One of the most striking images at NOW 16 is a portrait of a young Malaysian couple on their wedding day. Dressed head-to-toe in turquoise finery they pose before an exquisite waterfall-like floral arrangement. It’s almost perfectly serene – except they stare out at you from matching pale-blue balaclavas.
Named Wedding (Conspiracy to Commit), it’s a work by Australian artist Abdul Abdullah, recently named by Art Collector as one to watch in 2016.
Fehily Contemporary Gallery’s director, Lisa Fehily, says it’s a statement on the way we judge others immediately, particularly those from backgrounds different to our own, before giving them a chance.
“That’s why they have balaclavas,” she says. “They’re there, but they’re not there. We put them there.”
The work is part of Fehily Contemporary’s NOW 16, an annual group exhibition that showcases the gallery’s emerging artists. It’s an insight into what they’re working on, and what they’re preparing for in the year ahead. It’s also the first time the exhibition has been held at Fehily’s new space on High Street in Armadale, the result of a merger with Mossgreen gallery and auction house in late 2015.
The exhibition features nine artists, including a new oil painting by Darren Wardle. It’s of a retro-futuristic home, a continuation of his exploration of suburban ruin. There are elements of Howard Arkley there. But something isn’t right. Why are the curtains drawn? Why is the façade scrawled with graffiti? The viewer stands on the street looking in, but with little clue as to what’s inside.
Another interesting work to watch for is by Simon Finn. It is inspired by his fascination with tsunamis and natural disasters. Last year Finn travelled to Indonesia where he built a tower that he watched the water destroy. For this exhibition, he created ink drawings and a 3D print out of the tower to show how the water attacked it.
“Simon is an extraordinary artist who works from the computer-out,” Fehily says. He built the tower in the computer first, and then drew after the digital image was composed. “It’s a beautiful way of starting with technology and ending with the hand.”
NOW 16 is showing at Fehily Contemporary, Mossgreen at 935 High Street, Armadale until March 27.