This summer, Utopian Slumps is rugging up. The concept for their final show of the year is quite a unique one: In the Gardens presents hand-woven rugs made in Tibet, designed by a bastion of local and international artists, including its Melbourne-based curator Misha Hollenbach.
The selected artists share an appreciation for a bold economy of line, which translates especially well in the weaving process. Take California's Barry McGee, a cult figure among street artists whose work draws inspiration from contemporary urban culture. His printmaking and painterly practice is recognised for its use of punchy typography and bright colours. Also included is Chris Johanson's comical and ultra bright aesthetic. Having built his craft painting skateboards and houses, he too is part of the same American west coast Mission School as McGee. Keegan McHargue is also deeply steeped in graffiti culture and his fetishistic, pop-inspired work mutates into strange fantasy worlds, which are even more intriguing for its unusual medium.
Also included is Japanese artist Misaki Kawai, who is famous for reconfiguring cheap materials into installations of quirky and anthropomorphic caricatures. Her much-loved naïve, illustrative style becomes abstracted on carpet, pointing to a kind of primal, almost ancient design. Her Japanese counterpart, UK-based artist Christian Hidaka, offers an aesthetic that borrows from Western and Japanese traditions of landscape painting, executed in a technicolour palette.
Locally, Misha Hollenbach, as well as Constanze Zikos, present designs that merge the contemporary with old-school principles. Hollenbach's instinctive approach ensures the production of quasi-surreal and cartoonish imagery, the potential meanings of which are as curiously engaging as Zikos's monochrome design. The resulting works expose a new way of appreciating the artists and each of their practices. It’s a show that clearly weaves in more than just thread.
In the Garden, curated by Misha Hollenbach, shows at Utopian Slumps from December 8 to 24 December.