Various artists:Hi-Vis Futures.Canberra Museum + Gallery, Civic Square, Canberra City. Until February 1, 2020. Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday noon to 5pm.
Hi-Vis Futures is a challenging exhibition about the catastrophe that is already upon us - climate change.
The show is a bit of a family affair. Mandy Martin the painter, Alexander Boynes, her son who works in new media arts, and Martin's son-in-law married to her daughter Laura, Tristen Parr, a cellist who has provided a collaborative soundtrack for the show - have all joined forces.
It is a disturbing assault on the senses - from the introductory text panels set against neon-coloured blocks that are painful to the eye, through huge highly textured paintings overlaid with projections and the haunting sound. In this exhibition, the newish Senior Curator Visual Arts at CMAG, Virginia Rigney, has left her mark.
Mandy Martin has been drawn to industrial landscapes for over four decades and is used to painting on a grand scale. Her immense Red Ochre Cove (1987) in the Main Committee Room of the new Parliament House has become one of the best-known public paintings from the time with its celebration of the Indigenous landscape seen through the filter of European settlement.
Mandy Martin is essentially a romantic at heart with an expression of awe and fascination in the landscape. Like few Australian artists, she can work on a grand scale without appearing pompous and arrogant.
Her huge dark and brooding canvas, Wanderers in the Desert of the Real. Vivitur Ex Rapto (2014) is a highlight of the exhibition, where the palette is controlled and subdued.
Although many of the pieces may have their origins in local and anecdotal circumstances, Martin has the power to transcend this and make a more universal statement.
She is quoted in the catalogue as saying, "My painting is a humanist critique of the 'quarry vision' afflicting our country and at the root of the environmental collapses we are currently living."
Boynes, in this exhibition, is to some extent infected by the bleakness of his mother's vision and, in contrast with some of the more chromatically vibrant pieces that he has been previously exhibiting, adopts a dark, almost monochrome palette.
Also, in what is a pleasant change in his art, the human mark grows increasingly apparent as many more of his marks are drawn on to the aluminium rather than made photographically.
His piece The Cost of Lies (2019) has a dramatic and sombre majesty with an increasingly disturbing emotional note.
The exhibition is presented between two very large horizontal installations, Luminous relic (2017) and Rewriting the score (2019), shown at either end of the gallery, like visual and conceptual bookends for the exhibition.
Each consists of a very large, highly textured painting by Martin, a time-loop multiple projection by Boynes and a melancholy and evocative musical score by Parr.
The first is more literal and with a strong narrative content, the latter more abstracted and universal.
Luminous relic is an incredibly ambitious piece.
It was commissioned by the Geelong Art Gallery and based on the industrial landscape around that city, especially near Corio Bay.
Martin has employed layers of ochres, sands, iridescent and fluorescent pigments to build up in texture the industrial complex and to morph it into the ice shelf.
Boynes in his time-lapse footage juxtaposes images of heavy industry with melting glaciers as a metaphor for climate change.
The title is adopted from the historian Tom Griffiths' book The Art of Time Travel where Antarctica is described as "a luminous relic, a clue to lost ages".
Parr's music score accompanies this six-minute cycle.
This is a dark exhibition on the most critically important issue of our time.
Its message is that the time for talking is over and that we must act now.