Featuring Mike Parr, Robert Owen, John Nixon, Dale Frank, Jenny Watson and Tony Clark.
Exhibition Dates: 19 April – 6 May 1984
A new armoury of artistic identification is stockpiled in the galleries now: an Emblematic that resumes a craft of imagery forging the personal as a facade of "dumb" insignia, a token panoply replacing the obsolete conceits of the public artist. The repertoire of "private symbols" that heralds the "poiesis" of new figuration has already girdled reference to social context or public domain and stowed them as an embalmed bouquet of secretive metaphors. Yet it is difficult, strictly speaking, to call the declarative privacy of these images a mode of "symbolism", for what they call up or recall is only the endless chequer of that facade, not any obscure psychic totem. Identification is no longer a process of recognizing signatures as marks of creative origin, nor icons as symptoms of a protean sensibility, but rather is a matter of noting mottos that assemble as the imperatives of artifice and simultaneously disaccumulate as the aphasic memoirs of an emotionality passed away. Passion, fear, anxiety are no longer figures flashing on a textual surface, like sunspots or flares signalling a mutable nightmarish interior. Here and now, the drama of personal identity has nothing to do with the energetic exchange and communication between interiority and exteriority. On the contrary, and against all appearances, it is miraged in the irony of an Expression that stages Temperament in the ceremonial mannerism of the daydream, where dynamic correspondences collapse phantastically into inert singularity.
Dreams and Nightmares can take us to the horizon of the visionary, where, as emblematics supplant semantics, we would witness a pristine subjectivity winking out at the very moment of its most spectacular, emblazoned resurrection.
Ted Colless 1984