Perhaps the only magician we have is the artist.
Artists have always been known for their ability to conjure and transform. Louise Zhang, Sam Holt and Luke Ryan O’Connor are no exception. A summer spent in the studio has seen each of these artists materialise a vibrant new body of artworks. The alchemy of the studio is evident with each artist dishing up a series of works that are at once exciting and fresh, whilst also immediately recognisable and iconic.
Louise Zhang’s latest series of fantastical and bewitching paintings are executed in the artist’s signature sugary palette – replete with lush imagery mashed together from references as diverse as horror films and Chinese mythology. Luke Ryan O’Connor presents a series of cryptic, mysterious and alluringly tactile experimental ceramics – with thick, opaque viscous glazes that slump, slip and ooze like creamy candle wax; the coagulations dripping and undulating like iced confections off selected peg-like splinters and body parts jutting from the vessel surfaces.
Meanwhile, Sam Holt continues to build on his recent series of ‘digitally massaged photographic paintings’, drawing on abstracted and romanticized images, to bring to life the feelings and emotional undercurrents which define our experience of nostalgia and memory.
Showcasing the talent of three artists whom have undoubtedly established themselves as ones to watch, Artereal Gallery is proud to unveil this curated selection of new works.
(To view and purchase artworks from this series, including pricing details, scroll to the end of this online exhibition page).
Sam Holt is a Sydney-based emerging artist whose multidisciplinary practice spans expanded painting, installation and sculpture.
Interested in documenting fleeting and happenstance moments from everyday life, Sam Holt’s latest body of work presents a series of abstracted and romanticized images which bring to life the feelings and emotional undercurrents which define our experience of nostalgia and memory.
A series of observational memories in transit, reminisced now into reality, Holt’s new works have been photographically captured, digitally massaged on the iPad, printed on linen and reworked with a layer of expressive painterly gestures. Mimicking the way memories are naturally stretched and abstracted over time, the process of mining these seemingly insignificant personal moments allows Holt to translate an intangible experience into the creation of a new emotionally charged artwork.
Celebrating the daily opportunities that present themselves to us throughout life, while subsequently questioning the openness with which we meet them, Sam Holt’s mixed media artworks are a celebration of the small and seemingly insignificant moments of beauty and wonder which surround us every day.
Sam Holt completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney in 2017, during which time he also completed an exchange at the Universität der Kunste, Berlin. Awarded the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for Painting in 2017, he relocated to Berlin for two years, only recently returning to Sydney in late 2019.
In late 2019, Sam Holt presented a large scale site specific installation and solo show, titled Too busy to see as part of the inaugural FAMA festival in Mumbai and Delhi.
Holt is represented by Artereal Gallery, Sydney and his work has been exhibited in numerous prizes and exhibitions including the ‘The Churchie’, ‘Paddington’ and ‘KAAF’ prizes in 2017. His work is held in public collections such as the Artbank collection, and private collections both in Australia & Internationally.
Luke Ryan O’Connor
Luke Ryan O’Connor, is a Sydney based ceramic artist. An artist in residence at Kil.n.it Experimental Ceramic Studios (known for their explorative, avant-garde attitude to the production of fine art ceramics), O’Connor is fast establishing a reputation for himself as an artist whose practice involves utilising the traditional utilitarian language of ceramics and reconfiguring it in imaginative and alternative ways.
Approaching making in a playful manner his sculptures incorporate a combination of throwing on the potter’s wheel, coiled hand building and haphazard slip cast additions. While referencing the utilitarian language embedded in the history of ceramics the work remains formally and functionally ambiguous.
Accretions; lumps, bumps, growths, additions, deposits, appendages, have always been part of Luke Ryan’s objects but previously were forms that he fashioned from solid clay. Now they are hollow, slip cast forms created from found objects in a process that retains their surface stories and textures of stipples and scars. He gathers rocks, broken bricks and fragments of building rubble, seeking out discards and remnants that have a former history. Materials he says: “… would otherwise be discarded or unnoticed.” His latest body of work introduces Luke’s expressionistic use of thick, opaque viscous glazes that slump, slip and ooze like creamy candle wax; the coagulations dripping and undulating like iced confections off selected peg-like splinters and body parts jutting from the vessel surfaces.
The appendages are reborn in gaudy sheen, dolled-up in metallic drag queen glitz of gold and platinum lustre, dressing up and texturing the curves and surfaces of his otherwise conventional wheel thrown vessels.” They also bring a kind of ‘neo-archaeology’ to his extra-terrestrial looking works. Acknowledging the centuries–long and cyclical connection of ceramics, often only as shards, as the material evidence of daily lives and apocalyptic events for archaeologists
Conceptually his practice plays to notions of queer adversity, to celebrating scars and dissociating enhancement from conventional ideals of perfection. His work has been exhibited across Australia as well as recent international shows in New Zealand & Germany.
Luke Ryan O’Connor is currently featured in Art Collector Magazine’s list of ’50 things collectors should know’. He is currently working towards an upcoming solo exhibition at Bega Valley Regional Art Gallery to be held in late 2021.
Having developed a cult following for her alluring and fascinating paintings, sculptures and installations which mash together references as diverse as horror films and Chinese mythology, Zhang’s new works are articulated in the artist’s signature sugary palette. The seductive relationship between attraction and repulsion is key in Zhang’s practice – she is an artist who has become known for work which explores the dichotomy and tensions which exist between the beautiful and strange, the monstrous and cute. Louise’s work may be familiar from her collaborations with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 4a Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, the City of Sydney and Carriageworks.
Most recently, in November 2020, Louise Zhang had the honour of having three significant artworks acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria. The suite of works entering the permanent collection includes two major new paintings and a sculpture, exploring a range of personal and cultural influences, including Zhang’s religious upbringing, her experiences as a Third-Culture Kid growing up Chinese-Australian, and traditional Chinese symbolism. Louise Zhang’s artworks are currently on display at the NGV Australia, Federation Square until March 2021.
The acquisition of these works for the National Gallery of Australia was made possible by MECCA Brands and their ongoing partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria. Since 2016, MECCA founder and co-CEO, Jo Horgan, and MECCA Brands have supported the NGV to acquire works by contemporary Australian female artists for the NGV Collection. As part of this partnership Louise Zhang was chosen to create MECCA’s limited edition 2020 holiday packaging, following on in the legacy of prestigious artists including Rebecca Baumann, Tammy Kanat and Tanya Schultz.
In the words of Katharina Prugger, Assistant Curator – Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria: “Whether you encounter Louise Zhang’s artwork at NGV this summer or through her collaboration with MECCA for their Holiday 2020 limited-edition packaging, her beautifully rendered imagery and lush colours will no doubt seduce and draw you into her world.”
View all of the artworks in this online exhibition below.
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