Went to the opening of this really good show by my friend Alan, in the salubrious (not) suburb of Redfern ....(even better that the parking fairy was with me coz I parked virtually outside the gallery!) I haven't been to an opening at Legge before and was pleasantly surprised by the space and lighting (I seem to remember that it was smaller at my last visit??)
Anyway, I enjoyed Alan's work immensely, and admire that he is brave enough to think of a concept and go for it, adjusting the execution according to the needs of the subject rather than his "known" style. This show extends his previous exploration of the immediate family (memorable painting of his brother etc having first brought him to my attention, before meeting him some 5 years later) to that of his convict ancestor, Robert, who was tried and on death row for the murder of a local aborigine. He received a reprieve at the last minute, and we're glad he did (otherwise the gorgeous Alan wouldn't be here!)
The portraits of Robert, the aborigine (complete with scratches-he was apparently dragged through a fire and then killed) and sundry other main characters in this saga were sculpted in charicature, made of material and placed on backing boards, rather like hunting trophies, lined with representations of wallpaper (either available in the time of the incident or reminiscent of those in the family home Alan Grew up in).
A large, ripper of a painting shows Robert the convict flattened against a realistically depicted River scape, which refers to the land that he later settled at Windsor. I love the way Alan has let go with the paint - thick, luscious white strokes, probably placed in part by fingers, with dobs of blue representing convict attire, and exploding with grey lines of tubed paint in a halo around him. These lines carry through to the other paintings in the show, which are a departure for Alan, being rather geometric, executed in line only and, consequently, apparently abstract.
At first I couldn't see the connection to the Exhibition title and other work, until I stood back and realised the pattern made the words "I hate today" and "Death Tomorrow" (obviously projecting Robert's thoughts). These thoughts are also written in chalk on large blackboards, framed identically forming panels which include the Union Jack and a number of intriguingly repeated muscats (the murder weapon?). Again, it was great to see an artist so obviuosly enjoying paint, communicating well with his audience, and having heaps of fun (and I don't mean with the wine, which he rarely touches!)
If you haven't ventured to Redfern, take the trip - this show is really worth seeing. On until August 15