Untitled (Construction of coloured rays) 1993
122.4 x 122.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Margaret Stewart Endowment, 1994
© Anne-Marie May, courtesy Murray White Room, Melbourne
This exhibition brings together a wide-range of works that suggest new interpretative possibilities through previously unconsidered juxtapositions of Australian and International contemporary art. Incorporating both recently acquired art from the new century and works from as far back as the 1970s, the exhibition underscores how gallery collections are fluid entities that generate new meaning over time. Look! examines a wide range of art in a variety of media including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and installation, craft and video. Artists include Ricky Swallow, James Morrison, Shane Cotton, Luigi Fusinato, Luke Parker, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Richard Bell, David McDiarmid, Nick Mangan, Eamon O’Toole, Damien Hirst, Blair Trethowan, Narelle Jubelin, Kate Rohde, and Ant Farm, among others.
Several themes and narratives can be noted in the exhibition. Melancholic ruminations on death and the nagging fears that lurk within the shadows of contemporary life permeate throughout. The politics of identity and the enduring stigma attached to difference is another leitmotif that Look! explores. Issues surrounding technology and mass media inform works in the show in both sinister and playful ways. The culture of consumption, material desire, and how we manage our sanity amidst the mind-numbing environment of media saturation resonates significantly within the imaginations of many artists’ whose works are exhibited here. Less of a theme and more of a formal and material predisposition, several artists in Look! embrace craft handwork and a folk art sensibility in the creative process. Finally, the exhibition also offers a respite from some of the more charged contemporary issues mentioned above through the presentation of elegantly formal artworks that update various strains of European Modernism such as Cubism and Russian Constructivism.