SCULPTOR Glen Henderson and painter Susan Ryman have shared exhibitions many times over 25 years.
At Art Systems Wickham until tomorrow there are surprising links between groupings of tiny, precise paintings of discrete subjects and spare assemblages of geometric found-metal objects.
Both create webs of association. Henderson's small, abstract totems suggest emotion in precarious balancing acts. He makes symbolic use of small propellers, as well as an interactive chrome coating for the basic bronze. Individual readings are as much part of these apparently simple works as is the evident welding of the component parts.
Ryman uses potentially childish coloured pencils, yet her encyclopaedic repertoire of people, dogs, fruit, flowers, fish and many surreal hybrids, each formally framed, is rife with sophisticated historical quotation and implied emotional narrative.
Dozens of small images are displayed in carefully choreographed groups suggesting stories. However, individual pricing allows, even encourages, purchasers to make their own stories - some bound to be a bit creepy, even nightmarish.
- UNTIL October 24, Gallery 139 has the second solo exhibition from one of its group of regular artists.
Flynn Doran is an interesting choice. His sculpture is resolutely abstract, completely committed to linear form, to balancing acts in welded wire often combined with rust-patinated sheets of iron.
Here is a young artist passionate about three-dimensional structure in its most challenging form. Can he scale these immaculately made table-top works up to monumental size without losing the intimate confidence of the miniature?
Does a promising future extend into architecture? The works in the exhibition all refer to actual Newcastle sites, elaborated in spare, constructivist drawings.
He is one to watch.
- HORSES have always inspired awe and wonder. They have shared the life of heroes, ancient and modern, and conferred majesty on countless equestrian memorials.
Ruth Chapman is aware of this imaginative legacy, but her graphite and charcoal studies, at CStudios until November 1, concentrate more on the fairytale allure of pricked ears, lustrous eyes and fluid speed, haunting the margins of dreams, in contrast to her studies of patient donkeys.
- MAITLAND Regional Art Gallery has eight simultaneous exhibitions, which might well be a record. There is an energetic mix of local artists and those from further afield, as well as the dynamic of big group shows.
It is Maitland's turn to host ARTEXPRESS, now a more major event than ever. Drawn from more than 9000 works submitted for the 2014 HSC examination, there are at present eight individual exhibitions in Sydney and beyond, each favouring its local area.
In the large upper gallery in Maitland until November 1, about a third of the varied works come from schools north of Sydney.
As usual, there is a wide variety of themes and materials, from underwater videos and a tower of stiffened lace to a life-sized welded metal horse and some accomplished portraits.
And again it is magnetic viewing, not only for schools and teachers.
Another exhibition comes from pre-schools and primary schools in the Maitland area. A spectacular success for the past six years, Face once again reveals a lively range of images, with both careful portraits and paintings of wild creativity by younger children before stereotypes invade the classroom. On view until November 29.
Rachael Ireland is a photographer who skilfully uses double-exposed or manipulated images. Her subject at Maitland until November 29, in the downstairs gallery, is the ambiguity and fragility of our concepts of security and home. Transparent closed doors and windows reveal the forest outside. Dented seats of armchairs invoke past sitters in a romantically lit suggestion of unseen presences, benign but unsettling.
Renae Carlson studied for many years in Kyoto, but now lives in Dungog. Her corridor of small, spare collages exhibits the rarefied sensibility of Japanese aesthetics and thrives in the narrow space where the viewer is encouraged to look slowly and closely at details of materials.
These include frayed linens and textured oriental papers, linked by Zen-like gestures in sumi ink, with looping black cords in elegant synthesis, rich in wordless meaning.
I will write about the other offerings at Maitland in coming weeks.