John Hurrell – 23 November, 2012
With Wealleans and Fritsch you've got two strong-willed personalities that might possibly create an interesting hybrid without either one dominating. Both have had very successful collaborations with other artists: Wealleans with Francis Upritchard and Fritsch with Gavin Hipkins. And with Fritsch and Wealleans both being interested in the ornamentation of the body it makes good sense to team them up.
Rohan Wealleans and Karl Fritsch
31 October - 24 November 2012
Looking at this exhibition, let’s think about collaboration, that curious method of getting pairs of artists to exhibit together in a manner that is not simply two solo shows juxtaposed or mingled. Ideally it involves showcasing a mutual commonality or else generating a third ‘artist’ that is distinctly separate - a new creative persona.
With Wealleans and Fritsch you’ve got two strong-willed personalities that might possibly create an interesting hybrid without either one dominating. Both have had very successful collaborations with other artists: Wealleans with Francis Upritchard and Fritsch with Gavin Hipkins. And with both being interested in the ornamentation of the body - Fritsch with his rings and Wealleans with his carved paint necklaces (hanging off sculpture) and decorated naked women - it makes good sense to team them up.
Wealleans here presents some of his characteristically bulbous, ganglionlike sculptures - a large, pock-marked protruding wall rectangle with threads of laminated paint prisms - and a similarly festooned freestanding paint and polystyrene creature seated on an acrylic-smeared roll of cardboard. On the walls he has framed gouache works that depict intricate layered webs or nets, with lines of beads woven through. Fritsch’s works on the walls include some rings dangling from pinned up cut out photographs, a form of innovative sculptural collage.
The real surprise is a bookcase with various trays of Fritsch rings on its shelves, and below them, some semi-circular ‘cakes’ of thick rubbery paint - uncarved layers that are part of a process Wealleans normally keeps hidden. It is an interesting pairing to have these solid chunks available for viewing with the delicately airy, finely sliced ‘honey-combed’ Wealleans webs on the walls. In terms of mass one seems to compensate for the other.
Fritsch‘s presence seems comparatively understated here, though his rings (really sculpture for the fingers) provide a lot of pleasure and amusement for careful and determined looking. Like Wealleans with painting (and indeed sculpture) he has reinvented how audiences can look at his genre - jewellery. What a ring can be has been forever changed, though with some of these particularly raw items the mind haemorrhages trying to envisage them on a person’s hand, they dominate so. The whole fist, moving arm and clothed torso would become sculpture too. They have such personality they take over.