Tasmanian/ Exhibitions/ Paul Gundry
The Australian August 20th 2010 Arts p.16
City Limits/ Common Ground is the latest exhibition from Hobart artist Paul Gundry. He explores the natural and the artificial with his series of oil-on-canvas works of suburban houses. Each house is deeply familiar and appears softly blurred, as if viewed through squinted eyes. In his artists statement, Gundry says this "is also an indexical marker of photography and the photographic" where he illuminates assumptions about photography as "a largely unchallenged guarantor of a stable objective reality".
Paul Gundry – City Limits/Common Place
Dr Wayne Brooks, Opening Speaker 20th August, 2010
On ABC Television on last Tuesday night, Waldemar opened Pandora's Box for public scrutiny. Although emasculated by Modernism, the Baroque was a rich menagerie of wonder and optical stratum. Visually, it spoke a language that was louder than the scriptures could ever be, and it seduced wavering infidels who had perhaps contemplated alternative paths to righteousness. At its zenith it produced expansive ceiling canopies that not only roared with visual virtuosity, they implanted an ocular code in that audience which has evolved into our television vernacular within the Millennium. The spectacular Quaturisti and Pitori Figuristi gave Europe Jesusit Frescos that were the very Genesis of the cinematic, High Definition, Plasma entertainment appliances that we now crave for our own domestic entertainment. Yes, these blockbusters were the 17th and 18th century versions of Avatar. I also acknowledge the plasma is also a blood bi-product.
I embrace the televisual world, the constant bombardment of the digital age, but I got frightened recently, and it was a member of my family that frightened me. My younger brother, who is potentially stranger than me, had bought himself a 6 billion centimetre flat screen hyperpixeldigitronathing and screened a blue ray movie for our viewing pleasure. But it was a displeasure because I could see every nasal hair of everyone and who ironed their clothes and who hadn't showered. As much as I celebrate the hypermaximist still, there is too much information in this format, and I am horrified by Hong Kong's development of 3D blue ray pornography – the money shot may well require therapy.
Where is Paul in all this? The linkages are submerged, but they are there. The Baroque was about enticement, slippage and the blurring of edges. The Theatre Sacrum, (Sacred Theatre) fused the boundaries between the factual and the fictional, a pictorial uncertainity, an oscillating twilight within which he hovers. As far as the blue ray anecdote, well Paul is the safety harness because it heads us into the anthesis of this confronting, extreame focus.
This urbanite haze, this suburban, noiric spirit is Paul's third adventure into the barter between the tenbrist torch and the hamlet's porch light. What began as Northern Suburban sfumato in 2008's "Street Theatre", evolved into the vaporous rapture of last year's "Home Cinema" abstractions. Clearly, this show is an elaboration, a refinement of that horizon and essentially a brilliant paradox and as he distils the blur, he becomes the virtuoso of the vague. I always have fun writing about Paul's work because I get to say things like – a portal to the velvet abyss, a domicile Rothko, an apotheosis of the Arkley, anthropological ether, but the foundation of these vapour trails is an exacting process, so let's head back to earth.
The anchor of Paul's practice is photography, the fulcrum of The Age of Reason. Shedding the shackles of mythology, theology and the hysterical, it provided the artist with a focused, contemporary reality, an undeniable absolute – the picture. As Paul suggests – photography remains a largely unchallenged guarantor of a stable objective reality. Armed with this authoritative devise he selects the stoic, iconic neighbourhood abode as an object for picture making. He possesses a refined pictographic template that choreographs the object's audition for its illumination possibilities. The defusing or wavering of the focus not only conjures the half-waking moment of uncertain softness, (where am I, who am I, who are you?) but it initiates a nonrepresentational synopsis, an ironic form of pareidolia where the architecture boundaries are neutralized into a hyper-static biomorphism.
It is absolutely clear that there is a shift coming within South Arm 1 & 2, they are a diversification from his urban prowling, and while there remains an abundance of folk-fictional Real Estate for him to explore, I can't help but see the possibility of a new virus in his petri dish. There remains, however, a great many patrons who hope we never have to say "There goes the neighbourhood!" I sensed your pride on Wednesday Paul, and proud you should be of this show, so let me extend my congratulations on your triumph and afford you my gratitude for allowing me to publically indulge myself – again.
CITY LIMITS/COMMON PLACE
Paul Gundry – August 2010
Through my work I look to engage with the philosophy of perception and to examine the common place assumptions that adhere to our apprehensions of art and reality
The blurry, soft-focus appearance of my work suggests a hindrance to perception but it is also an indexical marker of photography and the photographic. Photography, despite the advent of the digital age and our readiness to embrace the possibility of photographic manipulation, remains a largely unchallenged guarantor of a stable objective reality. My work pairs this strong referent to the trace of photography with 'artificial' representations of reality. In my painting I work with imagery that is at the limits of the natural in terms of lighting and this lends the imagery an appearance of artificiality without abandoning its basis in the photographic. The simultaneous appearance of the natural and the artificial is aimed at questioning the priorities that are at play in common sense assumptions concerning perceptual reality.
Likewise, suburban houses as icons of the everyday serve as subject matter for this enterprise on multiple fronts. Firstly, as an icon of the everyday, they are an object that we have a great deal of confidence in – a thing which we take for granted. Likewise, their status as a rational assembly of lines and planes that imply volume and the third dimension is consistent with our faith in an objective and enduring external reality. However, and in the same moment, mathematical objects of reason exist independently of the senses and therefore potentially undermine any confidence in such an independent existence of objective reality. This complication of the independent status of the artificial and the natural – and the spectre of their mutual definition – poses a question that it is central to my painting practice, namely, the question of the independence of art and reality and the conventional nature of art.
Paul Gundry – Home Cinema
Colville Gallery May 2009
Dr Wayne Brookes
It’s possibly hard to believe but, I have a couple of annoying habits. One of the most annoying things I do is hunt down practitioners, painters in particular. Unlike the vigilantly South American model I don’t wait until sunset, round them up, take them to the outskirts of town and shoot them – it’s just a tad extreme. Rather, if I see an ex-graduate out and about (be they art school or the Hobart College, now ACADEMY AND POLYTECHNIC at Mt nelson) I’ll ask them, usually in a really annoying way, whether they are still painting. It’s great, because they usually collapse into a quivering mass of guilt – because it’s illegal to have it and not use it – it’s the law and I apply the same rule to my teaching colleges – who have gone the “way of the drought.”
Of course Paul was not immune to this, and since 1997 when he finished his honours, I had been occasionally bumping into him and I would always ask him – “Are you painting?” – You could see the sublimated agitation welling up in his eyes and you could read in his face – “Please don’t ask me…please don’t ask me…please DON’T ….”. You see I was in love with his German Sheppards all painted in that glorious slipped focused post Gierhard Ritcher manner. But we know Paul is far too well mannered to behave badly about these encounters, but just before July last year, I saw him beaming – and he said a resounding – Yes, Yes I am, and lo the universe did sigh!
Last year’s “St Theatre” initiated a Northern Suburb sfmumato – a peripheral vision – urbanite, impressionistic, popish surrealism, where the critical, absolute, photographic visual world slipped beneath a horizon of haze – an iconic squint reality.
With Home Cinema we see his miasmic nostalgia evolving, resolving. His vaporous urban abstractions are a form of recessive realism, a suburban noir, where the 21st century tenebrist swaps the lantern light in the Jesuit void for the porch-light in the neighbourhood. Of course, this is concrete human experience, an existentialism of existence, where the individual relates to their abode in the same way they relate to their own skin – and we react to that image – that shrine, that sanctuary, that hypostatic image within the skin of the painting – a skin that Paul executes as a form of hovering spirituality an a portal to the velvet abyss. A domicile Rothko if you like.
Paul’s painting has become an apotheosis of the ether and his blur is the metaphoric vanishing point for all that is digital, all that is absolute. It is good that he is never quite satisfied because that’s the ‘personal best’ of apotheosis that will prevent him from flat lining – peaks and troughs – forever! These works question reality and representation by offering the enigmatic alternative to crystal clear blue-ray irritations. What excites me is that they are the alternative universe to my retentive world of hypermaximism – we know what they are, but concentrate on them and they morph like mythological shape-shifters. This is the finest tradition of abstraction, I love abstract paintings – so I guess that means I love you… I bet you are all saying – how did he keep his hands out of his trousers long enough to write this…
In the words of a Scottish abstract painter that I met in Glasgow in 2002 – When I asked – because I was fascinated – when he knew when a painting was finished – he replied – “When it’s 5 o’clock”- Paul’s daily cycle from beginning to end is a luxurious 10 – 15 hrs – that’s 10 to 15 hours of delicious dichotomy of unfocused clarity – Paul, you have every reason to be pumped by this show – it’s pretty damned bloody fine – and I promise not to ask again..