Contemporary Showcase 22
A selection of recent works by CAS Inc. Members
Decoy Café Bar Gallery, 303 Exhibition St, Melbourne
23 April to 19 July 2018
Review by Mark Minty
Decoy Café is again the perfect host to the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria’s showcase of 2018. Shows like this present the variety of artistic practice and expression that are key to the vibrant nature of local contemporary art and its practitioners.
I visited the exhibition on a very bleak Friday morning. Pushing open the café door, I was immediately welcomed by a throng of enthusiastic coffee drinkers ready for a break and wonderful staff making me feel at home. My first response to this exhibition of works by nine members of CAS was to smile, both on the inside and outwardly. A simple response but, in this epoch of competition and creative weariness, it was nice to feel happy to see new work.
Singapura, water soluble pencil, 32 x 23 cm, by Lilly Antoneavic
The Blue Vase, acrylic, 45 x 60 cm, by Kathy Best
Lilly Anoneavic’s sublime feline portraits are technically mesmerizing in their detail and Kathy Best’s vibrant works are bold, colour-filled statements; The Blue Vase is particularly fresh. Any cat lover will see that Cressida Fox absolutely knows cats and I wanted to jump into Susan Gustafson’s pictures, especially Summer Heat; they impart an idyllic feeling a world way from the cold and misery waiting for me outside.
Staring Cats, water soluble pencil, 37 x 28 cm, by Cressida Fox
Tulips, acrylic, 91 x 61 cm, by Susan Gustafson
Embracing the non-representational are the works of Neda Starac and Mandy Hopkins. Starac’s painting is heartfelt and personal where Hopkins’ work is bold and confronting. Hopkins is very comfortable pushing the boundaries of what painting is and that is exciting to see. Both artists use emotive titles to underscore their statements about civilisation.
Planet Earth Australia, oil, 28 x 43 cm, by Neda Starac
Searching for Space, acrylic & oil on board, 110 x 85 cm, by Mandy Hopkins
No less bold and wonderfully decorative are the water crystal and ink pen works of Heather King. The pictures certainly evoke nature and remind me of beautiful indigenous textile design. A wall-sized work by this artist would be amazing! This too is what drew me to the four large works by Sepideh Jafari. The marbling-type method created is a difficult technique to do well and Jafari shows a deft and gentle hand. I would also love these developed into larger scale pieces.
Arrowheads (Design 12 From My A3 Colouring Book), Brusho water crystals, 51 x 41 cm, by Heather King
Enthusiasm 2, mixed media, 70 x 100 cm, by Sepideh Jafari
Fitting nicely between the realms of representation and abstraction are the four works by Payam Khajar. They are slick, frenetic pieces that draw the viewer into them quickly. Black Friday (I don’t know the artist’s motivation in naming this painting) is a statement work that I think visitors will be attracted to on many levels.
Black Friday, mixed media, 100 x 100 cm, by Payam Khajar
Apart from the resources making and presenting new and exciting art requires, it is also difficult to showcase work successfully amongst the hustle and bustle of café life. Not withstanding, it is one of the best ways for artists to interact with an audience that may not take time to habitually visit commercial galleries. So it won’t surprise me that regulars of Decoy Café will have chosen their favourite piece to sit beneath, chattering and I am sure they are already intrigued to see what the CAS artists will offer up next time.
Bill and Chris at Decoy Café Bar Gallery