Fiona Hall is one of Australia’s most accomplished, innovative and individual artists and has been selected to represent Australia at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Fiona Hall has worked across a range of art forms: from sculpture, painting and installation to video work, public commissions and horticulture.
Her work is remarkable for its meticulousness and beauty, and for its transformation of everyday, inconsequential items – aluminium cans, paper, plastic, soap and other detritus – into objects of exquisite beauty and historical and contemporary resonance.
Hall’s overriding interest is the complex relationship between humans and the natural world, and her works have variously addressed colonialism, consumerism, globalisation, natural history and the environment – important issues yet ones that are engaged with in always alluring, alchemical form.
Veneer, Hall’s most recent series, is perhaps the most urgent of her works in its forewarning of the dire consequences of our continued destruction of the natural world. Comprising a series of paintings on tapa (or barkcloth), Veneer depicts a murky, dystopian world – an apocalyptic wasteland strewn with felled trees and human skulls. Yet despite the magnitude of the devastation, the paintings are compelling rather than heavy handed, infused with the very materiality – wood, bark, earth, fire, ash and smoke – of the environment they depict.
Skulls – a recurring symbol in Hall’s work – abound in Veneer, where they line up ghoulishly as if in a mass grave, merge with the rings of cut-down trees, or dissolve into the works’ wood-grain painted surface. The implication is clear: rampant environmental destruction leads to death.
Claire Armstrong, June 2014.
Press release courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.