The Northcote Penguins

On August 12 The Northcote Penguins caught the 86 tram to the arts precinct around Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.  Dianne Tanzer Gallery was our first stop.  Here we enjoyed a solo exhibition of the works of contemporary photographer Cherine Fahd titled ‘Homage to a Rectangle’. Her photographs revealed fleeting fragments of the female form between geometric shapes, often in bold primary colours. Graphically intriguing, they seemed to reference the German abstract painter Joseph Albers who produced a series of works titled ‘Homage to a Square’ in 1962.  The artists commented on the strong use of colour and the idea of integrating figuration and abstraction in a single composition.

We then moved on to Gertrude Contemporary and enjoyed a highly immersive minimalist installation that took over the entire gallery, bathing it in a warm yellow light through the introduction of a second flexible membrane ceiling a metre above our heads and approximately a metre below the original ceiling that had been painted yellow.  The effect of the light as we travelled through the space was calming – as though we had walked into another world.

The final stop was to visit The Australian Print Workshop.  We were lucky enough to encounter some extraordinary landscape works by John Wolseley, who is concurrently exhibiting at the NGV.  Many of the artists whose current focus has been in drawing and printmaking loved seeing how loose and painterly his mark-making was.

The following week, After looking at contemporary artists William Kentridge, Jon Campbell and Marina Abramovich in the morning discussion class, The Northcote Penguins had a lovely day in the city today, first visiting Tolarno Galleries to view the most recent solo exhibition of the works of painter Tim Johnson.  The title of the exhibition Open Source is a reference to a computer program that involves others in its production and use, referring both to the collaborative nature of the work as well as to the sourcing of the imagery and the many possible interpretations and meanings.  As many of the artists source their reference images in a similar way, they found it easy to relate to the painter’s use of repeated motifs, patterns and appropriations of imagery and technique, and were also inspired by the very large works at approximately 180cm wide that were coupled with very small works of approx. 18cm high.

We then visited Arc One Gallery in Flinders lane and found the works of Australian painter Catherine Woo.  Her solo exhibition titled Incendie revealed paintings using mixed media on an aluminium substrate and although abstract, they evidenced a strong narrative based on ideas surrounding the global issue of climate change.  We spoke about the connection between the methodologies used in both exhibitions – that they abstracted the landscape whilst maintaining a clear visual message using a haptic ‘all-over’ zoomed-out perspective, where the eye keeps moving over the surface of the painting and there is no traditional perspectival depiction of space.