|Billy Gruner, New Work for a Failed System, no’s 8-12, 2017,|
Gold Gesso and Acrylic on Wood, 28 x 35 cm x 5 pieces.
Kyle Jenkins, Celare Monochrome Series #9-13, 2017,
each work acrylic on canvas, 45 x 45 cm.
Roadie Punk Paintings
February 1 – 18
Five Walls Projects, Footscray
Billy Gruner and Kyle Jenkins have worked together since their PhD days and were invited to launch the new project space at Five Walls, a Melbourne gallery committed to reductive art. Symbolically the very first exhibition at Five Walls was also by Jenkins and Gruner.
Gruner refers to his own works and that of his long-time collaborator Jenkins, as Post-Formalist in this 21st Century. Both artists acknowledge a legacy to the Punk and Conceptual Art movements of the 1970s in the exhibition notes. The text goes on to state the seventies was a time of great social unrest and ‘upheaval’ against an established austere conservativism. The London Garbage Strikes under Thatcherism and the later Brixton Riots being two examples.
The materials, ‘sacred’ colour, and use of an articulated architectural line by Gruner in ‘New Work for a Failed System’ reference Gothic icon painting. Celare is Latin for ‘hide’ or ‘to conceal’ and Jenkins', Romanesque ‘Celare Monochrome Series’ refutes definition. Together the works and gallery text suggest a discontent with the current seemingly return to right-wing conservatism. A darkness, perhaps a medieval one as Gruner alludes to, is falling as century old traditions of methods and research post-Renaissance are challenged including the authenticity of science and journalism. ‘The System is Failing’ not only for global culture but for contemporary discourse in abstraction post-20th Century.
The references to pre-Renaissance painting are fitting methodologies for both artists. Historically, many of the Modernist abstractionists including Rothko, researched medieval art as a pathway to Abstraction.
Individually Gruner and Jenkins have shown extensively throughout the world and founded artist project spaces including SNO (Sydney Non Objective) Art. They have also curated and locally collaborated with like minded artists in Europe producing touring group shows of Australian art including ‘Australia – Contemporary Non Objective Art’ held at GKG in Bonn, 2008.
Thanks to Billy Gruner for editing assistance.