It’s hard not to get lost in the possibilities wandering about the vast, first floor space that will soon be the newest addition to Melbourne’s commercial gallery set. Perched above a former warehouse in an unassuming South Yarra back street, Tristian Koenig – which opens Wednesday night with its inaugural group show Explaining Colours to the Blind – is a rarity on the Melbourne gallery circuit: a space with, err, plenty of space to spare.
“I’m really kind of excited to have this space which gives young artists a chance to work a little larger and, to a degree, scale-up their work,” says the gallery’s namesake. “There’s not many galleries in Melbourne – particularly commercial galleries – where, if you’re exhibiting sculpture, you can walk all the way around the piece and get a nice sense of perspective and figure-ground relationship. But with this space, all that becomes possible.”
Koenig, who recently parted ways with Neon Parc co-founder and continuing director Geoff Newton after five years running the Bourke Street space together, hopes his new venture can bring a new approach to showing art in Melbourne. Starting its life with a small stable, which includes Melbourne’s Riley Payne, Sydney artist Christopher Hanrahan and Brisbane painter Karen Black, the gallery’s focus isn’t so much on representation, but on charting a crystallised program of shows.
“The main focus is definitely on the program,” says Koenig. “I’ll be doing longer shows and less of them and really just focusing on contextualising artists against one another, rather than churning through show after show.”
It’s also a program with wide eyes. “I’m really interested in working with international artists,” says Koenig. “One thing I’m conscious of is that I don’t just want to show Melbourne artists or artists from particular art schools.”
If the roster of artists comprising Explaining Colours to the Blind – which includes Karen Black, Lane Cormick, Heath Franco, Christopher Hanrahan, Thomas Jeppe, Dane Lovett, Riley Payne and Matthew Shannon – is anything to go by, things are off to a solid start.
“This whole process has kind of made me re-evaluate the commercial gallery space,” says Koenig. “It’s been about looking at other galleries that I like, talking to friends who work overseas and trying to get something that really offers a different perspective. I want to work with people from different generations, artists that have different kinds of practices and present things that I think are relevant and interesting.”
Tristian Koenig opens this tonight, April 13 from 6–8pm.
Level 1, 18 Ellis Street, South Yarra
(03) 9827 8485