Exhibition: 16 Jul – 16 Aug 2014
36 Gosbell Street . Paddington
NSW 2021 Sydney
16 July to 16 August 2014
Pat Brassington is one of Australia’s most respected and influential artists working in photomedia. Since the mid 1980s when her work came to prominence, Brassington has continued to surprise and beguile audiences with images that are pitched, in her words, ‘just off the verge of normality, into those dense patches where the commonplace goes awry.’
In this exhibition Brassington will present the series In search of the marvellous, 2013 along with a selection of more recent works. Marvellous is a term quite closely associated with the Surrealists, whose writings and artworks have informed Brassington’s practice. Surrealist writer Louis Aragon concluded his book Paris Peasant (1926) with a declaration that: ‘The marvellous is the eruption of contradiction within the real.’ Like the Surrealists, Brassington often rubs contradictory everyday objects up against each other to create a fantastic and electrifying essence. Her works suggest an alternative plane for reality, a space where senses take precedence over the rational; where inner drives can be beautiful, brutal and unexpected.
The works are lush and suggestive, like flowers. In Quiescent, 2014 for instance, a pair of bright red petals wrap themselves around a monochrome figure, suggesting bodily workings that are nowhere near as dormant as the title suggests. Flowers re-appear elsewhere in the works. In Pansy a woman’s mouth is obscured by a flower, as if the unconscious, having been rendered mute, has found other ways to be expressed. This muteness echoes in other works. The beasts in Flamingo and Marvel have no language but knowing eyes. The red headed siren in By Catch holds one hand on her mouth and the other over her heart. Whereas the unexpected encounters favoured by the Surrealists could be either accidental or deliberate, we are in no doubt that Brassington - with a lightness of touch, gentle humour and a deft use of colour – is in control of hers.
In 2013 Brassington won the prestigious Monash Gallery of Art Bowness Photography Prize. In 2012 the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA ) hosted a major survey of her work, 'A Rebours', curated by Juliana Engberg, which toured nationally. Brassington’s work has also featured in major exhibitions, including the Adelaide Biennale 'Parallel Colisions' (2012);'Feminism Never Happened' at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010); the Biennale of Sydney (2004); a major solo retrospective at the Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne (2002); World Without End' - Photography and the 20th Century' at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2000) and 'Fotokunst Aus Australien', Berlin (2000), curated by Bernice Murphy.