New Blood

dos Santos, Tyerman, Morgan Smith, Edge

July 14 to July 28 2012

The New Blood exhibition introduces the works of four emerging artists who have recently become represented by Anthea Polson Art. Through process and imagery they interpret aspects of personal reality with surprising candour and innovative outcomes.

Vitor dos Santos

Traces of Vitor dos Santos' Portuguese ancestry surface and subside in the seemingly random imagery of imported cans of sardines and squid, tins of coffee, bottles of liquor, anchor motifs, bats, cameras and the dates 1853 and 1985. He says that employing this cryptic visual vocabulary is his way of mapping his surrounds, both real and imaginary. "Old maritime books, popular culture magazines and the odd bottle of beer or two have been sources of inspiration. I embrace this gonzo-like process of image-making to lead the viewer through fantastical narratives."

Dos Santos is immersed in the processes of painting. Governed by intuitive impulse he allows initial markings to prompt the direction the work will take. "Through a "play of addition and subtraction" his paintings are stripped to their most raw expression. Dos Santos builds his imagery then drags it into disarray through overlays, stains, dribbles, conte-crayon scribbles and charcoal scrubbings.

In both subject and delivery the Old Man and the Sea is a powerfully evocative work. Perhaps referencing times both past and future, the image with its bespectacled face has just an inkling of self-portraiture. Collaged into distorted balloons, words in sallow pages fly from the figure's mouth while his eyes peer skyward at a curious little sepia marking. The linear repetition of the form suggests dislocation, a falling away or the capriciousness of memory. Depicted insignia-like on the man's chest - or recollection-like within it - is a dark boat steaming through rolling waves as seabirds wheel above. The surrounding eight dusky flares seem to reiterate the pervading sense of slippage and wane.

Recently relocated from Brisbane to Lismore, Vitor dos Santos has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Southern Cross University, Lismore 2007 and a Certificate III Fine Arts, Meadowbank TAFFE, Sydney 2001.

Martin Edge

One cannot help but respond to the joie de vivre expressed in Martin Edge's naive, brightly coloured paintings. It is a quality that found his work recently placed in the Parliament House Collection, Canberra - a remarkable achievement for an artist still in his twenties. Edge paints that which delights him and this new body of work consists of self-portraits in the studio and scenes of Sydney, his "second favourite place". The first remains moot, left open to new experience, but with patriotic ardour he confesses it is probably Brisbane and its vibrant river activity.

In the large acrylic on linen simply titled Sydney, Edge portrays the harbour city as a curvilinear expanse of dazzling, turquoise water surrounded by foreshores containing rounded wharfs and a very smiley-like interpretation of the iconic Opera House. Overarching all is a brilliant orange sky, replete with fluffy yellow clouds. Orange is a special colour for Edge. Only the group of encroaching, thrusting buildings have been given rectangular form. We look down as from an aeroplane window at the scene below but the Harbour Bridge and distant Iron Cove Bridge are treated front-on. The varying perspectives add to the sense of effervescence.

The interior of the Martin in Studio work also encompasses simultaneous perspectives. However this piece is essentially a sequence of squares and rectangles, apart from the dominant, centrally placed round table upon which Edge prefers to paint his pictures. The studio does have the obligatory easel but he chuckles that its purpose is purely decorative. In this reclusive setting the artist stands, brush in hand, as if caught unexpectedly at his craft. Or perhaps he's welcoming us in to partake of his enjoyment? Proudly displayed on the wall behind him are depictions of Edge's many awards as well as cheery personal maxims.

Martin Edge studied Visual Arts, North Point Institute of TAFE and Illustration, Southbank Institute of TAFE, Brisbane 2007. Edge is also an avid collector of quite diverse works by fellow emerging artists. Among his numerous achievements he is the recipient of an Autism Queensland Creative Futures Recognition Award 2010. He has been short-listed in the Blake Prize and received Commendation for best Main Roads Traffic Signal Box, Brisbane 2010 after being a finalist in 2009.

Nikky Morgan-Smith

With instinctual gesture and assertive brushmark, Nikky Morgan-Smith explores universal themes of displacement and confinement played out in the particular of a domestic environment. The attendant anxieties, their management and ultimate reconciliation find expression in richly metaphoric imagery. Her mixed-media paintings are created without premeditation or "the notion of a conclusion" so that "narratives both sinister and humorous, fantastic and absurd", might spontaneously present.

The cloister-like seclusion of the bathroom provides a setting for introspection and reverie. In these small private spaces the repressed is unleashed by water dripping, gushing or overflowing in sinks, baths and showers. "Sometimes it falls sharply like needles - black and angry - at other times it gently floats away or vaporises into air," says the artist.

"The idea of the menagerie where wild animals are held captive for display purposes interests me as well," Morgan-Smith adds. The incongruity of exotic creatures finding themselves dislocated to the domestic bathroom has anthropomorphic intent. "In a primal way, every animal manifests a facet of human emotion," she explains. "I visualise the fear but also the humour, be it dark or just utterly ridiculous." The painting Tall Stories exemplifies this.

Here a yellow giraffe sits in an antique bathtub that has legs like those of some fabled, clawed animal. Steam billowing from the rattly old shower, to which actual vintage tap handles are attached, makes for a very atmospheric situation. Her paint drips and oozes like the trickling runnels of water formed by warm condensation. The giraffe with its multi-hued and scribbled spots seems bemused but content enough despite the scratchy, black linear activity issuing from another tap. The picture admirably illustrates Morgan-Smith's very personal understanding of water as an agency for renewal and transformation.

Nikky Morgan-Smith is based in the NSW North Coast. She has a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree from Southern Cross University, Lismore 2004 and also studied at RMIT, Melbourne.

Steve Tyerman

For the much travelled Steve Tyerman, art and life are inextricably bound. He describes his works as "an attempt to bring all the pieces of my life together into a sort of visual game and see how they coexist: the people closest to me, my belongings and longings, beliefs or lack of beliefs, the joys and frustrations, thoughts and conversations, my surroundings." He believes that external experiences and stimuli are the essential fodder for an interior contemplation that will find expression in the creative process. "It's the balancing act of living a full life outside the studio and a meaningful one inside it," he muses. "How do you make your work reflect a multifaceted life?"

Tyerman's luscious, palette-knifed technique adroitly resolves the conundrum. Initially, images drawn from his everyday environment are rendered realistically onto the canvas with careful consideration given to shape and colour placement. This intimate engagement with his subjects prepares him for the very risky process of intuitively trowelling thick, neutrally coloured oil paint over the imagery. Akin to fitful surfacings from the collective unconscious, fragments of the original artwork bob - disrupted and abstracted - amidst choppy drifts of buttery texture. Light bounces off the heavy lozenges of paint in a veritable semblance of the artist's "multifaceted life".

Increasingly Tyerman's work focuses on the nature of creativity itself: "My art books are, and always will be, a direct source of learning and inspiration." He goes on to explain that in studying and juxtaposing the disparate methods of significant artists and then translating them into his own pictorial language he was able to find a means of "forcing non-representational imagery into a figurative context". Tyerman's richly tactile works have earned him considerable attention with the steady inclusion of paintings into significant art prizes, the most recent being the 2011 Stan and Maureen Duke Art Award, GCCAG.

Sydney-born Steve Tyerman now resides in the Gold Coast region. He has a Bachelor Degree BBCE (1st Class Honours, University Medal) 1997 and is actively involved with ongoing Life Drawing classes.



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