Qualia exhibition, Mils gallery 2010
Qualia– the subjective qualities of conscious experience –
Ernest Aaron, Ella Condon, Nicola Walkerden, Aaron Lippincott, Katie Lees
Curated by Ernest Aaron, Ella Condon, Nicola Walkerden
14-28 April, 2010 Mils Gallery
Review by Bridie Connell:
‘Qualia’ is a philosophical term used to describe the subjective qualities of conscious experience, and is the title of a group exhibition, Qualia – The Subjective Qualities of Conscious Experience, showcasing the work of emerging Sydney artists Ernest Aaron, Ella Condon, Aaron Lippincott, and Nicola Walkerden, at Mils Gallery in Surry Hills. Featuring a tightly curated selection of paintings, photographic, sculptural and installation based works and an opening night performance by Kasia, Qualia highlights the diverse talents of five individuals interested in communicating and encouraging experiences of consciousness with an active audience.
Combining a formal art education and links to street art with a dedicated interest in the psychology of perception, Ernest Aaron’s black-on-white abstract paintings, created using stencils and aerosol paints, are instantly striking and put an urban spin on retro Op art aesthetics. Repetitive rows of diagonal lines and thin stripes trick and tantalise the eye (Untitled, 2010), whilst a silhouetted crowd scene emerges camouflage-style from a patterned surface (Untitled, 2008), and symmetrical inkblots provide Rorschach-style abstract stimuli (Untitled, 2009), open to audience projection and interpretation.
Similarly Aaron Lippincott’s sound installation An Empirical Study of Continuity provides a platform for projection and interpretation, however in this instance the abstract stimulus is aural rather than visual. A brilliant blue dentist chair positioned beneath mezzanine stairwell provides a space to sit and listen through headphones to a recording of single, sustained, computer-generated sounds. Ranging from nauseatingly dull drones to uncannily familiar hums and raining static, the diversity of sounds Lippincott presents is undoubtedly reflected in the diversity of listener responses.
Threaded through the mezzanine stairwell railing and connecting with a small ceramic torso is a soft French-knitted woollen umbilical cord (Body, 2009) by Nicola Walkerden. Combining personal and borrowed narratives and displaying an expressive interest in the female form and notions of female experience, Walkerden’s hand-made mixed media works are in direct contrast to the minimalist abstractions of Aaron and Lippincott. Deconstructed ceramic torsos (Pocket Full of Secrets and Humpty Dumpty), are shown alongside an Emin-esque appliquéd quilt (Body as Landscape, revolting against your pollution) and naively rendered colour dreamscapes (Rainy Day and Puzzled), highlight varying psychological states and draw awareness to fragility and redeeming strength of the human condition.
Also displaying an interest in the strengths and limitations of the human condition is photographer Ella Condon, however unlike Walkerden, Condon’s focus is on representations of the physical rather than expressions of the psychological. Her current body of work, the Skins Series, focuses specifically on skin – the protective yet sensitive outer layer of all living things and the site on the body which registers the sensation of touch and displays outward signs of aging and decay. Close-up images of eyelashes printed on gently crushed paper (Crushed) are delicately beautiful, however the sensually ambiguous images of fungi comprising the tryptic Skins #1, #2, and #3 are most commanding. Taken at close range and printed onto sheet metal, adding a luminosity and sleekness at odds with the organic subject matter, the fingers and surfaces of the fungi mimic the lines of the human form and give only clues to their origin – just as Qualia – The Subjective Qualities of Conscious Experience provides only a hint of the work to come from these talented young artists.
Bridie Connell, 2010.
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Review by – Bridie Connell.