TO colour, or not to colour? That is the question. Black and white, or shades of grey? That is the challenge.
Prize-winning painter Nigel Milsom has had his share of personal struggles and his public arrest and prison time has potentially overshadowed - or added to - the enigma of his paintings. It's therefore a timely and welcome chance for viewers to establish a real sense of Milsom's creative output at Sydney's Juniper Hall until May 17.
Gallerist Kerry Crowley has curated a mini-survey spanning 10 years - a prelude to Milsom's forthcoming exhibition. Dark and light link paintings together stylistically across the six rooms, revealing in the flesh that Milsom's blacks and whites are infected, almost bruised, with colour: his paint pulls no punches. This energetic but subtle control of media gets largely lost in reproduction, hence the revelation here for first-time audiences.
While Milsom's subjects may seem arbitrary, vaulting from martial artists to birds, telephones and portraits, each image is treated to the bravura painting necessary to truly realise the flash of an idea, a glimpse at grace, a dance around darkness or a flirtation with art history.
- OF dark, light and birds, but sharing little else with Milsom's chiaroscuro, Joanna O'Toole's Wind Shear at Curve Gallery evokes a breezy coastline. Using wire as drawing, airborne sculptures repeat the avian theme throughout. Ink, brush and organic form rely on the opposition of black and white and the chance element of watery wash and drip. Sculpture and drawing share a close relationship but one doesn't necessarily enlighten the other, however O'Toole brings lightness of touch to both.
- BEN Kenning, recent honours graduate at the University of Newcastle has over-filled the diminutive Forsight Gallery with large-scale paintings and a range of lyrical drawings.
Kenning has mastered the calligraphic style of abstract figuration that I'm tempted to label a mix between New York graffiti-subway graduate Jean-Michel Basquiat and reclusive Australian modernist Ian Fairweather's imagery. Kenning's work is full of energy and he works hard. His 2012 residency in Beijing brought new insights to bear, and an upcoming Mumbai residency will likely do the same.
Testing the mark in bigger ponds is an essential step for ambitious artists with talent like Kenning's, and coming home is a double-edged sword.
- CHERIDAN Chard's first exhibition at Four Point Gallery coincides with study at Newcastle Art School (TAFE), where she intends to pursue painting. The photographs in Insightful suggest she could make interesting studio discoveries as her compositions of primarily urban themes are well crafted.
Glass, street-signs and reflection are more intriguing methods of image-making than the computer-enhanced work in an impressive introductory exhibition.
- THE ambience of a gallery as it expresses the director's aura, are as subjective as our private homes, and at C-Studios there's an atmosphere of happy chaos where more is more.
A playful, naïve joy is irrepressible in paintings by Fred Herbert who has welcomed the chance to exhibit as a senior artist: he does it with fearlessly eclectic style.
In the well-lit front gallery space, Gloucester art teacher Christopher Steele brings everything to the table in his Resonance de Femme: fluorescent colour, hard-edged composite imagery and sensuous, feminine nudes present a high-keyed frenetic pace. No chromophobia - fear of colour - here! Works on paper are my preference, but looking en mass it is hard to single out images and I must declare my pictorial agoraphobia: a fear of crowds of paintings (with apologies to genuine agoraphobics).
- PODSPACE has popped up right across the city this past year, with Newcastle Art Space representing a more conventional site.
Identity, as the name suggests, brings together a range of works from people with diverse experiences of disability. It is quintessential art therapy, presenting positive affirmations of difference rather than an ambitious exhibition. That said, there are some sensitive expressions to behold.
- FINALLY and sadly, Cessnock Regional Art Gallery has closed until further notice as Cessnock council has withdrawn funding. Director John Barnes has resigned, thanking all CRAGs supporters, especially the dedicated volunteers.