Cultural Pattern and Human Fragility By Ann Newmarch – Flinders Uni Art Museum (State Library) – Till 29th August

Ann Newmarch’s 25th solo exhibition comprises 16 works and opinion may well divide on their merits. To be sure they are complex, any one incorporating many motifs that span on one axis of thought cultural items like Afgham rugs, rosettes, Italian and Greek monuments and on the other images of war and death such as the silhouettes of rifles, the photo of Kim Phuc fleeing a napalm attack in the Vietnam war and a trader falling to his death from one of the twin towers on 9/11.

There is also a beauty about them in that they hang well together and can sustain individual curiosity as well filling a space on a wall. However, the repetition of the images across all 16 works and overall feel somewhat confound the individual and often distinct titles and commentary associated with each.

Newmarch speaks in the catalogue of how ‘these images grew bit by bit without much consideration for the big picture. I felt like I was dissolving into each area I altered or added (a bit like a quilt, the complexities of each stitch.)’ Janet Maughn speaks of ‘the messages appear not so obviously. These are pictures that reward close inspection of different parts of the picture surface; that hint at relationships and encourage the viewer to make connections across cultures, across time and across events.

Thus the divide on these works is either they are a hotch potch of icons that will resonate from one’s consciousness that holds together as complex and colourful or the trained eye will make out these connections of culture and war and tie them in with their titles. But if the artists didn’t seem to know where they were going, I am unsure why viewers should or would.

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