The 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times (11 May–24 November 2019), certainly benefitted from low expectations, given the lacklustre curatorial of the previous edition, when different segments of the show were conceptually framed with titles like 'Pavilion of Joys and Fears' and 'Pavilion of Colours'. Add to this the...
Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into...
The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery),...
The title of Andrew Browne’s new exhibition is taken from the Neil Young/Crazy Horse epic 'Down by the river’, an evocative song of longing and tragedy - part murder ballad and part meandering free-form rock-out.
The same could be said of the seven paintings that make up the show: melancholic yet strangely beautiful.
A Riverbank (culvert, detritus and apparitions) is a tour de force. A nine-metre-long landscape, it brings a number of disparate images together to create an immersive space, its horizontal flow echoing that of the river and ending with a logjam of accumulated material.
While much of Browne's previous work has been imbued with a sense of foreboding, Down by the river shows the reverse: the aftermath of a chaos that now sweeps through his canvases.
‘Maybe these paintings are partly an ode to the troubled environment’, says Andrew Browne, as well as ‘a formal investigation of the banal.’
The river of my ‘Down by the river’ isn’t a specific place but a distillation of a number of places - real, imagined and contrived. In some paintings the river is only hinted at, as if the viewer has turned his back on it to get a closer view of some detail or those accumulations of various matter that have found at least a temporary resting place or foothold.
One painting depicts a balloon snagged in an eddy of floating detritus. ‘It strikes me,’ says Browne, ‘as full of pathos. That usually celebratory (or at least sentimental) object fated to drift, wrenched from its usual ‘happy’ context becomes a banal form memorialised in its damp fate!'
These paintings continue a focus on inner-city waterways, marginal spaces and the peripheral. Whereas typical scenes of riverbanks and suburban waterways are often presented as pleasant idylls and places of quiet reverie, the images here suggest a sense of anxiety, displacement and blurring of forms; of tranquil environs transformed by troubled and contingent relationships.
Lair is the wild card in the exhibition, a startling trompe l'oeil painting depicting a hoarding kicked through to expose an evil smiley face. With detritus, moss and a general dampness at its base it suggests a canal edge with perhaps a verdant landscape beyond. Down by the river reveals a painter in his prime – an artist who encourages us to drift down the waterway of urban reality. Down by the river continues Andrew Browne’s ongoing interest in natural and built environments. It flows out of Horizon, his recent survey show at Gippsland Art Gallery.
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