Belinda Fox and Melinda Schawel: Roots & wings: works on paper and sculpture.
Beaver Galleries, 81 Denison Street, Deakin. Closes June 16. OpenTuesday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm.
Belinda Fox and Melinda Schawel have shown jointly in two earlier exhibitions at this gallery over the past decade. There exists a certain aesthetic affinity in the work of the two artists, but also evidence of two very different artistic personalities.
Belinda Fox burst onto the Melbourne art scene in the late 1990s as a printmaker making abstracted, complex and challenging images. There is little evidence of this in the present exhibition, instead she has been drawn to the exotic flora and fauna of her "current adopted country of Singapore". Sadly there are only two prints here, the rest are watercolours with drawings, plus a couple of small bronzes cast in editions of 10.
Fade into You is the major piece in this show, both in its scale and price. Complicated and ambitious, there is an attempt made to balance swirling rhythmic active lines with masses of subdued colour. Collage is employed to disrupt the uniformity of surface and there are several quite effective passages of paint, but as a whole it fails to hold one's attention. Perhaps it is a little too complicated, over-layered and overworked to be fully resolved and to be completely visually convincing.
The two most successful pieces by Fox at the exhibition are Push and Load, both mixed media pieces where etching and woodcut techniques are employed and the surfaces are enhanced with drawing. There is an effective play between tension and release, linear articulation and melting pastel blue colours and between figurative form and abstraction.
Melinda Schawel in the past has been a more rigorous conceptual artist than Fox, but in this exhibition a strong lyricism prevails coupled with a passion for exploring complex, yet subtle surfaces. She appears to be an artist who acts as a medium surrendering to her process of work, so that an external form grows out of an inner chaos and a new reality assumes a palpable form.
The Cluster series forms the backbone of her exhibition and it is her finest work I have seen to date. The intricacy and mystic beauty of her small created microcosms is quite remarkable as the viewer is drawn into an exploration of the breathing nuances of her surfaces. Within this delicacy, there is also something which appears as quite fragile and in strange way inherently tragic.
Her clusters seem to have been breathed into being and are then suspended in space, while bathed in luminosity, only to subsequently fade and merge into chaos. It is this ephemeral quality that enhances the trembling beauty of her art.
Fox and Schawel are two artists who find inspiration in nature and translate it into art in terms of their own unique responses.