Discovering Dobell at TarraWarra
The beautiful setting of the TarraWarra Museum of Art, a couple of hours out of Melbourne, is an interesting contrast to the work on its walls right now. William Dobell focused on ordinariness. He painted the poverty of mid-20th-century Australia with frankness, dressing down his portraits with an unflinching and often unflattering eye. Later he became an in-demand portraitist, but the pieces at TarraWarra are more expressive than typical, formal commissioned portraits usually are. He played with form, elongating and stretching limbs, skewering expectations – he captured character over realism. His Archibald Prize-winning portrait of artist Joshua Smith – uncomplimentary, spindly and sallow – enraged critics (which is always nice). Alongside Discovering Dobell is Dobell’s Circle, a selection of works by his peers, including Russell Drysdale, Sali Herman and Jeffrey Smart.
Discovering Dobell is at Tarrawarra Museum of Art until August 13.
Dale Frank at Neon Parc, Brunswick
There’s a healthy irreverence to Dale Frank’s works: they exist in the crossover between the opulent and the grotesque. Frank uses blood, liquid glass, rubber masks, human hair and glitter, which he applies to large sheets of coloured perspex, which reflect the viewer, the room and the surrounding works, absorbing everything into their weird, colourful world. There are sculptures, too, one of which is simply groceries wrapped in cling wrap, which the artist posits is either one week’s supermarket food purchases for a 22-year-old artist, or for an 84-year-old pensioner. In contrast to the shiny, camp textures of the pieces, their titles are blunt, non sequitur short stories that bear no relation to the piece: Mitch spent the day meeting people installing NBN dishes on roofs, is one, apropos of nothing.
Dale Frank is at Neon Parc, Brunswick until August 12.
Sean Bailey at Daine Singer
Sean Bailey’s small abstract paintings operate somewhere between reckless and tightly controlled. Messy brushstrokes are hemmed in by precise lines, and elements of collage (photocopies of images of destruction and antiquity) and sculpture (coarse, pebbly chunks of hydrostone) are held in the 30-centimetre by 30-centimetre confines of the canvas. On a table in the corner of the room there’s a handful of sculptures – small, rough-hewn concrete blocks. Like the paintings, they’re scrappy but full of life.
Sean Bailey is at Daine Singer until August 5.
Alasdair McLuckie, Jon Butt, Kalinda Vary, Cooper Bowman, Jacob Raupach at Bus Projects
Bus Projects, one of Melbourne’s oldest artist-run galleries, is hosting five artists right now, each offering a distinct, very different mini-show, each dense with theoretical ideas filtered through a lo-fi aesthetic. Before you enter, you'll see Kalinda Vary’s video piece on screens facing the street, playfully using some Kylie karaoke as a starting point to talk about power dynamics and the male gaze. Alasdair McLuckie addresses the ritual of the handmade with a series of magazine collages and pieces made from woven beads. Jon Butt has created video and photos without using a camera; instead, he’s thrown dust, slate and mineral samples onto a flatbed scanner to create ethereal spacescapes. Cooper Bowman offers some consciously ropey photocopied drawings and a lo-fi cassette loop as an exploration of artistic ineptitude. And Jacob Raupach’s black-and-white photography looks at labour and capitalism.
This group show is at Bus Projects until July 29.
Greater Together at ACCA
ACCA’s new show is all about collaboration in its many forms, a broad theme that is used to discuss everything from politics and climate change to colonialism. The huge space at ACCA lends itself to monumental works, and Greater Together has several. Regular collaborators Goldin+Senneby have installed an oak tree in the gallery, underneath which an attendant will read a short story every day at 2.12pm. Offcuts from the tree will be fashioned into furniture as the exhibition continues, making it an inviting communal space. Dutch artists Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol have installed a huge sandpit of red dust, recalling the dust storm that hit Melbourne in 1983, around which recordings of seven voices praise the land. Meanwhile, collective Field Theory has built a survivalist’s bunker full of ham radios, hydroponic herbs and kilos of long-lasting food. When the apocalypse hits, we’re all going to ACCA.
Greater Together is at ACCA until September 17.