Calculated risks and the creative life

“The greater the risk, the greater the reward”, many of us have heard this or something similar to this line multiple times. It is often assumed that those who break new ground – entrepreneurs, innovators, revolutionaries – in any field do so after exposing themselves to huge amounts of danger and uncertainty. Surprisingly, after closely examining highly creative personalities in business, sports, arts and other areas, Wharton professor and organisational psychologist Adam Grant came to a different conclusion. In his bestselling 2016 book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Grant notes:

Originals do vary in their attitudes toward risk. Some are skydiving gamblers; others are penny-pinching germophobes. To become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk. But the most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look. They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in the New Yorker, “Many entrepreneurs take plenty of risks—but those are generally the failed entrepreneurs, not the success stories.”

In other words, original thinkers and actors always carry a balanced risk portfolio. That is, if they are taking extreme risks in one arena, they will offset them with extreme caution in another. Take Bill Gates, we all know him as the “Harvard dropout”. But consider this—when Gates sold a new software programme as a sophomore, he waited an entire year before leaving school. And even then he didn’t drop out, he actually applied for a leave of absence that was formally approved by the university, and then he asked his parents to bankroll him. He was ready to go back to college if things didn’t work out.

In the realm of the arts, T S Eliot is a great example of measured risk. Hailed as one of twentieth century’s most significant poets, Eliot continued to work for a bank and later, a publishing house even after gaining wide recognition for his creativity. Far from distracting us, having some kind of stability, fixed attitude and sense of security in one area of life allows one to be freer in another. Grant continues: “By covering our bases financially, we escape the pressure to publish half-baked books, sell shoddy art, or launch untested businesses.”

So that’s about risk in the general sense, at the level of one’s profession/occupation. How much risk should one take within their creative work, particularly artists? Just how familiar or how novel can they afford to be? How can they best communicate their literary or visual narratives? In my view, Man Booker prize-winning New Zealand author Eleanor Catton has a very interesting point to make in this regard. In a Guardian article from 2014, she writes:

Creative influence can have a positive or a negative charge, either imitative (“I want to try that!”) or defiant (“I want to see that done differently”). Both kinds of influence are vital for the health of an idea. Too defiant, and the idea will be shrill; too imitative, and the idea will be safe. For me, the moment when these two charges first come together – when I connect, imaginatively, something that I love as a reader with something that I long for as a reader – is the moment the idea for a story is born.

Scene from Battleship Potemkin / Head VI, 1949, Arts Council collection, Hayward Gallery, London (Fair Use)

The space between “imitation” and “defiance” is again carefully calculated risk. The simple pursuit of what has already been tried and tested before can make one seem stale. On the other hand, being wildly unique can cause one to appear incomprehensible. It is useful, therefore, to pick up some pattern from the past that the intended audience can easily recognise and then present the narrative in a way that has never been attempted before. A small example that comes to mind here is the painter Francis Bacon, who developed a whole series of screaming mouths (in his own style) modelled after a famous image from a scene in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin. Memorable signs, symbols and structures, however tiny, within a seemingly innovative work of art make it more accessible to the viewer/reader and reduce the likelihood of loss for the artist.

Written by Tulika Bahadur

Gift

As a teacher, at this time of year I lead a privileged life of receiving Christmas season gifts from kind students. So far this season, I have been taken to lunch by some of my class, received cards, been given homemade fruit bread and kombucha, also chocolates and panettone.

Naturally, I am honoured and grateful for the thought, but I also sometimes stop for a moment and think about the decision surrounding what it is, to give a gift. With no obligation to do so, the giver has chosen to give. I may have received a gift as someone’s teacher and perhaps there is a recognition of my striving to give in that role through the year, but regardless, when I get a gift, I believe that the giver intended that I receive it as a recognition of my value to them or as a valuing of the relationship that has been formed. And I do feel valued as a person and I do feel the relationship recognised and strengthened.

If chocolates make me feel valued and recognised  then what of everything else I have received? If I begin counting the gifts I have received since birth I have to recognise that I was born into gift. My limbs alone would count as an invaluable gift.

How much is a limb worth? I think most would agree that it is worth far more than all their possessions. Almost all of us are born with limbs and many other equally valuable physical assets. So, whilst some of us are born into wealth and some aren’t, our physical bodies alone are immensely more valuable than our material wealth, and that is not to mention every other attribute we have such as our mind and our consciousness.

We are born into gift.

When we were in the womb, we did not knit together any of our limbs.

We did not even choose the circumstances of our birth.

We did not earn what we have received because it does not originate from us.

We did not earn what we have received because it does not originate from us. Even the greatest of us with incredible achievements do not make themselves or their circumstances. They orientate themselves towards a possibility and are therefore able to receive. A runner did not make their legs, rather, they use their legs. In a way, they fully receive their legs. The more they use them, the more they fully receive their legs. If we extend this metaphor, it can get very uncomfortable for us, because the moment we see everything as gift we have to begin to question our response. And locked in with response, is responsibility.

This is all without mentioning the natural world and the contribution to that world of those who went before us. Somewhere along the line, somebody risked something to improve their own lives and the lives of their children and we are those children. All gift.

We might complain about the circumstances of our birth, about our height or the colour of our hair but if you think about it, it was all gift, a few perceived shortcomings here or there but all gift. Of the bad bits, some have even said that in hindsight it was those experiences that helped form who they were to become, and that they are grateful for that. So arguably, even the perceived shortcomings are gift.

Yes, we groan and there probably are many who at least part of the time, ‘lead lives of quiet desperation,’ but even desperation does mean we do not live in gift. A prisoner still groans for and desires freedom as the fullness of their existence. A prisoner still values what they have and seeks its fullness.

The danger of gift is that we do not recognise that it is gift. Rather we begin to see it as an entitlement. Imagine that if I as a teacher received many gifts and walked away saying to myself something like, “I earned the gift through my hard work. The gift is a reward for my hard work.”

Something has broken down in this hypothetical scenario. The intended honouring of a person and relationship has been subtly manipulated into a transaction. What was given in kindness has been received with pride. The act of giving was for the other, but this form of receiving has been for the self. The only way the receiving can be equally for the other is that it recognises the gift as a gift, not as a transaction based on entitlement.

A gift is unconditional and therefore founded in love. As with love, what is intended as an affirming of the receiver and an affirming of the relationship can be lost and even worse manipulated by an inability to recognise gift. A gift elevates and affirms while bringing together persons, but when a gift is not properly received, the gift is destroyed or used by the receiver to empower themselves, destroying the original relationship.

I think it is appropriate that we have a season where we celebrate with the giving of gifts and the birth of an obscure child in an obscure stable, a child born to be king. The obscure child reminds us of the nature of love and the nature of gift, given in the humility of a stable. The stable does not coerce us with glitz or glamour, rather it leaves us free to choose to receive.

The gifts I have recently received challenge me to recognise the many more gifts I have received through the year, many of them being people I have met. Have I recognised these gifts?

Have a wonderful Christmas break.

Marco

David Palliser – Deep Sneeze

Deep Sneeze, David Palliser

One of Australia’s most extraordinary abstract artists – David Palliser, who we are fortunate to have teaching painting and abstraction at Melbourne Art Class, is showing his new body of work – Deep Sneeze – at Hunger Rozario in Fitzroy for the month of June.

“It’s been 4 years since I’ve had a solo painting show in Melbourne. Much has evolved and surprised me in the studio since then and I’m looking forward immensely to getting this work onto the walls of my new gallery Hunger Rozario. Hope you can come in and have a look over the course of the exhibition.” – David Palliser

For more information, please see the Hunger Rozario website. If you get a chance to go to the exhibition (which we highly encourage), we hope you enjoy it!

Exhibition dates: June 1 to June 30
Times: Tuesday – Friday: 10.00am-5.00pm, Saturday: 12.00pm-4.00pm and by appointment
Location: 143 Bunswick Street, Fitzroy

Final work from our Portraiture Course

Marco Corsini recently held a seven-week Introductory Portraiture Course, and the group of artists that took part helped make it one of our best portraiture courses yet!

During the course, Marco introduced students to the fundamentals of portraiture through working from various plaster casts. The class then spent a session creating self-portraits, with incredible results. Marco has commented that these become special drawings for him as a teacher.

“Every time we have drawn these self portraits from a mirror, whether it is a child drawing or an adult, inexperienced or experienced, I find the resulting drawings so intimate, that I feel like a trace of the person is in them. It is always for me, a significant moment.”

Marco (teacher)

You can click on the images below to enlarge them.

The final four weeks were spent painting from a life model, with the students created some brilliant finished pieces. We want to highlight that most of these students were complete beginners, and we are very proud of how far they have come just after second weeks, and everyone should be very proud of their results!

We want to thank everyone who was a part of this course, as we believe we were really part of something special. We will be running another portraiture course later in the year – so watch this space!

Children and art

The assimilation of new techniques into children’s art work.

I have returned to teaching a children’s class after two years focused upon developing the adults’ classes.

I came into this new children’s class with the intention of introducing some elements of ‘atelier’ or ‘academic’ style training for the children. This is the methodology that many of the adults who have attended our classes would be familiar with, that enables us to rigorously teach technique.

Whilst I intended to introduce the same elements as in our adult’s classes, those of you that know me, will know that I am heavily influenced by Steiner and Montessori educational philosophies. These philosophies emphasise intrinsic self motivation (self motivation), creativity and the natural rhythm of child’s development. Whilst these philosophies are not completely incompatible with the style of training I wanted to introduce, it certainly gives me a lot to consider as a teacher.

We have had our first two classes for the term and the results, in fact, the way in which the first week’s instruction was absorbed then reappeared, fully integrated into the second week’s work has left me speechless. Perhaps these children are just incredibly talented, but somehow, they have taken in the new techniques and used them to produce work which incorporates those techniques into their own powerfully iconographic style. The three examples below by Taku, Chloe and Tyla display a far more individual approach than I would commonly see in adults, yet all have used the techniques of constructing a sphere and use of tone that I had shown them the week before.  They do this while still maintaining an aesthetic integrity; the work holds together as personal statement. The new techniques have been subsumed to the personal visual logic each child individually consistently maintains.

Taku, charcoal on paper, 2016
Taku, charcoal on paper, 2016

Chloe, charcoal on paper. 2016
Chloe, charcoal on paper. 2016

Tyra, charcoal on paper, 2016
Tyra, charcoal on paper, 2016

On the basis of these works, it seems that it is possible to teach technique to children without restricting their creative or personal expression. Taku, for example, maintains a powerful expressive line and an arresting visual impact over the foundation of the structural approach he had been shown. Chloe has a whimsical play with the line of the structural drawing. With the interplay of line and the rubbing of the charcoal, the groups of objects all merge into one whole, showing an interplay of relationships between objects. Tyra also uses value, or tone in a powerful way, inventing value for visual impact (the shadow wasn’t present in the arrangement she was drawing from).

I realise that while teaching what is essentially a limiting process to the children, I shouldn’t limit the children’s other visual processes and iconographies. The purpose of restricting would be to show the assimilation of the technique I am teaching more clearly. The problem being that by restricting other information children use in the image, I may be sending the message that other forms of expression aside from that being taught are are wrong. The eventual casualty of such an approach being the death of creativity, exploration and intrinsic learning.

For the age group in my class, (9 – 12 year olds), it seems I can teach technique and that the child experiences an adaption of the new technique into an existing canon of technique, creativity and visual language rather than a weeding out of those pre-existing elements. In so doing, they maintain their ability for powerful personal expression.

I’m very much looking forward to the work that is to come.

Written by: Marco Corsini

Teacher of our 8 to 14 year old’s Children’s Art Class

Hilmi’s recent shellac and ink works

Our Drawing and Painting teacher, and artist Hilmi Baskurt has been working on some incredible pieces this year. Below are his dried sunflowers. He has used a mix of pencil, charcoal, shellac and ink. Some of the works also have oils and ink mixed in to shellac.

Dried sunflowers, Hilmi Baskurt, pencil, charcoal, shellac and ink, 2016
Dried sunflowers, Hilmi Baskurt, pencil, charcoal, shellac and ink, 2016

 

Dried sunflowers drawing, Hilmi Baskurt, pencil, charcoal, shellac and ink, 2016
Dried sunflowers drawing, Hilmi Baskurt, pencil, charcoal, shellac and ink, 2016

Hilmi Baskurt, Dried Sunflowrs, pencil and charcoal drawing
Dried Sunflowrs, Hilmi Baskurt, pencil and charcoal drawing

 

Hilmi will be running a Drawing Workshop this Saturday 9th July, with a focus on ink, shellac, charcoal and pastel. We are really excited about this workshop and places are filling quickly!

Drawing Workshop: Structure and Value using Ink and Shellac details:

Saturday 9th July

Time: 9.30 am – 4.00 pm

Location: Enderby studio, a historic church hall at 314 Church Street, Richmond

Cost: $126

All materials included

If you would like to join us, you can find out more and enrol here: https://melbourneartclass.com/drawing-workshop-structure-and-value-using-ink-and-shellac/

What happens every Tuesday night in Marco’s Studio Art Class

Enderby Studio Art program is a term-based course and has tended to be an eclectic fusion of talks and presentations by Marco (about four or five per term), guest speakers (one per term) and studio time.

We have a range of students attending this course; from dedicated, practising artists who have been with us for over three years, high school students supplementing their in-hours art classes, to creative people who just need an outlet.

The skill level is extremely varied as well – students tend to either be beginners who are guided through the fundamentals, or more experienced and ongoing artists who work on their own projects with Marco’s guidance. That’s the beauty of our Studio Art program – you can be the creative individual that you are, in an encouraging, non-judgemental environment, and also receive critical and professional artistic guidance if that is what you seek.

Lauren Ottaway, Red Kitchen, acrylic on canvas, 2015. Completed in Studio Art Class
Lauren Ottaway, Red Kitchen, acrylic on canvas, 2015. Completed in Studio Art Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had individuals on a Tuesday, arrive inspired with a new set of stamps and a stamp pad and stamp on huge pieces of paper all night, whilst others work painstakingly at an oil painting they have been focusing on for weeks. And we always have one or two beginners working on exercises set by Marco with his still life arrangement. The mix of people and their combined creativity is truly inspiring.

This class nurtures creativity and expression, and many students also find it an oasis from the “daily grind”. I was part of the class for three years and it was like a breath of fresh air where I was able to access that creative flow where time does not exist. Having this in my busy, corporate week was invaluable.

Marco’s Studio Art class is where I began to take my art practice seriously. Many of the materials are provided for beginners so the program allows a cost effective entry into art practice.

The class is limited to ten students to allow one-on-one tuition. Enrolments are now open for Term 4: http://melbourneartclass.com/enderby-studio-art-program/.

Returning to the River

I’ve just come back from camping and I’m drying out tents. Huge cubist polyester birds in hues of green, stretched by rope hanging over our back courtyard between a row of pencil pines and the fence. Defeated by the alpine rain and now drying, so as to be packed away. Soon the array of camping gear around the house will also be filed away to distant corners and hiding places. The underside of our bed will become an impenetrable block of chairs, tents and camping mattresses, not to be emptied and dusted until the next time we need the ‘gear’. This is camping for the inner-city dweller.

I went back to the river. Not any river; the King River in North East, Victoria. This river supplies and feeds the King Valley, its agriculture and my home town. A thriving tobacco industry existed back then, our Italian families had settled in the area and contributed to the major part of that local industry. As children and teenagers we spent long hours in the river’s not quite tamed waters. In swimming holes where ‘snags’ or fallen logs and other uncertain things hid, where occasionally we could even see a snake swimming.

All along the valley, the river’s flood plains were seasonally under threat from floods. The King River flows into the Ovens and it is there that my home town of Wangaratta lay under regular threat of flooding until a levy bank was built around it’s perimeter. I remember seeing a VW Beetle that had been swept off the flooded, washed out road near the town of Cheshunt, ending up three hundred metres downstream, wedged in a River Red Gum. Apparently its driver had to sit there above the flood waters and wait to be rescued.

I also remember the men of the town leaving work to help sand bag houses that lay close to the flooding One Mile creek. My father, old Bill and I in a row boat as we rowed through the flood waters at the garage where dad had come to work after he had to leave the family farm as a young man. We rowed through to collect the tools off the back of a truck dad had been working on. Old Bill who wasn’t so old back then, rowing. Bill, wirey in stature, toughened by growing up in the the Great Depression, a carpenter who would never buy a new piece of timber, when another could be recycled.

I came to Melbourne and the other world cities I have lived in because I needed them. I needed their knowledge. I needed to know that what I had within me would not be lost and could be connected with the great artistic narratives of the world. Or maybe I came because Greg who was with me when I was painting in Dad’s garage, told me he could not see me staying in Wangaratta. Greg who would scramble to hide my Beastie Boys tape (which he quietly hated) in my Valiant before I could find and play it loud as we drove down to the local swimming hole.

I returned to the river. We have found a place with a beautiful swimming hole not far from from Lake William Hovell, an imposing man-made lake that sits in the hills at the base of the Alpine region. We swim, we eat; we try to avoid the rain, but inevitably get rained on. I go to rest and to be with my family. Actually, I spend most of my time working, setting up camp and cleaning, but it is all done in the context of these magnificent mountains and I seem to soak up the essence of them like I soak up the water.

In the past I have often gone to actively look for inspiration for my work, sketching and collecting, but not this time. After a busy year and with my head full of such stuff as art school budgets, course plans and even the pressure that I place within myself to produce something out of my painting days I have in my own studio, I allowed myself not to feel I had to produce anything. I needed to let go.

Upon arriving I soon realised I was operating as camp manager and parent, always slightly anxious and always looking, checking and cross checking for logistics and possible dangers. Very far from my artist mind and any notion of creativity. I wanted to feel something deeper and thankfully as time went by I found that the environment began to seduce me with its complexity and strange, stark beauty. My sight or the way I saw things began to change. Beauty, or what I call beauty, filtered into my consciousness. I was awed by the erosion of the river into the bank and the smooth river stones imbedded in an overhang which formed part of a layer that was intertwined with tree roots from a tree that perhaps one day will just lean over and fall into the river.  While swimming I could look up at this fusion of elements and species, seemingly random yet so intricately magnificent. A little slice of the complexity of the universe laying at edge of the river with moss, little ferns, the alien blackberry bushes and countless plants and bushes sitting on a loose arrangement of precariously undercut river stones, roots and earth.

I began to reflect on the King River as a source. It’s river stone beds and shallow streams, sometimes bubbling around arrangements of boulders, sometimes disappearing into deep, dark, still waters, which had never been beautiful to me when growing up and I had never thought of its significance in our lives beyond its supply of water. The river as a source which had branded a primordial sense of dependancy and intimacy within me over my half life time. The river that constantly flowed, had always flowed, will always flow. The river that bound us around itself and preserved us. I slowly connected to the idea of source and slowly felt that my own dependancy on this source was being revealed. That I had felt a need for years now, to constantly return to this source. I began to connect with the notion of origin and that just as I sat on the banks of this river or swam or drank from it, all I could ever do was draw close to it, to be within in, return to it. I had to return to this river. I have always returned to the King River.

In the city, as I studied art, I was taught to question the idea of source or origin. So I went looking for another way to understand what we were and how in encountering each other we could understand ourselves. I found the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas who had settled upon building an understanding of ethics based upon encounters between people. Meaning and ethics are derived from encounters and the values highlighted by those encounters.  So, that is often how I live, understanding myself through encounters with others, in the negotiation between myself and others. Returning to the idea of source is for me, to step back to absolute origins where meaning is not negotiated, it already exists.  Call it Logos, God or call it the creative universe, which ever way, meaning and values begin to reveal itself in the text of the mountains and the water. The complexity of this universe is not negotiated when I immerse myself in it, rather it is read, as the veil of everyday life falls away. Meaning and values are observed or perhaps experienced through the magnificence of what one is looking at. Celtic spirituality speaks of certain places where the veil between heaven and earth is thin. For me the veil at the King River is thin, falling away easily to reveal a deeper sense of self, with a stronger current of creativity at its origins.

If the town in which I grew up in is culture, mixing and clashing, negotiating meaning within encounters and reimagining; if Wangaratta is everyday life with all its distractions and tensions, then it sits, unbeknown to itself as a beneficiary of the river that gives it life, a beneficiary from a source that is far more magnificent in scope and complexity than the physical town itself, and yet mostly unrecognised or unnoticed until the floods come.

Awakened by the river and its surrounds, I began to use Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, whereby you write three uncensored pages every morning, first thing. This is a fantastic un-blocker for creatives and I am once again blown away by how effective it is. What a thin veil exists between our everyday selves and the inner creative self that links back into our own creative origins. I found myself further able to imagine and see.

Today would have been the third day I used Julia Cameron’s exercises. I woke up, took my journal, a few books and a pen and I went outside to begin my Morning Pages. I sat in a chair beneath my drying tents. I sat and stared at the magnificence of the forms, the tension in the fabric, deep caverns and the ropes. With other equipment scattered and visually intertwined amongst the forms, I was overcome with new ideas and inspirations. I did not feel that I was producing anything or offering anything for negotiation. I simply had seen something and the implications of that something lept onto my mind from its source. I felt like I was receiving a present as child. I had received.

I drew. I imagined a new work.  How thin the veil between ourselves and our creative origins.

Written by Marco Corsini

Explore your goals for 2016 through Art Therapy

AT 2016_01_07 pic
Carolyn Howells, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is great to have New Year’s resolutions and goals for the future. We will be holding a New Years Art Therapy and Mindfulness Workshop on January 7, which will enable you the time to look at your goals for the year ahead and enable you to see how you would like to achieve them.

In this workshop we will explore the year ahead with the use of art therapy, then learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help maintain equanimity, increase joy and gratitude in our lives

No artistic ability is needed as the art is an expression of your thoughts and feelings through colour, shapes and symbols using various art mediums. Some of the mediums we will use are collage, acrylic paints, and pastels.

Through the creative process we will look at where you are now, any new directions you would like to take, which in turn can bring new insights and strategies for living.  These art processes give you a chance to experiment with changes you may like to make in 2016 before trying them out in real life.

Sometimes we may really want to try something new, but there are blocks or things stopping us from trying (fear, anxiety, perfectionism, money); the art therapy can look at these and help problem solve so you can move forward if you choose to.

It is for self exploration, as no-one else can interpret your artwork, only you know what you think and feel and express through the art.  There is the opportunity to share and gain new understanding through the verbal process if you choose to.

Workshop details

Date: 7th January

Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Cost: $143

Location: Enderby Studio, 314 Church Street, Richmond

Enrol here

 

 

 

Introducing Melbourne artist, Adrian Stojkovich

We are very fortunate to have Adrian Stojkovich joining us at MAC and presenting our new drawing course.

Adrian is as endearing in real life as his work. He carries a youthful energy, seemingly swaggering on the edge of the precipice of creative potentiality he is about to dive into. His work, traced with cool, skilled abandon is undergird by a sound humanity and is about to fall into something wonderful.

Based in Melbourne, Adrian completed his Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours in 2009, and his Masters of Fine Art in 2013 at the Victorian College of the Arts. His recent show at Paradise Hills in Richmond was made up of room of large abstract works and a room of dead fish paintings. He can handle either style well, demonstrating that he is an artist and painter who has taken the time to explore his craft at a high technical level. The work is infused with subtle passion but maintains the clarity to steer his little project whichever way he chooses.

Adrian Stojkovich’s abstract installation, 2015. Image: Paradise Hills Gallery (http://paradisehills.com.au/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adrian’s abstract work comprises  hovering planes of coloured marks on a consistent pale, or dark, or umber background. The marks vary in size and slightly in tone, diffusing beneath layers of thin paint, therefore creating several planes. Despite being on a flat, consistent background, the marks drift off into pockets of infinity. Like little galaxies or the infinite suggested by certain repetitive patterns. These paintings aspire for a greater harmony, a greater resolution, a sense that there is or could be an infinite. The colours Adrain uses are slightly cool and acid, slightly sour yellows and greens, supported by pastels and more mellow cool colours. The colour combinations are fresh enough to keep the whole project interesting yet still harmonise. Abstraction at this end of its historical passage is difficult to do well and Adrian passes it off successfully.

Adrian Stojkovich's abstract installation, 2015. Image: Paradise Hills Gallery
Adrian Stojkovich’s abstract installation, 2015. Image: Paradise Hills Gallery (http://paradisehills.com.au/)

Contrasting these abstract works are the dead fish, Fish Tondo painting, two of which he also presented at Paradise Hills. Painted on large circular canvases, the fish paintings maintain an element of abstraction in the big sweeping forms of fish bodies in glass bowls. Up close, they erupt into the most beautiful colours gently laced with glazing. If for a moment you can avoid seeing the fish as you stand back, they are big sweeping abstracts and up close, masterly plays of raw colour. But they are fish, dead and dumped into a bowl for someone’s consumption or aesthetic amusement. There is a fishy, slimy look to the water they are in, with bubbles hovering around the gill area. They undoubtedly reference the Dutch Golden Age and its genre of dead fish paintings. The works speak of life, survival, death and mortality. Painting is a trade for Adrian, from recent abstraction to 17th century Dutch painting, he knows that trade.

The death of Anastasio Somoza, Modified Mercedes-Benz 280SEL. Image: Matthew Stanton (http://www.adrianstojkovich.com/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He also knows installation and representation. He created a fascinating work in 2014 whereby he rebuilt from historical photographs, the Mercedes Benz within which Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was assassinated in 1980. An insightful investigation of popular media, it hovers between the same banal pop appropriation we have become accustomed to in the last three generations and the other tired contemporary art influence, Duchamp’s found object. But it is not the original object and its role as a facsimile seems to be very tentative. The power of the work is in its materiality and absences. It describes severe violence that we are all familiar with from our own current news reports. It describes the destruction of the impact of a rocket propelled grenade on a car. We know it is not the real deal but the materials, charred, torn and burned are the same, not just a copy. There is something real about the object we see. The knowledge that lives were lost is also very real. The absence of bodies in the installation makes the suggestion of death more relevant. The work jolts out from the plethora of violent images we see every day, somehow adding gravitas back to the humanity, or lack of humanity of the those original images. It recontextualises the decontextualised pop image into a new discourse of humanity and mortality.

Adrian is a solid young artist who knows his craft as a painter and handles the complexities of contemporary art and representation well. He has built up a sound base early in his career with wonderful results. Now what remains is to see what Adrian will do next.

Naked Maja, Adrian Stojkovich, Oil on canvas , 2009
Naked Maja, Adrian Stojkovich, Oil on canvas , 2009

Drawing with Adrian Stojkovich

During this six-week course, Adrian will introduce strategies and techniques for drawing from Still Life. This course will assist beginners in developing fundamental drawing techniques. It is also well suited to people with some drawing experience who want to re-establish the foundations of their practice. Read more and enrol here.

Written by Marco Corsini