Basic Instinct

02.03.2011 to 26.03.2011



Del Kathryn Barton, Lionel Bawden, Michael Cusack, Patrick Doherty, Lorraine Heller-Nicholas, Locust Jones, Rhys Lee, Simon O’Carrigan, Lisa Roet, Aida Tomescu, Philip Wolfhagen


Basic Instinct is a group exhibition of contemporary Australian artists for whom drawing is an essential element of their practice. This exhibition aims to locate the intrinsic, subliminal and instinctive quality that drawing holds for the exhibiting artists.


Del Kathryn Barton is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading figurative painters. At the core of her practice however, is her drawing. Barton’s work exemplifies the potential risk involved in the act of drawing, by committing to existing presently in the drawing process. Barton also presents through her drawing the vulnerability of the artist by channelling an immediate, innate and basic instinct through her markings and lines. In this very personal manner, Barton engages with the subconscious realm allowing for motifs to recur such as orifices, coloured eyes act as portals to the soul, female and male genetalia, along with androgynous figures.


In the three-dimensional work of Lionel Bawden the artist utilises the physicality of the pencil as a point of departure from what is traditionally considered drawing. Using pencils en masse Bawden creates sculptural works that take the material of drawing and turn it on its head. The notion of a drawing, held in delicate suspension inside each work is central to his vision. Each form contains a kind of tension with many kilometers of line frozen in a state of permanent expectation- the drawing never taking place so the form itself becomes a vehicle for containing possibility. Although static, the forms possess a kind of dynamism- the feeling of something taking shape. These hexagonal coloured pencils act as a sculptural material, reconfiguring into amorphous shapes. Here the rich qualities of colour are explored as pencils are carved, shaped and fused together. Bawden explores themes of flux, transformation, rhythm and repetition as preconditions to our experience of the physical world.


Michael Cusack employs his emblematic minimalism and restrained tonal palette via works on paper. His work often displays distinctive painterly style characteristic of textural smudgings, scrapings and markings. The interchangeable exchange between painting and drawing allows for experimentation with new materials and adds to the fragility of Cusack’s lyrical sensibility.
The mainstay of Patrick Doherty’s art making practice is drawing. Doherty depicts imaginary scenes rich in symbolic iconography. These often large-scale drawings on unstretched canvases, present a range of isolated encounters and interactions between figures and objects, creating an overall story via flat tableau-like landscapes. Doherty’s loose naive style explores the instinctive aspect of drawing. The drawn line runs free as the viewer searches for a sense of refined order or moral to be found in the stories of vice and folly on offer in Doherty’s work.


Drawing is given a different approach via animation by Lorraine Heller-Nicholas. Heller-Nicholas creates spontaneous and organic drawings and transforms these humble sketches via ‘rotoscoping’ (an animation technique that involves tracing over live-action film, frame by frame), stop-motion and various hand drawn techniques. Gestural lines and endearingly makeshift transitions between Heller-Nicholas’ drawings build on one another to present a loose, often entertaining narrative for the viewer. Advice to those in love, Fridge and No covey the vibrancy of drawing in motion.


Locust Jones creates drawings with impulsive and violent scrawling works, scribbling with pens, pencils and oil sticks. Jones’s work comments on global political issues, notions of isolation and challenges to the status quo via literal rambling texts and imagery such as trains, deserts, war zones, planes, ships and cars. These crowded compositions sourced from newspapers and photojournalism suggest claustrophobia and above all an creative mental process that exposes the artist’s consciousness through drawing, specifically in this exhibition with a range of globe drawings.


The subconscious is further realised in the works on paper by Rhys Lee. Lee employs a high level of spontaneity that conveys a speedy and experimental technique. His energetic and vibrant colour palette represents faces that simultaneously disappear and emerge from their murky backgrounds. Often the central point of contact in these works – the eyes – dart out, engaging and disturbing the viewer. These faces act as memories from the artists’ mind instinctively depicted.


Simon O’Carrigan works across the disciplines of animation, collage and painting. In Basic Instinct, O’Carrigan will present a range of hand-drawn animation works. These animations focus on a strong narrative component surrounding the figure in movement derived from still images.


As a multidisciplinary artist also, Lisa Roet’s charcoal drawings act as a cathartic process and as integral studies for her three-dimensional practice. The immersive aspect of the act of drawing for Roet allows for her continued exploration into the relations between humans and primates, challenging some of the great paradigms and theories relating to evolution and creationism. Roet’s practice began with drawing, observing and sketching primates in their enclosures in zoos, research centres and forests. The aspect of documentation in the drawing process is also identified through Roet’s work.


Aida Tomescu’s drawings express the high energy, spontaneity, subtle nuances and internal rhythms within her work that are also located in her wider practice of painting. These drawings are the result of an integrated whole generated by Tomescu’s intense and rich worked surfaces. Tomescu’s surfaces are scraped back and reworked many times revealing previous layers that become vital and active components of the image. The persistent searching line in her drawings lead to ongoing discoveries of experience. In these drawings, feelings of vulnerability and intimacy are suggested through the drawn line.


As a painter of the Australian landscape, Philip Wolfhagen’s work exclusively depicts the Tasmanian landscape, the terrain of his personal origins. His work is physical, dense in its application and sombre in mood and tonality. In Basic Instinct we are privileged to present a range of drawings that convey a direct sense of the artists hand. These drawings act as companions to his paintings and are the result of a deeply experienced, enduring engagement with the subject of the landscape.