Saturday, January 30, 2016

Polychrome Fine Art and Deluge Contemporary Art - Two Duos - by Philip Willey - January 2016

There have been a lot of prominent deaths lately. Lemmy, Bowie, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, cultural icons some of us older folks have grown up with. There will certainly be more. Who’s next? Keith Richards seems to have some kind of exemption. Dylan maybe? Most people in their seventies are bound to wonder when and where old Grim will appear. It’s the elephant in the room.

Which may seem like a downbeat way of introducing two  enjoyable shows, Ty Danylchuk and Jason Balaam at Polychrome and another, ‘hide in plain sight’ at Deluge Contemporary Art. Apart from being duos the shows have no obvious connections to each other. 

Ty Danylchuk works with found objects and collage. This puts him in line of descent from artists like Schwitters and Rauschenberg but with his own original twist. He doesn’t like statements. The collage series are Fifties imagery against a graffiti-like background. There are tobacco pipes with smoke-like bushy tails. Duchamp comes to mind. Shawn Shepherd saw them in Ty’s studio and encouraged him to show them.

Ty Danylchuk
Jason Balaam is more forthcoming. Paintings on his website are full of colour and movement. He talks about intoxication, delirium. He even has the words tattooed on his head. But he has gone through a major transformation recently. His hair has grown back and the work at Polychrome Fine Art is more restrained, monochrome…. it appears minimal from a distance but it contains complex textural variations.

Jason Balaam
In his statement he talks about youthful psychedelic experiences and his feelings about exuberance and colour….
‘Years of handling all that chaotic colour through pattern has given me the eyes to see colours within the white and the ability to imbue these serene white surfaces with some of that old magic chaos.’

It’s a lively and inventive show. Danylchuk and Balaam have years of experimentation ahead of them. Neither of them appears to be running out of time.

Over at Deluge Contemporary Art where James Lindsay and Lance Austin Olsen, two of Victoria’s senior artists, are having a show the mood is more contemplative. The title, hide in plain sight, is apt. The work is introspective and personal but public at the same time.

James Lindsay
Lance Austin Olsen
In this show Lindsay uses discarded canvas found locally to make a series of abstract paintings….Olsen has chosen to show two energetic triptychs and some of his distinctive graphite drawings. Olsen’s work appears monumental… almost defiant where Lindsay’s is colourful, witty and surprisingly unpolitical. There is also a tableau of objects from Lindsay’s studio representing treasured memories and moments, the tangible things he has collected over a lifetime. They include Buddhas, a severed hand (plastic), joss sticks, the ubiquitous skull and various containers installed below an early seascape by Myfanwy Spencer Pavelic.

Lindsay is from Scotland, Olsen from England, but curiously, there are no references to shared history, no bagpipes, no coronation mugs, not even a hint of Stonehenge.

Perhaps after living so many years on the West Coast they have detached themselves from their antecedents and been absorbed into the prevailing ethos, but it’s still possible to make out residual traces. James Lindsay has maintained an uncompromising revolutionary position from his Chinatown loft. Lance Austin Olsen likewise is fiercely skeptical of those in power whilst striving for inner stillness in James Bay. There is a dialectic element in much of Lindsay’s work and a distrust of language in Olsen’s which makes for interesting juxtaposition and commonalities.

“The exhibition is the result of the independent investigations of each while operating as a kind of interrogatory of each other.” Deluge Contemporary Art.

This show is both timely and moving. As we age the material world becomes less and less important. Only spirit matters. Both Lindsay and Olsen are approaching the end of their respective journeys of discovery. There’s nothing morbid or gloomy about this show but there is an invisible presence. Both artists must think about death occasionally. Is it an end or a new beginning? Should we rage or go gently into the good night? These are questions  all of us have to come to terms with sooner or later.

The Polychrome Fine Art show runs until Feb. 4th..    " hide in plain sight " is at Deluge Contemporary Art until Feb. 27th.

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