Made for the home office

By Rhonda Dredge

There’s an old adage bandied around among gallerists that when times are difficult you show difficult art.

Neon Parc has opened up, the first gallery in the CBD, with a difficult show.

It’s not easy to connect with the exhibition called House Arrest.

Ho Ho Ho Chinese Scroll, for example, seems particularly irrelevant (or is that irreverent?) when you’re looking for comfort.

And HEIMAT, an installation of small, hard-edged paintings in between two vases of artificial flowers, seems to be a piss-take of our newly treasured domestic life. 

The first piece is from 1999 and the second 1991. Perhaps the ‘90s and its glib cleverness doesn’t suit our more solemn times! 

Some galleries have been delving into their stockrooms to find work that resonates with buyers.

Difficult work can be off-putting because of its subject matter or it can be troublesome because it has been passed over in the past but might gel now.

Alex Walker, an artist in her own right, was setting the gallery and she is into site-conditional work.

With so many people working from home, the objects on show seemed targeted for domestic spaces, easy pieces lifted off the wall and transported.

Site-conditional art is made predominantly in and for a particular space but perhaps the domestic is not quite what it used to be. Has the time we’ve spent looking at the hard, plastic surface of a screen changed our aesthetic?

“During the COVID crisis we’ve been so reliant on screens and technology to communicate and engage with the world,” Alex said. “These types of works offer a reprieve to use all our senses.”

Behind her in the office is a wall hanging made by Teelah George out of thread on cloth in 2019 that fits this description. 

It is comfortingly textured and coloured, and it’s easy to imagine it warming up the décor of a CBD apartment, a nice foil to all those hard surfaces. 

“Maybe as well because it’s an effort to see art in 3D again … we’re so used to seeing it on screens … that Teelah George is so compelling,” Alex said.

The work is contemporary and connects to the current love of texture, its name Saffron refers to the colour and it looks particularly stylish hanging on a wall as a backdrop to a person.

You can imagine it looking great on Zoom in your home office and, it has to be admitted, so would the brilliant red scroll Ho Ho Ho by Aleks Danko and for that matter, so would the irony of HEIMAT by Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley. 

House Arrest, Neon Parc City, until June 27. Open Fridays and Saturdays •

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