IN THE GALLERY: Songs from the Penumbra

Juan Ford

8 Jul - 19 Aug 2003

An exhibition of painted portraits of Australians singing, lit up starkly as if on stage, displayed together with large format paintings of the Australian urban landscape. The subjects appear to be in a state of rapture, bliss even, though upon closer inspection reveal slight anxiety. This anxiety reveals itself in subtle gestures, a lightly furrowed brow, or clenched fingers. The paintings are executed in oil on aluminium, and are engraved with complex patterning, revealing the aluminium substrate through the painted surface.

Ford has used the metaphor of the swan song; the diva’s final performance to represent an unease he detects and feels amongst Australians generally as we inched towards conflict, and potential redefining of the Australian character as seen from both within and abroad. The question is: Could our easy and fortunate existence here be under threat? These paintings do not only reflect an interpretation of the current political climate, but moreover are an attempt to represent the mire of fears and aspirations of the Australian people in these newly volatile times.