SALA – Andrew Clarke and AIPP (Light Gallery)

SMA Kryztoff banner Jul 13 01 100dpiBy Peter Maddern

Andrew Clarke is a young Adelaide artist developing his style and his most recent exhibition is at The Corner Store, Dulwich.We first came across his work at SALA 2011 ( Then, his six works focussed on landscapes and outdoor figurative scenes.

This solo exhibition, entitled Archetypes, is more of that figurative style with a greater emphasis on portraits. The development of his own aesthetic is also progressing apace with these highly reminiscent of 18th and 19th century Flemish art with peasantry going about their work (The Hunter, The Weaver) and the portraits have a hint of the Rembrandt in them, particularly Puer Aeternus (The Eternal Boy).

Others may well also recognise a style not dissimilar to local celebrity artist, Robert Hannaford, though in no way does there appear any attempt has been made to emulate him.

Full credit to Clarke if for nothing else than having the courage to stay away from decorative forms to attract those only keen on filling up a wall.

This year’s local AIPP competitions included one for a series of photos and the best of these are now on show at The Light Gallery, Richmond. There is little doubt Hilary Hann’s Elephant Song series is the stand out of the six photographers represented.

As its title suggests, they are about elephants, or about not having elephants as they track a Chinese world once replete with the gracious monsters through one where the biggest and best are cut down for their ivory leaving a landscape of orphans and discarded bones that in time is morphing into just massive mammal free savannah. The images carry a nostalgic, old world feel about them that adds to the poignancy of the message.

I also liked Brendt Leidersitz’s Insistence, images of women insisting on the ‘right to be free form gender roles imposed by society [and] restraints of choice implied by the fashion, entertainment and media industries.’ While the theme is not without precedent, it is not used here as an excuse for images of the butch or unkempt. On the contrary, what we are presented is six sharply contrasted images of a raw beauty that remind one of 1950’s chic but with modern affectations such as nipples painted with a cross and lip rings.

Leanne King’s Elements series is also of great note where nature is used to clothe and decorate her younger women models, creating elaborate head pieces and elemental gowns from her leaves, twigs and branches. Earth is my favourite but others are certain to look elsewhere in the collection which was shot last autumn at Brownhill Creek.

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