1 TO 23 APRIL 2017
After Nature explores the possibilities of contemporary Vanitas painting. Broaching themes of death and temporality, these works reflect on conditions of contemporary living, cultural contrivances and the nature of human existence. Positing a radically condensed synopsis of human civilisation, these painting mise-en-scènes draw on tragic-comic, personal and idiosyncratic motifs alongside appropriations from art history, in lieu of traditional iconography attributed to the genre.
After Nature should be read as a body of work in search of a secular Vanitas rather than a resolved idea set. The exhibition presents two tenets of recent work: the initial iterations explore the vanities of individualism and persuasion of cultural dictates, whereas later works deviate away from the individual towards the universal.
Provoked by the Vanitas dictum, Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas (“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity), early paintings from this series such as Vanity Fair (2016), Life goals (2016) and Tension meter (2016) feature superimposed gymnasium apparatus, chains and metal poles over representations of 17th century Dutch still lifes. These impossible bouquets, a culturally constructed arrangement wherein the flora depicted cannot bloom simultaneously, allude to bourgeoning middle-class wealth and the first manifestations of market capitalism. In this body of work such bouquets act as a stand in for the absurdity and constructedness of cultural suppositions; namely measures of achievement attained by the individual, whether they ascribe to conventional beauty standards, competitive success or wealth aspirations. The inorganic punctuations formally bisecting the background vegetation allude to the impossibility of fulfilling contemporary cultural dictates with an irreverent tragicomic humour.
Works created in 2017 develop a language away from the myopia of individual experience contrarily adopting a hyperopic vision of human experience. Condensing past, present and future; nature, culture and universal death, motifs of circular voids, solar eclipses, celestial bodies and black holes punctuate these later works. Paintings such as The sense of an ending (2017), Deep space, small death (2017) and Eclipse (2017) present an atheistic Vanitas, with a quiet nihilist humour. Abridging the full spectrum of human experience in to three tenets, these works flout any reference to modernity and in doing so reflect on the absurdity of our current socio-cultural landscape and the temporality of our time.
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Berlin based Karla Marchesi holds Bachelor of Fine Art (2004) and Honours in Fine Art (2007) degrees from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, where she received the University Medal for academic excellence and the Honours Thesis Prize. Marchesi received the Philip Bacon Galleries Prize for Excellence in Drawing in 2003, enabling her to study for a semester at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, US. Marchesi has held solo exhibitions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. In 2012 she undertook a studio residency at Atelierhaus Mengerzeile, Berlin that preceeded her first international solo exhibition at Kunsthalle M3, Berlin. She has subsequently participated in a number of international group exhibitions. Marchesi is a recipient of the 1st Prize in the Redland Art Awards (2010), the Wilson Visual Arts Award (2012) and an Australia Council for the Arts Early Career New Work Grant (2013). Her work is included in a number of public collections including The University of Queensland Art Musueum and several regional galleries.