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