Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mixing It Up Down Under

James Gleeson - Australia's foremost Surrealist an exhibition at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. I caught this exhibition on its final day which might give some indication of how much I was looking forward to seeing it. Gleeson is one of my daughters favourite artists and she had timed a visit home so she could see his paintings and mixed media drawings. I couldn't go with her that day and when she came home raving about the eloquence his work and how I would love the way he combined printed images with drawings I listened politely. I knew there would be intestines, and worse, and there was. And lots of them.

There was also other familiar Gleeson themes like the gentle waves on a calm secluded strangely familiar beach, the shells from that beach grown large and bursting with, well, maybe not intestines but something ominously internal. Naked men provide a realistic counterpoint to the wrenching disemboweled images, often sharing the same frame. Surprisingly their full frontal nudity provide the only images of genitalia. These are not latent sexual images from a sick mind.

There is beauty (somehow!) here too. It is the light and the colours the light illuminates, soft emerald greens, rosy pinks and deep magenta (where I feared there would be venous blue, membrane grey and blood red). The wrenching and tearing fails to extinguish hope, but instead seems to open the picture plane to allow entry of hope through the exquisite light. How is that possible?

At this time when I am planning to push my creative boundaries, and have actually allowed play to replace the seriousness I had allowed to creep in, the glow of Gleeson's light reminds me that the creative journey is always individual and that it really is OK to be me, warts, intestines and all. And really if it has served me no other purpose than to remind me to get back to drawing my deck of cards with alternate suits, one of which is body parts, it has served me well. I do believe I was up to the Ace of intestines...

Jan Allsopp is a visual artist living in Coffs Harbour, Australia. Jan will be keeping us in touch with the art scene in coastal New South Wales as well sharing her exploits, as mid-career and mid-life, she decides to change art forms. View Jan's art, read her blog and browse her shop at

1 comment:

Ginger Carlson, author said...

I have a secret ambition to somehow be able to pull paintings off in surrealism. Thanks for sharing Gleeson with us today! I LOVE it!