Saint O'Donnell “Select Talks” at Vandal Gallery

Art Pharmacy teamed up with our good friends at Saint O'Donnell to bring together their first “Select Talks” a creative discussion series centred around supporting emerging creatives in Sydney.

St. O’Donnell is a music artist, event, creative and venue management agency.

This time Tom Huggett (Astral People), Alexander Franco (Future Classic) and Tessa Kerans (Stop Start Music) chatted about Artist Management right here in our Vandal gallery space, in Redfern!

Sponsored by the ever generous Jameson's and Young Henry's.

 Tom Huggett (Astral People), Alexander Franco (Future Classic) and Tessa Kerans (Stop Start Music)

Tom Huggett (Astral People), Alexander Franco (Future Classic) and Tessa Kerans (Stop Start Music)

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Pressure Sensitive - Interview

V∆ND∆L Gallery will soon be celebrating the opening night of ‘Pressure Sensitive’, an exhibition by artist Joel Dickens

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“Children unleash scribble in a moment of uninhibited, spontaneous, emotional expression - subconscious, absent-minded and pure.

This is not that.

Here, childlike and spontaneous gestures are constricted by the neuroses of adulthood. The paint never reaches the boundary; staying within the lines. Identity is restricted by the adult ego, and passions are sacrificed to the day-to-day realities of life. Good intentions meet their limitations. A nervous breakdown that you’re not allowed to have.

The paintings are created by laying many layers of paint, before meticulously chipping away to create a calculated expression of hi-key emotional outburst.

The gestural works encapsulate a tension between the modern adult’s state of freedom and imprisonment. Taking flight in a cage.”

Over the past couple of years Joel has experienced a number of confronting events which have both inspired and hindered his practice.

‘Pressure Sensitive’, is a series of works made around these events, the title alluding to this period in the artist’s life. This exhibition at Vandal Gallery will be the first time these new works have been shown as a series, showcasing his new approach and marking a new period in the artist's career.

Art Pharmacy writer, Karl Sagraab sat down with Joel to discuss how he came to create ‘Pressure Sensitive’.

What made you decide you wanted to be a painter?
I saw a photo, when I was about 15, of Guernica hanging at the UN which made an impression on me. It suggested to me, that painting could make a difference in some way, and that's what I wanted to do. It turned out that Guernica was a tapestry copy and that the UN is less than perfect, but at the time it pulled two things together in my mind, art and wanting to make the world a better place. I'm a bit more cynical now but I continue to believe that art can make a difference to people's thinking and that the ripple-effect from one person's interaction with an artwork or book, upon society, can be significant.

Can you describe your practice, your use of medium and material, for the series of works in Pressure Sensitive?
Like most artists I struggle to find the amount of time I would like to paint. I have a family, a house and a day job. In this way the work has a performative aspect to it, inasmuch as it is created within and in reaction to life's events. Time to paint is snatched from the jaws of everyday responsibilities and the work is, in no small way, inspired by this predicament. In terms of medium, I use both acrylic and oil; a number of layers of acrylic underpainting and then an oil layer which I extract the gesture from. The title refers to both the technique of the production and the environment the work is painted in.

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Did you have an underlying theme in mind when creating the works or did they come about individually and come together in exhibition form in the end? In other words, was there a particular inspiration for these works?
The inspiration for each work can differ dramatically. As with previous work, they are painted in reaction to events, be they personal, political or environmental. With this work now, however, there is a greater emphasis on the language, the motif,  which I've spent a few years developing and arriving at. The individual works are painted in their own space and time and in response to a particular event. But the exhibition might be read as a series of diary entries, scribbled utterances, or a cross section sample of one person's existence.

This exhibition is in Sydney but do you have a favourite place to exhibit your works?
I had a couple of exhibitions in Buenos Aires which was exciting. There's a vibrant painting scene there and, for some reason, my work went down well. In terms of where it ends up, my work has been bought for display in foyers and restaurants. It gives me a kick when the work can be seen in public spaces, where the viewers are many and constantly changing.

Are there any painters or artists that inspire or influence you and you work?
The work I'm influenced by is the work that has had the greatest emotional impact on me. I'm a fan of anything that investigates the human condition. There are many artists I like but I have been inspired and influenced by; Pablo Picasso, Franz Klein, Willem De Kooning, Ernst Ludvig Kirchner, Edvard Munch, Kathe Kolwitz, Helen Saunders, Bram van Welde, Graham Sutherland, Alexander Calder, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Sylvia Plath, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. I sometimes feel embarrassed that my influences aren't more obscure, but there you go...

Vandal Gallery will be hosting the opening of Pressure Sensitive on Tuesday 5th of September.

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'Desert Stars' Exhibition Opening

Review by Melanie Booth

On August 10 ‘Desert Stars’ debuted at V∆ND∆L Gallery in Redfern. V∆ND∆L exhibited works from incredibly talented Indigenous Australian artists with a key focus on their connection to the land and the ethics behind exhibiting Aboriginal work.

All works originate from art centres in extremely remote desert communities within Australia, for example Martumili, which is located in the very heart of the Western Desert. The exhibition provides a platform for these usually inaccessible works to be viewed by an urban Sydney audience.

Nichola Dare, the guest curator and owner of Aboriginal Contemporary is one of the lucky few that has earned the trust of some members of these communities in order to gain an understanding of their practice and to form strong, supportive relationships.

The works all share a common theme in their connection to ‘country’, a vital concept for all Aboriginal peoples. According to Dare, “some of the works tell stories of country tens of thousands of years old, others are depictions of country, the locations of tracks, hunting grounds and waterholes.”

Specific care has been taken in the orchestration of this exhibition to engage in ethical practices in displaying the work of these artists within an urban setting. This is a crucial, positive step forward within the Australian art scene in its engagement with, and representation of, art created by remotely located Indigenous people who may have difficulty having their work represented to a city audience.

The event was opened by Sophia DeMestre on behalf of Art Pharmacy, the Welcome to Country was given by Donna Ingram, a Wiradjuri woman and active local community leader, while curator Nichola Dare gave some background on the artists and their works.

MCA X VANDAL Gallery: Ask An Artist Anything

Written by Louisa Tiley

The latest MCA Young Ambassadors event was much more personal than regulars are used to. Hosted by Redfern’s new kid on the block, Vandal Gallery, it was an intimate gathering of artists and art lovers - all curious about the relationship between creatives and their work.

On the night Vandal’s current selection of vibrant artists - Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell and Marnie Ross - played an active role in a private viewing of their exhibition Somewhere Between.

It was a unique evening which endeavoured to break down the often impermeable barrier between artist and audience. To achieve this the three exhibiting artists were part of a speed-dating style session during which attendees could “ask them anything” about their practice, creative process, mentality or career.

A bell was used to signal three minute intervals, when guests rotated to the next artist. However many of the more sneaky patrons ignored it to stay for 6, 9 or 12 minutes, in order to delve further into compelling discussions.

Marnie Ross was the first artist I spoke to. Seated beneath a selection of her bright, graphic paintings, we chatted candidly about how printmaking and design inform her abstract compositions. She is closely influenced by the detail and movement inherent in nature - something strongly evident in the wooden textures of Every Night.

Ariella Friend’s work provided an interesting point of contrast, as three dimensional pieces which challenge the boundaries between painting and sculpture. I loved hearing about her sustainable approach - particularly the way she reuses discarded items alongside new materials to reflect the complexities of consumerism. This was most clear in my favourite of her works, Composition in Metallics.

Joi Murugavell completed the collection. She was wearing one of her signature outfits - a blazer, pants and hat combo printed with her own artwork. I was immediately drawn to her bold, witty paintings, with works such as Bad Art Day and A Small Plot Change cleverly playing with cultural iconography.

It’s interesting to note that all three artists began their creative careers with design backgrounds. Because of this Vandal’s exhibition subtly confronted the stigma against graphic designers which often influences contemporary art critique.

This was just one of many refreshing aspects of the night. Having honest, open conversations with artists brought up insightful questions about the future of the industry and how young artists can carve their own unique paths to success.

V∆ND∆L Gallery: Talking ‘Aboriginal Contemporary’ Exhibition

Interview with Nichola Dare, conducted by Jennifer Hesketh

V∆ND∆L Gallery will soon be celebrating the opening night of ‘Desert Stars’, an exhibition of Indigenous art to be guest curated by Aboriginal Contemporary owner, Nichola Dare. ‘Desert Stars’ consists of works from talented Indigenous Australian artists who live in remote communities.

‘Desert Stars’ will showcase the work of some of our finest living contemporary artists to an urban Sydney audience.

Jennifer Hesketh AKA Art Pharmacy artist Quirky Bones talks to Nichola about bringing remote indigenous art to an urban audience, sourcing art and ethics.

You’ve curated a very diverse selection of artworks and artists for this exhibition. What themes bind them together?
Nichola Dare: Essentially, two things link all the work in ‘Desert Stars’. The first is provenance. All of the paintings are from art centres in extremely remote desert communities. Some of them, such as Martumili, in the very heart of the Western Desert, is one of the most remote communities in all of Australia, many hours by 4WD from the nearest town of any significance.

The other thing that binds all these works is their connection to ‘country’, which is a profound concept for all Aboriginal peoples. Some of the works tell stories of country tens of thousands of years old, others are depictions of country, the locations of tracks, hunting grounds and waterholes.

The link between people and country is so complete in fact that there is a contemporary painting by Tjungkara Ken from Amata in the APY Lands in this year’s Archibald Exhibition, which, as you know, is a portrait prize, that is actually a representation of the land but submitted as a self portrait because of her connection to her lands. All credit to the Archibald curators for not insisting all portraits need to show eyes and a nose!

A big part of sourcing your art is travelling to these remote communities. How has your relationships with these art centres, artists and communities changed over time?
I consider it an extraordinary privilege to be able to go into these communities, most of which are totally off-limits to the general public and even some art dealers. Even though I’ve travelled to these communities many times, the raw beauty of the landscapes and the warmth of the people still fills me with excitement and awe.

The communities themselves are understandably cautious of strangers so it has been a long process of slowly earning their trust, listening to their concerns and always doing the right thing by them. Once you are accepted the relationships are very strong and need to be, as individual art centre managers move on and the communities of artists are also fluid. The work I sell through Aboriginal Contemporary in Bronte is one of the main sources of income for many of these communities so I feel a real sense of responsibility towards them.  A big upside of building authentic relationships with communities, art centres and artists over many years is getting access to some of the very best work that those art centres produce. I’m very lucky.

More and more people today are concerned about ethical practices in Aboriginal art. What role does this play in the way you select work and curate exhibitions?
Some of the stories of unfair and unethical exploitation of artists make my blood boil. People are right to be concerned and wary but at the same time it’s important they aren’t scared away from the category or both themselves and the communities who rely on art sales miss out.

My responsibility as a gallery owner is to ensure my customers can be confident they are buying work with impeccable provenance and can be confident that the artists are treated fairly, respectfully and ethically. The simplest way to do this is to work directly with the community art centres, who always issue certificates of authentication for every piece. Art centres also provide opportunities, training and career development for practising Aboriginal artists and arts workers and act as agents between artists and galleries, museums and institutions. Most art centres will sell directly to the public but as they are often in very remote locations it’s often more efficient for them to work alongside reputable galleries in urban areas, who are better placed to sell and promote the artwork.

Why is it important to bring regional Indigenous art to an urban audience?
It is not only important to bring remote community art to Sydney it is essential, for both the artists and customers.  Having worked with remote communities for the last seven years I know that people will look at this exhibition and be amazed at what they are seeing, this is as exciting for me to see as it is to sell an artwork.  It is also important for people to understand how scarce some of these works are, for example the only other works available in Sydney at the moment by Mabel Juli are held in the public collections by the MCA and the Art Gallery of NSW. My belief is that every home should be filled with art, as it is good for the soul, and when Australia has one of the richest art cultures in the world it makes total sense for that art to be indigenous art.

RSVP to event here

‘Somewhere Between': Interview With Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell & Marnie Ross

In the lead up to their joint exhibition ‘Somewhere Between’, Art Pharmacy writer, Joey Hespe, sat down with artists Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell and Marnie Ross. They talk what inspires them to create, alter egos, and what we can expect from their show at VANDAL Gallery late this month.

 Ariella Friend

Ariella Friend

Have you always been interested in art?
Ariella: I was always busy making things as a child but didn’t really have a serious interest in art until adulthood.
Joi: Yeah, drawing is one of my earliest memories. I didn’t know it was art though. I didn’t know much about art, artists or the art world till I was in my late teens. I often wish it remained that way as outside influence can be a pain in the ass.
Marnie: I’ve always been creative and interested in art but I only started pursuing Fine Art seriously after completing a Master of Art, as a mature aged student. I previously had a career in Graphic Design.

Do you have an alter ego or do you moonlight as anything other than an artist?
Ariella: I am officially a full time artist these days. I balance this with being a mum to two young kids.
Joi: A studious geek, who on average only ventures out of her home once every two weeks.  
Marnie: I am a mum and I do the occasional Design job. I also run Little Things Art Prize which focuses on artists expressing gratitude and the little things that bring them joy.

 Joi Murugavell

Joi Murugavell

 Joi Murugavell

Joi Murugavell

What inspires your work?
Ariella: Anything from looking at the colours in the sky, to Instagram (is that bad?), to other amazing artists and creatives.
Joi: Human Beings and Music (both deserve capitalisation, one is definitely a lot more fun).
Marnie: My work is inspired by tiny details found in nature and evolving shadow patterns created by light, time and movement. Printmaking processes also have a strong influence on my painting techniques encouraging layering and activation of the surface.

Describe your artistic style in one sentence.
Ariella: Colourful, abstract expanded paintings that explore the relationships between found materials, paint and architectural spaces.
Joi: My style was in a marching band for 5 years, with white boots and a bright orange hat, played a snare drum but started out with the tambourine.
Marnie: Abstract compositions layered with vividly coloured organic shapes floating on a base of raw linen or wood.

 Marnie Ross

Marnie Ross

 Marnie Ross

Marnie Ross

All artists are storytellers, what story are you trying to communicate through your practice?
Ariella: I am interested in the dualities of the natural and human- how we value everyday materials and how consumerism is destroying the planet.
Joi: The rare moments when I see things as they are. And by sharing it, I may catch someone at the very moment they've seen the same thing. I feel more connected to all of the things that way.
Marnie: Although I have a clear concept in mind when creating the work I am very happy for the art to speak for itself, allowing the viewer to interpret the abstract work as it relates to them.

What is the favourite part or stage of your practice?
Ariella: I really love the initial ideas phase- researching, thinking, dreaming… I’ve always loved how you can think about something and then bring it to life with your own hands. I am learning that making mistakes is actually a really important part of the creative process- something you can’t control but ends up enhancing the work somehow.
Joi: All of it, I often play loud music and feel I’m at the best party ever when I’m painting or drawing. Even applying gesso to a canvas has its part in the party. I’ve been looking up battery operated disco balls on eBay, unsure how well they work during the day though.
Marnie: My favourite stage is when I am fully immersed in the process and able to experience ‘Flow' which positive psychologist describe as a “complete absorption in what one does and loses sense of space and time.”

Joi, Ariella & Marnie will be exhibiting at VANDAL Gallery 16-30 Vine Street Redfern from the 30th of June.

Current Exhibition: ‘Alchemical Spills’ by Tamara Mendels
Past Exhibitions: ‘Icon’ by Alun Rhys-Jones, ‘Rainbow Warriors’ by Sarah Beetson

VANDAL Gallery: Tamara Mendels 'Alchemical Spills' Launch

Opening night for Tamara Mendels ‘Alchemical Spills’ exhibition at V∆ND∆L Gallery attracted a diverse crowd of artists, media and creative industry patrons from the local precinct and broader Sydney city.  In collaboration with Vandal, exhibited eleven artworks in total from Mendels’ new collection. Created from acrylic, epoxy resin and pigment on canvas, the works included four with tactile and protruding features.  

Mendels was quite pleased with the attendance for the exhibition, although mentioning, “[at least] 20% of the crowd were some of my friends [who came to lend support]!”.  

All White Ceremony (2017) a large canvas painting made from acrylic, epoxy resin and enamel will have a new wall to hang on in a couple of weeks, as it was sold just prior to the official opening of the exhibition.  As early as her third year of art school, Mendels has been selling her works -0 so it’s not surprising this work was snapped up so quickly. However, it continues to receive an impressive amount of attention.  

“My process is quite thrilling, I have only a few minutes to make my marking with almost no room for adjustment as the painting is decided in minutes…”

Read our interview with Mendels here

Stay tuned for announcements regarding next month's Vandal exhibition!

Contact us here for purchase enquiries

Interview With Tamara Mendels

This month is the launch of Tamara Mendels' exhibition 'ALCHEMICAL SPILLS' at V∆ND∆L Gallery. We caught up with Tamara to find out more about her art and her inspiration.

tamara mendels - art pharmacy

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I always knew that I would do something creative. It wasn’t till I went to art school that I began to study other artists and take painting seriously. When I started selling artwork in my third year, I knew that making paintings could be a real possibility as a career path and it felt really encouraging that people responded to my art in a positive way.

How would you describe your artworks? Are there any particular themes you have in mind when you're working?
I am creating non-objective markings by pouring resin onto a pre-painted canvas.  Some of my pours are loose and uninhibited, violent spills produced out of a rhythmical physical act. Other pours are carefully predetermined as I rehearse the physical act of the marking to play it out like a performance on the canvas. I am always trying to create a marking that is completely new and to do this I try to get to a place of stillness within my mind. My process is quite thrilling, I have only a few minutes to make my marking with almost no room for adjustment as the painting is decided in minutes, its those few intense minutes that keep me coming back to my practice again and again excited for what I might do next.

In addition to being an artist, you are also a curator. Which came first? Has one influenced the other?
I started helping to curate art shows during art school in order to exhibit my own work alongside my contemporaries. With fellow artists Nicholas Pike, Israel Adams, Conrad Ross-Smith, and Sardar Sinjawi we became a small group of artists exhibiting together in artist run spaces in Sydney. In 2009 Nicholas Pike and I moved to New York where we started The Jon Frum Art Foundation, a gallery focussed on exhibiting Australian emerging art to international audiences. With countless exhibitions and participations in art walks and art fairs, we moved to Los Angeles and continued the gallery in downtown LA.  We returned to Sydney and started the first “20/20 art shows” 20 art shows in 20 days, held at the Damien Minton Annex space (2011 and 2012). Curating shows has always been something I do in conjunction with my art practice and with other artists working and playing through ideas together.

You have worked and exhibited all over the world. Is there one city in particular that you enjoy working in?
I have loved showing work in New York, the enthusiasm of art audiences is so encouraging. There are so many people engaged and interested in art, there seems to be an openness where people see that your doing something interesting and they want to be a part of it, we had many artists and writers offering their time to assist for free just to experience something cool. Some of my best paintings came out of a tent inside our loft in Brooklyn, I could barley make more than two works at a time inside a completely air tight dust free tent, my studio was a space in side a space, the limitations of this space saw fewer works being made but I loved those pieces. I loved L.A for the same reasons, L.A was more like Sydney so I felt a sense of familiarity, with great beaches and warm climate, I could live there again if the opportunity presented itself.

Are there any other artists or creatives that you are inspired by?
I am inspired by artists all the time, I feel such excitement when a piece of art moves me to feel a sense of wonderment, this happens when I feel encapsulated and entranced by the work stunned in amazement. My earlier influences came from the Lyrical and Abstract Expressionists such as Sam Francis, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline and Morris Lewis. A handful of my contemporary influences are artists whose works seem to transport me to another dimension such as; Dan Colan, Stearling Ruby, Dale Frank, Katarina Grosse, Markus Linnenbrink, Jonathan Lasker, Gerhard Richter (abstracts) and Anselm Kieffer.

To see Tamara's exhibition, visit V∆ND∆L Gallery at 16-30 Vine St, Redfern from 8th June - 26th June, open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm

V∆ND∆L Gallery Presents: The Bottles by RCM Collective

Exhibiting: 30 May – 5 June 2017

 Photo by Clyde Yee

Photo by Clyde Yee

For an excitingly brief interlude, Vandal Gallery will be host to the RCM Collective’s kinetic sculptures, The Bottles (2015).

The Bottles by RCM Collective is a kinetic posse of enlarged squeegees. Showing at Vandal are two pieces from a series of seven, first exhibited at Sculpture by the Sea Bondi, in 2015. 

With a spin on the quintessential Spray and Wipe product, the bottle forms are dubbed with life-like qualities. Designed and sculpted by hand, The Bottles hold anamorphic shape, with figurative proportions and a sympathetic inclination of the bust and nozzle. 

At Bondi, each animated character was built to spit; with a manual push of their red triggers misty sprays and fountain-like squirts are released from the nozzles.

The work was inspired by a photographic series by one of RCM’s members Megan Hales, which involved portraits of commercial cleaning agents from supermarket shelves. 

RCM is a collective of three Melbourne and Sydney-based artists: Corey Thomas, Roger Mitchell and Megan Hales. With diverse backgrounds in public sculpture, painting and film, RCM’s members are involved in multiple avenues of the arts and have exhibited nation-wide. 

THE BOTTLES (2015) by RCM Collective. fibreglass, steel armature, automotive paint, water/pump system

V∆ND∆L 
16-30 vine st redfern
gallery@vandal.sydney
www.vandal.sydney
www.artpharmacy.com.au 

V∆ND∆L​ GALLERY - 'ICON' OPENING NIGHT

On Thursday night we (literally!) rolled out the red carpet for a buzzing crowd of art lovers, advertising heavyweights, and everyone in between to celebrate our newest exhibition at VANDAL Gallery! After the launch of our first permanent, physical gallery space last month we were very excited to welcome Sydney-based artist Alun Rhys Jones presenting his new exhibition, entitled ICON.

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Artist Talk - Vandal Gallery

Art Pharmacy has made the leap from virtual to physical. Starting from a pop up exhibition on Sydney's Oxford Street in 2012, Art Pharmacy has once more returned to an exhibition space in addition to it's highly successful online gallery. Taking over the gallery space of VANDAL, Art Pharmacy brings the best of contemporary art to Redfern’s leafy backstreets.

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