Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Brisbane Art: Eugene Carhesio exhibition at Queensland Art Gallery until February 1 2009

I've gone and had a look at the "Someone's Universe: The Art of Eugene Carchesio" exibition a couple of times. It's at the Queensland Art Gallery in Southbank until February 1 2009.

I particularly enjoyed the bits of the exhibition that were inspired (according to the curator's notes) by constructivism and futurism. Carchesio does a lot of work with simple things like matchboxes and small paper cones. The notes suggested that using matchboxes is a sign that anyone can do art: they are everywhere, easy to find, and cheap.

There was one big piece which was a yellow sheet of cardboard about 2 metres by 2 metres, covered with small yellow cardboard cones about 15cm away from, each other, called "Test Pattern for Hope" (several of Carchesio's works have this title). According to the notes for the piece, Carchesio left this behind for the staff at a gallery he was allowed to work in while everyone else was away over a summer break. He thought he had a responsibility to leave something for the people in the gallery.

That makes me think of the constructivist's idea that art should not just be for the benefit of the artist, or for "art", but should be something that ordinary people can use and relate to and benefit from. The cones also remind me of the wedges used in Russian art just after the Bolshevik Revolution, such as the famous Civil War propaganda work "Beat The Whites with the Red Wedge":

One piece I especially liked was called "10 Thoughts". This was ten small devices made out of simple electronic components. Each one had a light that flashed on and off. I started loking at it because I thought it was cute, but then started pondering about what thought is. Part of what makes up our thoughts is electrical impulses flashing on and off in the neurons of our brains, which the piece reminded me of.

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