Transitions. By Kate Bender and Keith Bender. Form Studio and Gallery 1/30 Aurora Avenue, Queanbeyan. Until March 14.
Transitions consists of 15 oil paintings by Kate Bender and seven mild steel sculptures by Keith Bender. While these are essentially two exhibitions there are nevertheless certain shared elements (formal and aesthetic) that give their pairing an attractive visual complicity.
Kate Bender's paintings are about light and colour. They aim to achieve the condition of music in the way that that art form embraces sensorial (and other) experiences into a single Gestalt. There is a clear sense of the energy of light as it surrounds and subsumes the forms that float within it. In some of her work the artist implies deep spatial configurations, entry to which is through a range of pictorial devices. The use of tube-like "structures" predominates. The strongest works adopting this device dominate the exhibition space. Their dominance is in some ways distracting and the repetition of form within a varied palette does not soften their impact. Rather than invite introspective contemplation or meditation they are about an activated and energised pictorial construct that needs its own space free of any visual interference no matter how peripheral. The strongest of these (Transitions #1, #2, #5 and #6) lose their individual force within the context of the overall display.
For me the strongest works in the exhibition are the abstracted "landscape" forms – Transitions #10, #11 and #15. These present as atmospheric dreamscapes, otherworldly and quietly seductive. The amorphous forms are rhythmical and flow across the picture plane in movements that simultaneously lateral and spatially layered. Reverberations of late-19th-century symbolist landscapes are certainly present for me in these evocative tonal pictorialisations.
Keith Bender's sculptural compositions play with the elision of the real and the abstract, with those metamorphic transitions that intrigue and attract. The interplay of voids and solids is carefully balanced. The activated spatial configurations imbue an energetic spatial flow that surrounds and enmeshes each piece. The dynamic spatial thrusts are contrasted with the linear flatness of the constituent steel elements to produce delightful and playful combinations. There is an almost zoomorphic character to much of the work. This instils an air of playful insouciance as the forms appear to amble across their plinths.
Transitions is an exhibition that offers individual insight into (some of) the many ways we view our world. It is an invitation to explore rather than a set of definitive statements.