Opens December 7th, 2007
“The Collections exhibition is about the items people accummulate and surround themselves with. Objects now nostalgic or strange to 21st century culture are examined through these paintings, so reflecting people’s interests, inspirations and personalities. Compiled together like a Cabinet of Curiosities, the images pose questions about the motivation to collect, accumulate and display.”
Victoria Reichelt 2007
Victoria Reichelt takes the most ordinary of subjects and through her
meticulous method, suffuses them with an air of latent grandeur. In the Classical idiom, she rejects the flamboyant and gestural in favour of a very formal elegance. Stark in their simplicity and stripped of extraneous detail, Reichelt’s paintings are quiet, reflective studies of objects in limbo - objects that have been superseded by newer, updated models but are not yet old and precious enough to be considered antiques, or indeed, even of ‘retro’ interest. It is only her decision to paint a particular piece that makes it special - the original utilitarian value having long been forgotten.
Reichelt’s subjects and photo-realistic technique suggest detachment and an absence of emotional engagement but as she explains, this is not at all the case: “I want to emphasize the irony of privileging (by lovingly painting) these completely unlikely items and challenging what people expect to see in a painting.” Each object portrayed in the works was carefully sourced from a local thrift store or overseas market stall. Countless hours have then been spent in the studio, getting as close as possible to the thing itself. Through contemplation and acute observation, Reichelt seeks to isolate and then translate that object’s aesthetic essence: “My work is an investigation into the very act of painting. The process of collecting and then photographing the subject-material in a controlled studio setting holds as much importance as the subsequent putting of paint on canvas.”
Visual impact also results from Reichelt’s innate understanding of pictorial space - her exquisitely rendered images casting soft shadows across vacant white backdrops. The painstaking precision of execution, compositional austerity and restricted palette seem to critique and parody the gaudy excesses of today’s rampant consumerism. Subversively mute, these out-moded machines, leather suitcases and snow-dome souvenirs still emit a sense of personal history and broken narrative. Therein may lie the underlying impetus to collect and displa “things so well known, they are not well seen.”
Twenty-eight year old Victoria Reichelt studied Fine Art at the Queensland College of Art, graduating in 2005 having completed her Doctor of Visual Arts with a semester research exchange at the Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland. She has been shortlisted for a number of major art prizes including the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize, Conrad Jupiter's Art Prize, Canberra Contemporary Art Prize and was most recently awarded Highly Commended in the RIPE Art & Australia/ANZ Private Bank Contemporary Art Award . Last year she won the $10,000 Kenilworth Art Prize and this year she was awarded a $10,000 New Work Grant from the Australia Council for an exhibition at Linden Art Space in Melbourne in 2008. Her work has been included in the exhibitions SMS: Artists Use Text at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Covered at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space and most recently in the Arc Biennial at the QUT Art Museum in Brisbane. In 2006 Victoria lived for a year in Montpellier, France (sharing a studio with friend and fellow painter VR Morrison), making the work for the exhibition Focus held at the Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne in April 2007. She currenlty resides in Cardiff, Wales and is represented by the Dianne Tanzer Gallery in Victoria and Schubert Contemporary in Queensland.
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