Art can be thought of as a visual experience that stimulates or provokes aesthetic responses and prompts thoughts about social and cultural issues that affect our common existence. In the Young Guns exhibition, five young artists living in very different locales interpret personal vistas of mind, place and memory.

Initially Young Guns was the working title for a show that would give focus to the diverse talents of a number of the gallery's new emerging artists - Emma Gale, Cate Maddy, Christian Morrow, Jack Pemble and Carolyn V Watson. The term ‘young gun' resonates a certain brashness of spirit with raw, explosive outcomes! Of the works in this show, perhaps only the turbulent, visceral portraits by 23 year old Jack Pemble could properly be construed as the product of a ‘young gun'. The paintings of other artists might reveal a more measured, contemplative view of reality, but nonetheless, they are powerful catalysts into other modes of seeing and being.

Jack Pemble

A final year student at Brisbane's QCA, Jack Pemble paints strange boneless portraits with seemingly uncontrolled but immensely descriptive gestures. His desperado-like immersion in the processes of painting earned him an inclusion in the 2007 Metro Art Award as its youngest ever finalist. Blatantly confrontational, Pemble's subversive portraits of Christ, Rimbaud, Jenny Watson, Lady Gaga and the Lacey Boys assault our senses and psyches in order to expose what he believes is "the psycho-social, chemical, biological and electromagnetic manipulation of human consciousness". Employing an expressionism reminiscent of Soutine and de Kooning, Jack Pemble transforms the human countenance into a series of convulsive rhythms. Using fingers and anything else at hand, his subjects are smeared onto the canvas in a completely sensuous commingling of paint, image and feeling. It is as if we are seeing the portraits through viscous, thick undulating air. Dissolved in a frenzy of painterly abstraction, the division between self and other seems to have melted.

Carolyn V Watson

Also Brisbane-based and QCA trained, Carolyn V Watson explores the merging of self and other through an anthropomorphism of the feral animal. Brought up on the Tales of Aesop, her early interest in allegory and empathy for animals now finds voice in her art. Rabbit, deer, fox and crow imagery has become the conduit through which she conveys her observations of human foibles. Watson's current body of work titled, "it's not all I'd hoped for", extends her four year visual investigation into the notion of man as variously prey, hunter, scavenger and voyeur. Multi-gifted, she pursues these themes in drawings, paintings and astounding 3D works made from polymer clay, felt, bone, fur and feathers. Possessing a rare sensibility to both subject and process, Carolyn Watson interprets meaning in the subtle, subliminal signals that betray intent and motivation. In a transference of body language, the animals she depicts become psychological portraits of flawed humanity. Something aware and knowing informs the gestures and expressions of these creatures bound by external circumstance and inner frailties. It is hoped that in viewing Carolyn Watson's intensely poignant works we might conversely recognise, "the primitive animal instincts lurking within our own depths, just waiting to slide past a conscious moment." i. Beth Cavenar Stitcher

Emma Gale

Despite the bold spontaneity of her brush, there is no trace of existential dilemma, or ‘smoking gun', to be found in Emma Gale's paintings. Unassumingly titled ‘everyday', Gale's current body of work seeks instead to isolate and hold those moments that make up a day in a little village set amidst the rolling hills of Northern NSW. Having trained at the Julian Ashton School of Art, Sydney and East Sydney Technical College, Emma Gale has discovered that the space and pace of country living allows her works to evolve in accord with the rhythms of the natural landscape. The unhurried cadence of Emma Gale's own words enhances our visual engagement with her pared-back imagery: "I wanted to paint simply what was in front of me. The paddock - my backyard - has a small group of cows and two horses. I watch them every day. Where are they? Are they wet? Are they dry? Are they sleepy? I have a special love for these creatures, their size and their handsome looks, their strength. I always have time to watch them. I like to show the quirky side, the vulnerable side, the soft side to these huge, hard to get close to, masculine animals. These works are my house, my kitchen, my studio. What I see every day. They are domestic but real. They are personal yet not personal. I have simply drawn what I see with the paintbrush. Mistakes and all are left to show the workings, to show the process. The raw state. Simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve."

Christian Morrow 

Christian Morrow studied at the Sydney College of the Arts and went on to be a founding member, guitarist and lyricist for the bands, The Numbers and The Maybe Dolls, with whom he recorded and toured Australia and the USA. Now residing in the rural haven of Bangalow, Christian Morrow's days of a ‘young gun' lifestyle must seem far behind him. A slower tempo has afforded him the chance to reflect - to once again explore his "totemic-like, boyhood visions." The product of such rumination is an ongoing body of work that revisits his childhood fascination with aerpolanes as symbols of innovation, danger, wonder, adventure and escape. Christian explains his initial impetus to create pictures of flying machines, "They began as a series about the model planes and gliders my father (a former engineer for Qantas) had made and my memories of them suspended in the sky, their frames translucent against the sun. I've only recently realised what a huge visual impact these experiences had on my life and how powerful the subject matter was." There is a certain physicality to much of Christian's image-making. In his assemblage pieces, new and reclaimed materials are subjected to a range of industrial processes. Applied layers of paint are scraped back, adjusted and reapplied over a period of days, months and sometimes years. In contrast, his works on canvas shimmer with light, colour and quite extraordinary calligraphic detail. The extent of Christian Morrow's creative ability is revealed in the delicately painted lines that articulate the structure of his planes and the wonderfully cursive script of the accompanying annotations.

Cate Maddy

Living in another of the nation's capitals, Melbourne-based Cate Maddy creates beautiful artificial worlds to assuage her longing for nature and escape the rigors of an increasingly commodified existence. "The works aims to create a dialogue between silences and spaces", muses Maddy, "they are landscapes of shapes and shadows which hint at many different meanings." A symphonic orchestration of colour and shape, her landscapes are not intended to evoke recognition but rather the essence of a moment in time. Like half remembered truths or dreams, multi-hued forms rise rhythmically to the surface and then subside. Commenting on the emotive aspects of her work, Maddy explains, "The heightened colour and drama are influenced by the Romantic period and its notions of the sublime, the abyss and other transcendental representations of Nature." She continues with a description of her creative processes. "I collect colour combinations like other people collect trinkets. I cut and paste the original imagery, rendering it in a less defined, yet persuasive way. I like my markings to be ‘once removed' from the original. An image may look like a splash of paint, a biomorph or a tree branch, but in fact is a hand-painted ‘trace'. I layer the shapes largely by making them respond to certain factors in the picture itself. Contrast is important: hard and soft edges, dark and light tone, opaque and translucent paint. When the work is alive and has a voice of its own, I stop. The finished work is always a surprise compared with the notion with which I began." Cate Maddy's wonderful, colour-saturated paintings manifest a remarkable elegance and sophistication of technique - her prodigious talent gaining early recognition in the award of a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction from RMIT, as well as the RMIT & Siemen's Travel Scholarship which she utilized to visit New York.


» Back to previous page