Victoria Reichelt’s painting practice investigates objects and ideas that are threatened by redundancy, largely due to advances in digital technologies. Reichelt is a masterful painter and her medium enforces her message, each of her images is painstakingly rendered in stunning detail.
The paintings in Precipice follow on from earlier works that considered the growing obsolescence of libraries and archives. For this exhibition Reichelt takes ordinary objects related to practical tools used in office record keeping and educational environments, strips them of their context and presents them in a fresh tableaux. These items, which were at one time essential to rational organization and workplace efficiencies, are facing redundancy as we turn our backs more and more on the analogue, in favor of the digital.
These once useful implements become signs of failure, their relevance and practicality all but lost as we witness the decline of traditional record keeping and knowledge gathering, in favor of more efficient methods. Piles of papers and folders sitting in mountains on desks that used to speak to their creator’s diligence, are now replaced with invisible information that follows us around wherever we go, calling to be addressed at all hours.
These paintings also consider the gallery space as another site of change, with the rise of the pop-up, the art fair and the digital as ways of displaying visual art. The objects are gathered and presented on plinths in various gallery settings, as a way of recognizing and privileging these ordinary objects that may one day be more relic than ubiquitous. The objects take on almost organic and sculptural forms as they rest on plinths, symbolic of the visible signs of business fast disappearing from the work landscape. Traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture are called into question in this new context, and so the works acknowledge the age-old questioning of the medium in which they are presented.
Reichelt’s work is featured on the cover of the current issue of Art Collector, marking the magazines 20th Anniversary. Louise Martin-Chew writes about her work, “as always in Reichelt’s work, we are intrigued by the tension between what may be real, and what is not. The final works in the show see nature creeping back into the picture, with red dots that indicate an art sale located on lush thick grass titled Thicket. The fundamental conflict between the increasing fiction that is our digital construction and the reality of the earth and its environment is signalled here.” These paintings remind us that the precipice of our future is not only the possibility of being overtaken by the digital constructs that we have created, but also by the unpredictable forces of an environment that we struggle to control.
Reichelt studied Fine Art at the Queensland College of Art, graduating in 2005 having completed her Doctor of Visual Arts. In 2013 she won the Sulman Art Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and she has been short-listed for a number of major art prizes including the John Leslie Art Prize, UQ Artists’ Self Portrait Prize, the Gold Award and the Fletcher Jones Art Prize. She has been awarded an Australia Council New Work Grant and the Linden Innovators Award from the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts. Her work has been included in exhibitions at QAG/GOMA, Linden New Art, UQ Art Museum and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation.
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