Utopian Slumps’ end of year show, The Painting Group, features the work of nine Australian artists who act as a self-proclaimed ‘painting support group’ for each other. It’s the first time they have exhibited together and their work is really packed in. Ideally they could have been afforded a little more breathing space but despite this, some stand-out pieces shine through.
Five paintings by Jess Lucas, all entitled ‘Age 15, Talent Agency’ depict the inherent awkwardness of youth. Lucas loves to play with the facades of things and her subject, despite her best professional poses, emanates an uneasiness created by painterly distortions that subtly morph and warp the teen’s features.
Next to Lucas are two composite landscapes by New Zealand-born Jake Walker. The fusion of rural vistas in ‘Taupo’ (above) reveals the artist’s interest in the layering of imagery – he often works on top of found paintings. Particularly enticing is the inclusion of an intricately painted square of crocheted rug. This colourful embellishment enlivens the scene with a retro flourish that recalls the domestic interiors of the areas depicted.
But it’s ‘The Lucky Country’ by William Mackinnon that steals the show. In amplified colour, the artist’s textural application of paint evinces the raw earthiness of the outback. Unlike his previous series involving nocturnal roadside scenes and fantastical landscapes, this work delves into the realms of social commentary and the nature of the imagery makes the title sting.
To see the work of these artists, and others, head to Utopian Slumps before the show closes on Saturday. The Painting Group, Utopian Slumps, Ground Floor, 33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne.