Please join us at Breezeblock at 3pm on the final day of 'For Lease: Reinterpreting Place', for talks with artists David Eastwood and Joan Ross, Sunday March 30 at 3pm.
Breezeblock operates from an unoccupied 'For Lease' retail space courtesy of property developers The Hayson Group. Just as Breezeblock is a temporary reinterpretation of its location, this exhibition For Lease: Reinterpreting place will bring together the work of artists whose practice also re-examines notions of place. Works appropriating the semiotics of place and history in order to interrogate personal, social and cultural identity, seem like ideal temporary occupants of Breezeblock.
For Lease: Reinterpreting Place
My friends L and J live in a rented house adjoining their landlord’s mirror image abode. L describes looking across the shared central courtyard to the closed blinds of the neighbouring house. The blinds never open, but she is still constantly aware of the owners’ potential presence, and the possibility of being seen scurrying past half undressed while looking for an errant t-shirt. ‘You can live here,’ the closed blinds suggest, ‘but don’t get too comfortable.’
Breezeblock operates from an unoccupied retail space. Until recently this included a Reading Room, an ante-chamber whose existing boardroom furniture was temporarily co-opted into a place for artist publications and talks. A FOR LEASE sign sat ever-present on the wall, looking out over the crates and journals, surveying its domain. The all too familiar situation faced by artist-run initiatives, writ large. ‘You are here for now, but don’t get too comfortable.’ Sure enough, less than two weeks before For Lease: Reinterpreting Place was due to open, the Reading Room of Breezeblock ceased to be. Arrangements have changed, but Breezeblock persists, its frontline having been adjusted.
Security grilles are the frontline of suburbia. Kenzee Patterson’s grilles contain the floral emblems of Australian states and territories, combining the delicate and the rigid into a symbolic and idealised concept of nationhood with the familiarity and reality of suburban life. They suggest an irony about the principles and signifiers of this country, who and what is contained inside it and out.
Joan Ross’ digital animation is also concerned with containment. The romanticised watercolour landscape of colonialism and the contemporary encroachment of high-vis uniforms share a darker motivation of occupation and control. Ross acknowledges rather than denies the human desire to trespass (as well as the opposing protective reflex), which can manifest in as innocent an action as touching someone else’s shopping.
Michael Lindeman’s work reinterprets the geography of the canvas to create paintings that at first glance might not seem like paintings at all. By impersonating other media such as classified listings, department store advertising, and in the case of Dear Real Estate Agent, handwritten notes, they seduce the viewer via a subtle humour, playing upon these formats to reveal an interrogation of the role of painting now and in the future.
Jake Walker has used his ongoing interest in the work of New Zealand architect Ian Athfield to address the architecture of painting. Chimneys, walls and windowsills are formed in Walker’s ceramic frames which surround course jute canvases. The front ofappears lightly flecked with paint, a result of primer applied to the reverse of the canvas which has oozed through. This is painting to encapsulate the sensation of inhabiting a particular architectural environment, just as the body moving through space is a form of painting too.
The architecture of artists’ studios is the preoccupation of David Eastwood. Eastwood’s diorama-like reconstruction of Giorgio Morandi’s studio (upon which these paintings are based) was guided by various sources of documentation rather than a physical experience, an approach echoing the ongoing reconfiguration and renovation of the original studio itself. Peep affords the viewer a voyeuristic vantage point of Morandi’s bed, while Quadri Spagliati (a term describing the artist’s habit of scraping wet paint off unsatisfactory works in progress) shows the view below the easel rather than beyond it. Eastwood’s reinterpretation of Morandi’s studio poses questions about the perceived authenticity of the artist’s studio in relation to the works which emerge from it.
J.D. Reforma’s practice dwells at the meeting point of the personal, the historical, and the (sometimes pop-) cultural. In Marathon, the urban and suburban, the natural and the human-made, the inert and the dynamic converge, as Reforma travels through a number of physical, ideological and biological places examining various notions of distance.
The works in For Lease: Reinterpreting Place seem like ideal temporary occupants of Breezeblock. Though they approach from different directions, each artist in this exhibition draws on aspects of cultural and social histories, and like the space they currently inhabit, they re-examine supposed certainties of place, creating something new in the process.