An Asialink/Heide Museum of Modern Art exhibition toured by NETS Victoria, curated by Zara Stanhope
The world in painting offers a perspective into how Australian artists, from a range of generations and locations, are painting their worlds from domestic interiors to dream-like landscapes. It explores a number of themes including the workings of subjectivity and power, the strangeness and fantasy of the natural world, and the desire to encourage forms of creativity that are accessible to all.
Despite regular forecasts of painting’s demise last century, the medium retains its strong presence, undiminished for thousands of years. Figurative or abstract in imagery, expressive or conceptual in character, painting is everywhere today.
Contemporary artists are well aware of the lengthy history of this medium, and while some pursue established conventions, others develop innovative forms and strategies, challenging the conventions of art. Painting is a response to and illuminates its surroundings, reflecting multiple ways of testing, being in and imagining the world.
The world in painting presents recent work by eight established Australian artists who believe in the strength of their medium as a visual language. Brought together for the first time, these artists hail from both metropolitan and regional areas, span different generations and cultural backgrounds, and employ a range of diverse approaches. Some use painting to explore the zone between reality and fiction in life, or to envision the potential for experiences beyond the self; of an imagined shared humanity, both past and future. Their works comment on contemporary life and its conditions or values, observe the effects of subjectivity and power, and encourage viewers to enact personal forms of creativity.
Many artists today argue that art cannot be solely defined by its medium because meaning and creative potential reside in, or are conveyed, by more than materials and techniques alone. This attitude frees painting to take other material forms, and thus ceramic, plastic and fabric, as well as paint and canvas, are included in this exhibition. Whether connecting to modernism and its history, preserving disappearing narratives, or conveying certain subjectivities arising from our fast-paced, global existence, the works in The world in painting are personal vehicles for contemplating larger realities.