South of no North

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) announces South of no North, an exhibition that contextualises the work of Australian painter Noel McKenna (Australia) with his international peers, photographers Laurence Aberhart (NZ) and William Eggleston (USA).

Art Exhibition previously on at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in The Rocks precinct, New South Wales, Australia.
From Friday 08 March 2013 to Sunday 05 May 2013

Untitled (Memphis) image Big Pineapple, Gympie, Queensland image Domestic architecture: Ipswich, Queensland image

Published by M.C.A. on Monday 25 February 2013.
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Spanning painting, ceramics, video and photography, the exhibition brings together three artists whose works are connected by an interest in the vernacular, a regional sense of place and a similar visual sensibility.

All three artists create intimate scale works and employ centrality in their compositions. The subject matter ranges from architecture, environments and signs to people and interiors, images captured on travels across America’s deep south, New Zealand’s North Island and Australia.

Eggleston and McKenna create colour snapshot-like images while Aberhart’s toned black and white silver gelatin contact prints engage with a stricter formality.

Eggleston originally trained as a painter and is known as a pioneer of colour photography. His dye transfer prints shook the photography world and launched a photographic style called the Democratic Camera, the idea that anything, no matter how inconsequential, is worthy of photographing and becoming the subject of art. As a young artist in the early 1980s, McKenna was struck by Eggleston’s images and their focus on the commonplace.

Highlights in the exhibition include Eggleston’s Untitled (Memphis) (1970), an iconic image from his early work featuring a tricycle that looms gigantically, dwarfing all around it and adopting the view of a child.

McKenna taps into child-like wonder too through his series of paintings of ‘big things’ such as the Big Pineapple, Big Orange or Big Penguin – a very Australian civic obsession.

Aberhart’s portrait of his daughter lying on a roof next to a ladder leading to the sky, Kamala, Lyttelton, September 1981 (1981), reflects on being a child and the swift passing of life. His gaze often falls on things in the process of disappearing, such as childhood or the built environment. McKenna first discovered Aberhart’s photographs in the early 1990s.

On the work of all three artists, MCA Curator Glenn Barkley said: ’They are akin to short stories where emotions and narratives are condensed into rich and provocative sensations. And while they do reflect the everyday world, they also make manifest the power of art to alert us to the wonder and poetry that is all around us.’

South of no North is presented in the Level 1 South Gallery.