Asked to respond to the show’s title, Australia Felix, the seventeen artists currently on view at the Crane Icebox present work that reflects aspects of their Australian identity. Organized by curator Ross Woodrow, the exhibition is a response to one of the earliest, major exhibitions of contemporary Australian art in the United States, the Guggenheim’s Australian Visions from 1984. In an attempt to present a more diverse group of Australian artists, the show includes more women, artists from indigenous backgrounds, and work in a variety of mediums. The result is an Australian identity that remains in flux and indefinable. On view until August 28, the show reveals shared anxieties about Australia’s problematic cultural history.
Donna Marcus’ “Code” is made up of a grid of kitchen cooking vessels whose markings become as indecipherable as a foreign alphabet. The work alludes to cultural differences and the traces left by technology.
Ian Burn’s sculpture “What Might Be” celebrates the fleeting moment. Light is refracted through magnifying glasses to create flickering dashes of light on the wall. Eventually, the message “As Though Found” appears, but it just as quickly disappears again.
With a run-on of like-sounding words, Gordon Hookey’s “Conject Jar” reveals the confusion and lack of understanding that perpetuates racism and sexism. The figures in each scene of the large panel are blinded by national identities and only alien beings can recognize their foolishness.
With an interest in text and image, Jenny Watson’s paintings have a childlike style and seem like an attempt to make sense of the world’s peculiarities.
Judy Watson’s work incorporates traditional indigenous symbols to create large-scale compositions with immediacy.
Madeleine Kelly’s paintings have a quality of other-worldliness, with flashes of color and ghosted animals that resemble spirits.
Mostyn Bramley-Moore’s abstract paintings are dark and foreboding. With built-up layers of paint, the work portrays confrontation, and the artist’s use of spiraling mark-marking suggests a frenetic energy and chaos.
Angela Blakely and David Lloyd look at the difficulty of the lives of Australian children and their attempts to cope by huffing paint.
Other artists include Bill Platz, Debra Porch, Jay Younger, Jennifer Herd, Julie Fragar, Marian Drew, Pat Hoffie, and Sebastian Di Mauro.