Elizabeth Newman’s Un-titled at ANU Drill Hall Gallery is Exciting | Canberra Times

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Elizabeth Newman: Untitled. ANU Drill Hall Gallery, Kingsley Street, Acton. Until 23 January 2022. dhg.anu.edu.au. Elizabeth Newman is a high-profile artist, author and psychoanalyst in Melbourne who has had a complex relationship with art production since the mid-1980s. Her exhibition at Drill Hall Gallery presents a heterogeneous selection of her works, including pencil, charcoal and pastel drawings from 1985 to more recent oil paintings dated 2021. The title of the exhibition – Untitled – denotes a play on words that underlies much of her work. practice. In a paper she handed in at the University of Melbourne in 2012, she remarked: “It is certainly true that Un is a term. The dictionary describes it as a prefix indicating negation – not or the opposite of – but it means much more than it is for people who use it. ” Many of her works are untitled, but the insertion of the hyphen leads us into a mind game that suggests that something actually originally had a title, but through a deliberate move, the artist has decided to remove that title. Such semantic thought games are characteristic of Newman’s art practice as she moves found objects into art galleries and painstakingly deliberately made works of art out of the gallery space. In her exhibition, she plays with smooth objects that assume different shades, play different roles and assume changing identities. Newman wrote in 2014, noting: “Just as literature no longer exists and is now really ‘publishing’, so art is now ‘public display’. We live in a world of pure representation, of obscenity and equivalence: everything can be seen, and there is no longer any difference (it counts) between art and other products of the imaginary. ” While there is elegance in her verbal vocabulary that dives into the autobiography and her beloved theorists, especially Jacques Lacan, it is undeniable in this exhibition that among the readymade detritus there are also beautifully crafted paintings with a significant aesthetic presence. In particular, some of Newman’s oil paintings created in the last few years are beautifully realized with floating veils of textured colors or the quiet sublime gray-on-gray paintings that assert the power of the painted work. It is almost in spite of her protests that the desire to create strong aesthetic objects prevails in her art practice. Newman attracted attention as a painter from the mid to late 1980s, and by 1992 he seemed to have largely given up art production to study psychoanalysis and establish a professional practice. She returned to artmaking in the early 2000s and has subsequently produced some of her best works, much of which is increasingly permeated by a theoretical discourse. Oddly enough, looking at the evidence presented in this exhibition, her practice was not reborn after the decade-long pause, but seems to have resumed exactly where it left off. To the uninitiated eye, Newman is a difficult and challenging artist who tackles a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, collage, textiles and sculpture, and who engages in a wide range of artistic and theoretical strategies. The exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery in Acton, which does not contain any text labels or even numbers related to titles, is inappropriate, and it is time consuming to run around with a gallery plan that tries to match locations with possible titles, and deters from watching the show. The exhibition at the Griffith University Art Museum of her exhibition Elizabeth Newman Is that a ‘No’ ?, which was shown in November 2020, was accompanied by extensive weight texts and titles and provided an easier introduction to her art. Aside from comments on the presentation, this is a challenging and thought-provoking exhibit that will entertain, intrigue and delight audiences.



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