art is life. Life is weird.
It was the first truly cold evening of Autumn. I went out in it to see art anyway.
The first exhibition was at Printmaker Gallery on Brunswick st, Fitzroy.
Noirscapes By Paul Compton is a collection of delicate and very gentle collages that are small enough to inspire close scrutiny and deliberate contemplation that is not without whimsy. It felt whimsical to stare at these small works of art and make up stories for them. They made you think of black and white movies and cloak and dagger goings on. I found myself wandering around the collection at least four times. I did not want to miss any details.
One of works Secret Seer looked to me like a simple cuff of a white shirt with a fist coming out the bottom of the sleeve. When I got closer it became apparent that I was mistaken. The image was actually made up of two cut out images. The fist was acually a muscular male torso with the neck disappearing into the second cut out image, which was not a white shirt cuff, but two white pillows that were positioned in such a way as to trick the eye. It was so well priced that I considered buying it. It sparked my imagination and tickled my funny bone. The image really asked more questions than it answered. Something great art can do.
One of the dark and dreamy linocuts printed by Andrew Gunnel showed three small white ghost like apparitions dancing on the back of a grey rabbit like creature ghost. The creatures looked like they were inhabiting the deepest and darkest part of a forest. It was so dark the trees are invisible in the frame. The work is entitled Hadith. Hadith refers to a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad. It is a major source of guidance for Muslims that is in addition to the Koran. I find the work mysterious and beautiful as I stand in front of it without knowing what the title refers to. It remains beautiful and mysterious when I know what the title could be referring to.
The second art exhibition for the evening is Gemma Flack’s pop up art show and sale at The Goodness Bureau in Thornbury. The show is called Everything Is Not OK But I hOpe You Will Be. There are small works on paper done in coloured pen and ink. The works are affordable and some have very important messages for fello artists and creatives alike. The exhibition is a call to arms for self motivated woman everywhere and woman who need to be nudged a little bit. Gemma Flack wants you to be OK. It is ok if you are not, though.
There are a couple of particularly pleasing illustrations that are done with Jetstar sick bags as the canvas. The juxtaposition of all the images that fill the surface of the sick bag canvas create a sense of joy and vibrancy along with the unspoken mantra that is under every pen line: Do not waste any time.
Some of the women in Gemma’s work are solo wolf packs who need nobody and no one. Like my favourit work that is a black gouache on board. It shows a young woman with long black hair and get bak eyes sitting in front of a window. I can imagine wanting to be friends with all the woman in Gemma’s creations. It would make a great movie. Gemma creates all these works and they come to life one night after all the art lovers have gone home. At first it is amazing and the illustrations come to life make wonderful friends and it is a girl gang of all inclusive wonder.
Then the murders begin. Men of course. Bad men.
I eventually decide on one to purchase. It is a small illustration of a womans face with the words IM ENOUGH underneath.
I plan to place the small framed image on my desk so it can be a constant source of calm to me as I work at becoming what I want to be: Brilliant.
On the tram home I am sitting up the front. Across from me sit two young women of about 19 or 18. I can see the one sitting nearest to me. She is wearing black leggings that are slitted so that you get a line of black and then some bare flesh that s at the mercy of the cold damp night outside. The one with dyed red hair and black leggings is doing the most talking. Her friend is listening and saying the occasional softly spoken ‘ah’ and laughing softly.
I decide to keep my head phones in my ears but do not blast Childish Gambino as I was planning. I sit and stare straight ahead and listen. There is a steady stream of conversation or stories really. Conversation involves two people exchanging ideas. This is not a conversation I am hearing. It is a narrative of woe. The young woman is talking about a time at a pub with a group of men who want her to show them her ‘tits’ She does not want to do that. They keep asking and badgering her. A friend at this juncture knows there is a photo of said friend’s breasts on said friend’s phone. This friend (not on the tram) gets the phone and shows the men he picture on her friend’s phone. The young woman telling the story is not upset of even worried. She simply describes how the group of men got very quiet after seeing the picture of the young women’s breasts. One of the men simply told her the breasts were very nice.
There was an ex who used to beat up this young woman. He is an ice addict who is now dating a 17 year old that the two young women on the tram know. There is a young man who is not allowed to wear a shirt if he is in her bedroom. The rule applies to her too so its not one sided. There is no talk of anything but men and boys. It makes my heart hurt to listen. I want to say something so badly. I just don’t know what. Anything I try and say would just come across as patronizing and the ramblings of a crazy stranger on the tram. Young women have no idea how strong they are.
When they get of at Palace Cinemas and step out into the dark damp night. It is raining steadily. I find myself saying a silent prayer to a collection of omnipresent representation of illustrated women by Gemma Flack, that they get home safe and sound. Not just tonight but always. I also prayed that they realized male attention is not the only thing that can give their life value.