By Belinda Hermawan for Seesaw Magazine
See the original article here
STALA CONTEMPORARY’s collection of artistic responses to pandemic-induced isolation is a must-see, as not just a snapshot but a call to persevere.
As Perth continues to emerge from COVID-19 isolation, STALA CONTEMPORARY has reopened with a group exhibition that is truly of the moment: looking back at what was, what is and what will now be. Featuring paintings and sculptures created in confinement, the exhibition is a testament to the resilience of creative practice in times of upheaval.
The interrogation of our “new normal” is a central theme, both in recognising what is new to us and what becomes new through the lens of lockdown. Alex Maciver conjures a sense of pained unreality and disruption in his vivid, abstracted paintings, with his three subjects of a person, a landscape and a desktop computer reflecting how our spheres were reduced to the interior, the exterior and the digital during lockdown.
Marcia Espinosa’s two white sculptures, Detachment and Noise, tangle in cords and cables but suggest a prevailing blankness and disconnect. A blue-lit video call on a laptop does little to brighten the desaturated home scene in Michelle Hyland’s oil painting Transacting Boundaries, with the callers remaining indistinct. The relative size of an iPhone is emphasised in Ellen Norrish’s oil painting In between coats, reflecting how minimised and finite social interactions become during lockdown.
In looking at the pandemic response on a larger scale, society finds itself between a rock and a hard place in balancing public health and the economy. In what is the exhibition’s true highlight, Britt Mikkelsen’s breathtaking sculptural work suspends miniature human figures in resin between two layers of stone. Its relic or fossil-like quality implies that this is a cross-section of society; humanity preserved in amber, underground and safe yet also trapped by what lies above.
The sharks in the sky in Liam Dee’s acrylic paintings suggest the virus is not our only enemy, circling back to the structure of our cities and modern priorities. Shark Boat is a standout piece, it’s game-like feel especially fitting, a level of Tetris on an ever-moving vehicle up in the night sky. It’s a precarious, awe-inspiring, impossible balancing act.
It may be too early to fully unpack what we are going through. Tori Benz’s paired drawings and paintings speak to layers of experience: construction and deconstruction of images, one manmade, one natural. Yet even with the horrors and uncertainty, these works suggest that beauty can exist.
Denise Pepper takes the humble face mask and adds flowers and luminescence, as if to say the party can go ahead – as long as safety is a priority.
I strongly recommend STALA CONTEMPORARY’s exhibition as a time capsule of a dynamic sort: not just a snapshot but a call to persist, wherever we are in our respective timelines.