Photo credit: André Piguet
A BILLION BUCKS
Opening Thursday 17 November 6-8pm
Exhibition Friday 18 October – Saturday 17 December 2016
The Honeymoon Suite is pleased to announce the opening of A Billion Bucks. The exhibition is curated by Justin Hinder and Charlotte Cornish and includes artwork by Catherine Clayton-Smith, Jessica Curry, Marc Etherington, Tony Garifalakis, Matthew Harris, Katherine Hattam, Lou Hubbard, John Meade, Dan Moynihan, Andrew Read and Kristina Toulis-Rey.
A Billion Bucks is the second iteration of a curatorial project by Justin Hinder. This exhibition follows on from the project’s first iteration A Million Bucks that Hinder presented at Utopian Slumps in 2013.
A Million Bucks originated as a wry response to a peculiar check-up with Hinder’s doctor. He had visited in the hope of finding a cure for his aching toenail, but instead received unwarranted advice based on the doctor’s stigmatised ideas about a gay man’s lifestyle. Hinder reflected on the interaction by presenting a future version of himself through an exhibition – an idealised life in a pseudo-domestic setting. For the exhibition, he selected artists that he had formed ties with or artworks that he had a desire to possess, to instate an art promiscuity in place of a sexual one.
For A Billion Bucks Hinder and Charlotte Cornish have collaborated within The Honeymoon Suite to create an idealised dwelling that the two might share. A Billion Bucks includes artists and artworks that consider notions of domesticity, nostalgia, desire, possession and the self. The exhibition oscillates between perceived realities and escapist tendencies that are prevalent in contemporary life, hinting at materialistic tendencies, the culture of self-worship and indulgence and the need to be discerning with institutional and mediated messaging. There are also injections of humour and nostalgia, that things become more significant when they are personal, and as a perceptive tool this is important.
What inscribes work or an object with value? The exhibition proposes that objects are imbued with value only when they are meaningful to you, and if they’re not, well; they might as well be a billion bucks.
Catherine Clayton-Smith’s draws from mediated images, personal observations and memory to investigate the ways in which these elements interact. Her paintings reveal a process that oscillates between figuration and abstraction, such as in S.P (drycleaners/Klimt) (2016) where multiple references coalesce within the layers, or in Column (2016) the suggestion of a houseplant on the left side of a work offering a grounding figurative element to a largely abstract painting. For Clayton-Smith, the interaction between our personal observations and our memory mirrors the ways in which we interpret images through the combined spaces of the digital and the real.
Jessica Curry investigates the notion of desire that is embedded within consumerist culture. Curry is particularly interested in the way current consumption practices create an absent ideal – one that can leave a user seeking something that is unattainable. She considers how the effects of strategies such as subliminal messaging can operate between an object and a consumer, and how the messaging often pursues a line of thought that is beyond an object’s qualities. Curry’s practice often blurs the line between what is real and what is fake or idealised, with a particular focus on the fetishist treatment of objects. Her new work All These Damn Reflections (2016) – a saturation of mirrored and muted surfaces – embodies tropes of self-reflection, vanity and emancipation. There is a suggestion that at the root of pleasure-seeking or individualistic tendencies is emptiness, however her work also speaks to the need for self-reflection and discernment.
Marc Etherington’s paintings often depict narratives that are from his everyday life or childhood memory. The references are drawn from both real life and popular culture fiction – his subject matter can range from a movie scene in Jurassic Park, to a wrestling match with Hulk Hogan, to an interior of his home or an arbitrary situation that he encountered. Etherington often renders the banal through a humourous and sometimes absurd lens, recording situations with lightness and amusing detail, as seen in both Home is where the weird shit is (2016) and I dropped my hotdog on the carpet. When it stops raining I will run to Costco and get another one (2015). In depicting scenes and characters from movies in the same way that he depicts scenes from his life, Etherington’s paintings suggest that contemporary life and popular culture fiction are closely intertwined, interchangeable and similarly noteworthy.
Tony Garifalakis’ practice over the past two decades has examined social relations and the semiotics of power. His work particularly engages the ways in which the meaning of signs, symbols and images might be ascribed, conveyed or transformed through culture, and how conventional notions of hierarchy and status might be undermined or subverted. Garifalakis interrogates social, political, artistic and religious systems of belief, as well as the institutions that uphold them. His Affirmations series is a body of work that explores the belief systems underpinning both New Age movements and gun culture groups, where gun targets produced in the United States become the poster boys for overtly positive affirmations, the contrast acting to emphasize the extremity of both. Alongside is a new lithograph work titled Scum, the ominous words floating in a sea of sepia clouds. While the clouds suggest a religious connotation, the statement is universally demeaning and applicable to many institutions (and people) that instate power.
Matthew Harris’ practice can be understood as a wry disruption to the familiar. He is interested in the everyday and often a mundane image or circumstance will be the starting point for his subject matter. Bathroom Floor (2016) is an appropriation of his studio apartment bathroom floor in Rae Street, Fitzroy North, which was infested with cockroaches when he moved in. The bathroom floor pattern doubles as a coy replica of Piet Mondrian’s Composition work, a lauded masterpiece within the art history canon that Harris has miniaturised, overly replicated and made verminous. Home Alone (2015) also similarly intervenes both his domestic experience and a larger piece of art history. Harris created this work in solitude at home during winter last year – appropriating Edvard Munch’s The Scream, a work that sold for $119,933,500 USD (the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction), and creating a monochrome wall tapestry. There is a darkness disguised within Harris’ humour, as rending these ‘masterpieces’ within his practice brings into question their ‘real’ value.
Katherine Hattam’s practice is autobiographical and often concurrently examines themes of feminism, domesticity, motherhood and psychology. Dog with dots (2015) is a print from a series that takes her dogs as the subject matter. Katherine’s dogs reoccur in her work; her eldest son Charlie could no longer look after them, so Katherine took them under her wing. The nurturing gesture to offer foster to her son’s dogs is made more poignant through her work, where it is made clear that they are now an important part of her life. The other work by Katherine Hattam in this exhibition is a collaborative piece made with her son William Mackinnon. In the fun house (2007) was originally created for Under the Influence an exhibition held at Warrnambool Art Gallery in 2007-2008. The exhibition focused on landscape painter Eugene Von Guérard’s interpretation of Tower Hill (1855), an area close to Warrnambool, which actually used Von Guérard’s painting as a reference when they re-forested the area. The notion of mother-son collaboration is an endearing concept in itself, yet formally, the painting embodies a dynamic domestic environment influenced in equal measure by Katherine and William’s painterly techniques, perceptions and memories. There a number of other references too, including the bathroom from son and brother Charlie’s house in Port Fairy, wallpaper influenced by Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings and a reinterpretation of a work by Rover Thomas.
Lou Hubbard’s practice focuses on training and submission, and adopts the aesthetics of sentimentality. Hubbard’s sculptures often use materials of basic domestic and institutional utility in her work, however the materials she employs have become personal through how they have been used in her life. She tries and tests these different materials, then shapes them into formal relationships with one another, and emotional resonances are drawn out through the careful selection and placement of these found and readily-at-hand objects. Her new sculptural assemblage, Sunday Best (2016), is composed of a coat that belonged to her husband’s grandmother hanging on a hook with a miniaturised horse head, an effect that is both menacing and amusing in equal measure. Wearing your Sunday best is often a phrase connoted with religion and the institution of the church; the work could be read as a suggestion to rethink the established rules and supremacy of such an institution.
John Meade works in an intuitive way to materialise his ideas, creating tightly composed sculptural assemblages that explore the metaphysical, the surreal and the erotic. In Meade’s new work Honeymoon Hitching Post (2016) he adopts the structure of a hitching post with a saddle like object resting atop. The object is appropriated from a Panton chair, an ‘S’ shaped futuristic streamline design, by Verner Panton in 1960, which became the first moulded plastic chair to be reproduced in large quantities. The work embodies both the notion of mass-produced design objects and that of the unique or original embedded within artistic production. Prior to the excess, hedonism and materialism associated with the 1980s, the context for design was arguably more conscious and progressive but less-consumer driven. Melding design objects into art objects, Meade renders the mass-produced unique again.
Dan Moynihan’s practice adopts a wry sense of humour to explore notions of personal and public judgement. There is a modest, almost self-deprecating, quality to his work – whereby an artwork either acknowledges or wholly becomes the punctuation of its own joke. His meticulously constructed objects are at times self-referential, such as in Moynihan’s new work Momento (2016) – a life size bronze cast of his big toe with an ingrown toenail atop a tall black plinth. He had to have his toenail removed due to it being ingrown and painful, but decided to cast it prior, to memorialise how it once looked in this strange state. Moynihan’s bronze toe is placed on a pedestal; a gesture that enables the unusual and personal to become modestly monumental.
Andrew Read’s practice is informed by an interest in forcing images to reconcile with physical space and objects. His work often takes on the form of a collage or assemblage, where various elements ranging from the completely arbitrary to the highly personal, are constructed into a dialogue with the other. Read’s new work Untitled (flowers) (2016) is an assemblage that incorporates a rubber, rear bumper protector – an object Read found ubiquitous in the New York City area – and an image from his personal archive. Read found that this bumper object was an out-of-control marketed trend in New York City, the flimsy almost malleable object doing little to protect any real collision that a car may have – akin to a couch wrapped in plastic. The work suggests that being protective and precious about certain objects is perhaps not as important as other things in our life.
Kristina Tsoulis-Reay’s paintings document her family life. The three intimately scaled paintings in the exhibition Spiral Perm (2016), Sleeping bag (2014) and Holding Pattern (2016) are snapshot-like observations, tender moments and memories, suggestive of a traditional family photograph that has been injected with Tsoulis-Reay’s own emotion and perceptions through her painterly process.