Centre for the Arts
Hunter Street, Hobart
Exhibition 24 August – 14 September 2007.
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FULL FRONTAL: FOREWORD from Catalogue
This exhibition has evolved from research on the painter Dale Hickey. Hickey was one of six mid-career artists nominated for detailed analysis in the final phase of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant between the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2002-5). The Research Group of Jonathan Holmes, Paul Zika, Maria Kunda and Jeff Malpas (from the University of Tasmania) and David Hansen (from TMAG) investigated the role that solo survey exhibitions played in the presentation of Australian art in public art museums over the past four decades. The original proposal was to mount satellite group exhibitions at the Plimsoll Gallery in tandem with each of the resultant solo survey shows at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. While the exhibition Dale Hickey: Life in a box is now scheduled for the Ian Potter Museum of Art/The University of Melbourne in February 2008, I was still keen to develop a related exhibition to be seen in Hobart, but scheduling has determined that this exhibition pre-empts the major survey. From around 1982 Dale Hickey has concentrated almost exclusively on his immediate working environment and the objects that exist within it. There is a constant reworking/rearranging of a range of things – easel, trestle table, blank canvas, auto-tray and a range of smaller objects – presented frontally within a shallow stage-like space. There is a continual ambiguous play between the objects represented within the painted room and on the illustrated canvas, and the delineation of the canvas itself (where does it start and end). The blank canvas becomes an object, or the simple grid division on the surface is confused with the frame of the window. This exhibition focuses on artists dealing with ordinary deadpan objects found in their studio and their translation into images. Furthermore it is the compression of pictorial space (even where there is the incorporation of the third dimension) and the orchestrated frontality that confronts the viewer. Paul Zika