The current exciting exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries highlights two artists : works by J VALENZUELA DIDI entitled The Quiet Life, and pieces by SAM HOPKINS .
J VALENZUELA DIDI
J Valenzuela Didi was born in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in 1977. The self-taught Brisbane artist draws on the emergence of patterns and geometric shapes to explore common scenes and signposts of modern life. In his paintings, familiar urban landscapes become haunting and alien reminders of the beauty and character of the present-day. He says ‘ In my artworks I use urban spaces and commonplace objects to explore the transience of life. In the works I want to show the glorious splendour in everyday life and the melancholy that accompanies the awareness of mortality. I have a folder that I fill with interesting pictures of everyday moments. As I’ve returned to this file over the years, I’ve found that the images have evolved over time. I have altered and displaced the figures in these pictures to echo a transformation’
Works in his current display are :
Nina By The Shore – In this work Nina sits, quietly contemplative. She is barefoot, sunhat off, sitting on wonderfully textured rocks, gazing at the pebbled shore. Windswept trees are behind her and we can see a faraway, almost invisible long pier. The eye is drawn by the composition to the left hand side of the painting, and the verticality is emphasised.
Five Sisters of the Maritime – we can see only three and a bit though! The Sisters appear to be having much fun – they are fishing at night , under a starry sky. They wear full ‘traditional’ habits, dark blue with a white wimple.
The Salon des Refusés was initiated by the S.H. Ervin Gallery in 1992 in response to the large number of works entered into the Archibald Prize which were not selected for display in the official exhibition. The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most high profile and respected awards which attracts hundreds of entries each year and the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s ‘alternative’ selection has become a much anticipated feature of the Sydney art scene.
Each year the S,H. Ervin Gallery panel is invited to go behind the scenes of the judging process for the annual Archibald Prize for portraiture and Wynne Prize for landscape painting and figure sculpture at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, to select an exhibition from the many hundreds of works entered in both prizes but not chosen for the official award exhibition. Continue reading SALON DES REFUSES 2020 @ S.H.ERVIN GALLERY→
The current exhibition on at Traffic Jam Galleries is by two artists – Tracy Dods ( hers is called Upon Reflection ) and J Valenzuela Didi( his is called Ballad of the Daily Pilgrimage ) both artists who have exhibited at Traffic Jam Galleries before.
In Dod’s work we usually never see the faces of the people depicted , as they are facing away from the viewer (an exception to the rule is Intangible Assets) .While she lives just past the Blue Mountains , she is often in Martin Place researching and soaking up the atmosphere. She seeks to provide both a comical and sombre commentary on her subjects by re-contextualising lawyers, barristers and suited businessmen into the unexpected, expansive, bleached beach and coastal landscapes that are her trademark style . She is interested in light and reflection The men in her works symbolise government and big business power. Dods attempting to capture the various subject’s inner life .Her exhibition consists of
.Whitewash – where five besuited businessmen in bare feet stand right on the tideline at the beach. There is barely a cloud in the sky but Dodds also emphasizes the wonderful reflection in the water. What is also important is the row of beach huts on the left hand side of the painting ( another symbol of government and power perhaps ?)
WarmUp depicts seven people in the middle distance f the painting in black swimwear.The horizon line is at roughly the top 1/3 of the work and the painting is of the beach all white and rather foggy. The people are quite small in the work , dominated by the landscape and there seems to be a feeling of ‘us ‘ vs ‘them’ as one person is separate from them – or are they joining the rest of the group ?
Going Forward depicts two people (a couple facing parting and death?) with the sea depicted as delightfully dappled waves. Breakers shows two women in swimsuits in the middle of the painting with roiling, crashing waves behind them ( life’s pressures? ) Will they be caught and wrecked by the tide?
Surf shows two people fishing with hand nets at the edge of the water, while other people are specks in the water.
Shelter shows a suited businessman with a large red and white striped umbrella standing at the edge of the waterline against a very ominous grey sky.
Ire Ad Largum is a work where two bewigged barristers in billowing robes at the centre of the picture dominate the composition . There are light waves at the edge of the surf and the composition is cut by the horizon line at the top third of the painting defined by a long line of trees.
Contemplation is an almost all white piece, with a young woman in a green top and a long white skirt , carrying her shoes and walking right on the water line.
Constitutional is a crowd scene and shows many people walking along the beach to the huge city scape that occupies the centre of the work .
In Intangible Assets we see a tall bewigged barrister leading a group of small children in green headwear (insect masks? ) right along the water’s edge . While the sea is relatively calm you can still see the ebb and flow of the water.
In J Valenzuela Didi‘s exhibition Ballad of the Daily Pilgrimage we see how Didi explores life’s fluidity and uncertainty in everyday scenes of rather surreal stillness. – ‘ A place where signposts of human existence emerge as shrines that pay tribute to the passing of time. Forgotten factories, traffic signs and bridges, freed of purpose exist as divine monuments on a journey through this alien landscape. The new works in this exhibition tell tales of this voyage, they are a ballad of the daily pilgrimage.” – J Valenzuela Didi
Like Dods, J Valenzuela Didi has been a finalist and prize-winner in several prestigious art prizes .
Country Feedback symbolizes the barrier between town and country ( and possibly in this era of Covid, state borders ) with the boom lines of the train crossing up so we can cross- leading to an extended yellow field and ominous clouds. Isle and Port Song has a strong triangular composition because of the verticality of the barriers and how they are organized , but there is also a strong curve in the curve of the grey road barrier . Dry growth is contrasted with lush green vegetation creating a line about a third of the way up of the painting.
The Harvester’s Tune is a work dominated by portentous sky , showing a fence and silo on very dry ground . Have they been abandoned ? Misty Mountain Hop has a glorious pinky/purple sky ( sunset ? sunrise ?) behind the strongly defined both curved and straight lines of the cold heavy aloof highway.
National Anthem again features green vegetation contrasted with the strong lines of the train lines and the crossing barriers .
A Midnight Requiem features a phenomenal starry night sky , against which we see the strong diagonal lines of the pilons and silos.
North Country Blues is grey , cold and impassive – an anonymous highway with a single streetlamp against a grey sky.
Halcyon Hymnal is quite abstract in its grey tones .Is it at dawn or sunset ?
Industrial Sonata is another night scene – a curve in the road, a hard concrete silo and a highlit circular object are viewed through trees.
An arresting combined exhibition
The current exhibition by Tracy Dods and J Valenzuela Didi runs at Traffic Jam Galleries September 18 – 9 October 2020
The current exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries is mysterious and full of an atmosphere of ominous languor.
Born in Malaysia J Valenzuela Didi now lives in Brisbane, QLD.
Make sure to examine the street facing sides of the windows before you enter as some paintings included in the exhibition are displayed there.
This exhibition is inspired by an article about NASA and sound recordings from Mars. Didi seeks to celebrate the quiet moments of life , how they are an escape from reality.
There is a great sense of isolation and mystery in the paintings, a sense of detachment and seeking to escape. You can also see the possible influence of works by Geoffrey Smart with the use of precise geometric shapes, depiction of roadworks and street signs for example (as in ‘I Want To Go Home’ but home is the barrel of a gun) with its stark concrete of the expressway and a solitary would be hitchhiker.
A common visual motif in this exhibition is the setting of the swimming pool and/or the inclusion of a Hills Hoist, with a lonely person enclosed behind a large fence. There is also a great sense of isolation and loss, the collapse of hidden ordinary everyday suburbia, unspoken tales left untold. It is as if the people inhabiting the pictures are trapped in an oppressive, enclosed, urban environment with the sharply defining lines of the backyard fence.
‘Yesterday’s Song’ with its large fence and swing set, the woman sitting on a bench nearby has a melancholy atmosphere – mourning the loss of her children? Others in this series include Is There Anybody Out There ? with its very strong geometrical lines of composition, and a woman staring at the stars . Echo’s Despair alludes to the Greek myth but here shows a woman in a blue and white checked dress at the edge of a pool , looking for something or someone. The composition s broken by the large strong hedge fence almost right in the middle of the painting . The reddish sky is somewhat boiling and alarming – is a bushfire coming ? And trees are again on the other side of the fence.
‘Pressed In A Book’ features a woman reading on the grass , with a single item on the huge Hills Hoist. There is a great sense of oppressive isolation and enclosure – the fence that surrounds her is huge , the selective shadows rather portentous.She seems engrossed in her book, oblivious to the glorious blue sky. And then there is ‘I’m Sailing Away’ a woman dreaming in a deck chair. In some ways it is rather surreal .The landscape is dominated by the rolling grass, huge hedge fence and the Hills Hoist.
In this exhibition there’s also a series of paintings depicting houses in suburbia with hidden secrets – ‘Leaving Sorrow’ with its very refined and defined controlled lines of the house and fence, all neat and boxed – but look for the moving boxes , and how all this contrasts with the vigorous explosion of growing trees next door. ‘And Tomorrow Never Came’, with its diagonal composition , the house all shuttered up , now cold and uninhabited. ‘Strolling down Christopher Street’ depicts a magnificent house on the curve of the road , with manicured lawn . The stars in the background are rolling in.
Two works are striking – In The Wake of the Harvest , with its houses and telegraph poles but also important is the use of the graph squares as if mapping or recording the street .
And the rather small work ‘Will You Still Love Me? ‘ which again uses graph squares in a sort of ‘time lapse photography ‘painting of a beautiful orchid in a rectangular pot as it grows and dies .In some ways this is perhaps a contemporary reference to Dutch eighteenth century flower paintings .
A striking , thought provoking exhibition
The current exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries J VALENZUELA DIDI’s A Symphony on Mars runs until the 16th December 2019