale, content, process, history) and the ways in which such objects can both transform and be transformed by the spaces in which they are placed and by their relationship to the viewer.
Working within the pictorial tradition of abstract and non-objective painting, Nolan’s ongoing project encompasses various areas of enquiry: for example, text as material object; the authority of history; and the experience of the provisional. It also finds content in the legacies of art history, in particular early modernism via Russian constructivism, Malevich and Duchamp linking to Sol Lewitt and 1960s conceptual art. As Nolan states: ‘With a distance afforded through time, geographical location, cultural difference and personal context, works are open to a variety of interpretations. There is an ingenuous and playful slippage in which the gap between an historical context and my current experience creates a space for interpretations to be confounded. Through the use of particular materials (paint, “found” cardboard, paper, wood, text, a limited palette of red and white) derived from an interest in the everyday, the fragile and the provisional, references to the past are re-contexualised in a new form. Simple modes of construction disrupt expectation leaving the viewer to ponder questions of value and craft.’
Rose Nolan’s work brushes the heroic gestures of utopian modernism with the intimacies and foibles of the personal.
Artspace acknowledges the assistance of Anna Schwartz Gallery, Australia, in the realisation of the project.
Curated by Blair French and Robert Leonard