This is a small but exquisitely presented exhibition currently showing at the Salerno Gallery in Glebe.
Trina Collins, who works under the artistic nom de guerre ‘Poncho Army’ was named in June 2012 by ArtsHub as one of the top ten street artists in Australia. Her work is held in collections around the world including New York, Japan, London, Melbourne and Sydney.
Known for her detailed line work and signature splatter paint skies, she has appeared in numerous gallery shows, been a finalist in multiple art prizes, and exhibited alongside many leading urban and contemporary artists including Banksy, Kid Zoom, ROA, Vexta, Arthur Apanski and Anthony Lister.
From June 2012 to June 2013 Poncho Army was the artist in residence at Wollongong City Gallery and this exhibition has just finished showing there, moved to Glebe and then is transferring to Melbourne in October . She is now involved with an art studio in Coniston, just outside Wollongong .
To paraphrase the press release – FIGHT or FLIGHT is a 13 piece linear series of work, fairy tale like, that tells the story of an old man whose home is about to be destroyed. As the aged man is left with no strength in his now withered body, two young girls take it upon themselves to help him win his battle.
The journey takes the girls from the city to the mountains, deep into the forest and out to the ocean. Along the way they cross paths with others who are also faced with the decision of whether to fight or take flight.
The series explores contrasts,–between urban and rural spaces, internal and external realities, joy and melancholy, old and young, win or loss, between freedom and confinement, and between humanity and the environment.
The works centre on themes such as feelings of claustrophobia in an increasingly controlled society, the nightmare of being forgotten and abandoned, and the relief of finding community and of being found. (Sounds like Chekov or Kafka perhaps ?) .
The exhibition is a combination of stencil art, screen prints and hand drawn illustrations, using ink and aerosol over up to 12 layers of a hand drawn illustration base to create the strong yet fragile and stirring works.
The series has a mysterious dreamlike quality about it in parts. It is bright bold and colourful, lyrical and soaring, yet also disturbing. There is a fabulous use of line and colour combined with dynamic composition.
The opening work, ‘Demolish This Past’, in dramatic, vibrant red and black, has dominant lines that tilt and lead the eye towards the centre of the page. ‘Let the tracks take us back’ is an eerie huge green steam train roaring towards us at night like the Hogwarts Express. Green is also used for the truck in the looming forest in ‘Who Do you Trust ?’ The two swan works (‘Fight or Flight’, which gives the exhibition its name, and ‘Out To Sea I Can See ‘) are haunting, beautifully drawn and multi-layered. You can feel the rush of their startled feathers and hear their hiss!
For most of the works the stars and light are very significant , especially in ‘On the Hunt’ and ‘I know You’re There’ with the yellow scratched circles of light and the multilayered backdrops of scintillating stars as well as a sense of mystery and tension . The Key is a close up of one of the girls – almost like a spy story illustration- and again observe the circular composition in that work. ‘Tug of War’ is a glorious depiction of a boat at night in the harbour. You can feel the cold. The inky mysterious catch might perhaps change everything …
If you look closely you will notice that, “There is something in each work from the work previous to it to tie it all together” Poncho explains, “and if you go through all of the works it forms a landscape. In one of the last works, when a swan is flying above the landscape, ‘Out to Sea I can See’, you can actually pin point the locations of all of the other works from this aerial view.”
A vibrant, haunting and lyrical exhibition, well worth a look.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT is currently showing at the Salerno Gallery until September 22 then travels to Melbourne.
For more information visit the Gallery’s web link on,-http://www.salernogallery.com/exhibitions/fight-or-flight/. Alternatively, there is the artists’ own website on, -http://www.ponchoarmy.com