• Kat Johnston Sketch: another girl, sporting unnaturally huge eyes... one day I will get sick of this look, but it may take a while - I still find them enchanting.
  • I’ve been meaning to mention this for a little while now, but I’ve not had the right feeling to sit down and type for a while, nor think deeply enough to form a well-written piece on this. Let’s give it a go, shall we?

    After writing about his piece in the Temperature 2 exhibit at the Museum of Brisbane, Quilt for Melanie, Karl de Waal was kind enough to invite me along to his exhibition opening for Purge, at the Doggett Street Studio. He made the offer tempting indeed even, with the offer of buying me a cold beer! How could I say no to that?

    I actually found it rather surreal. I can tend to be somewhat of a shut-in, finding gallery openings and exhibition events to be somewhat intimidating as I’m surrounded by art enthusiasts and people looking at ‘real art’, while I stand there trying to look as intelligent as my counterparts and not get noticed enough for anyone to ask me a question or start a conversation. One of those ‘better to remain silent and be thought a fool than remove all doubt’ things.

    With my husband firmly in tow, I entered the press of people eagerly moving into the exhibition spaces, voices around me a a low, bubbling eddy of hushed whispers and more enthusiastic greetings among those known to each other. We advanced slowly, enjoying the works of other artists, filling each of the six exhibition spaces, pointing to the ones we liked, discussing how we thought certain things were done and simply marveling at the absolute skill that simply must be required to create some of the pieces.

    For the paintings, our clear and decided favourites were created by Rosalind Edgar, stunningly vivid and vibrant landscapes infused with such rich, beautiful colours. Turning away from the ‘traditional’, pastoral scenes we generally seem to associate with Australian landscape art, these coax the audience into another perspective, into a broad, sweeping view that to me, seems to pick up on the very essence of the land rather than simply a pictorial rendering of ‘what is there’. Trust me when I say that the pictures of the exhibition do little justice to the pieces themselves – you have to go and see them.

    And so we progressed, making our way slowly about the spaces; pausing, returning to those we liked, doing the circuit more than once. We lingered no small amount of time in Karl’s exhibition space, bearing an assortment of sculpture and one painted work which proclaimed a number of sweethearts sentiments quite against any you would find in a regular packet.

    For me, ‘The Hands of Mr Potato Head Save the Innocent’, and ‘Kenny Starburst’ featured as favourites (I will admit, I have an almost unnatural love of type-writers and type-writer keys, not to mention vintage toys…), with a fair few others following close behind. ‘You’ve Got Mail’, I think, was the title of the little critter which sat beside the doorway – though critter he may not have meant to be, that piece exuded so much personality from it I would have bundled it up and stolen it away myself to give it a home with me, feeding it all the letters it desired while it sat upon its sturdy yet almost spindley little 60’s tv cabinet style legs.

    ‘Reflector’ was an instant hit with my husband – the way the pieces seemed to be made for each other, to be fitted together without anything looking out of place or seeming to be altered to slot together so perfectly. As he put it so simply, it was ‘one of those pieces where you know you’d find something new in it every day’, from the way the shadow in the recess would undoubtedly move as the day progressed, to the shapes each crack may form as you looked at it from another angle. I personally love playing that game with myself – seeing what shapes emerge from a tile or splotch of discolouration, noticing a gorilla peeking out at me in one instant, a penguin at another, or perhaps a couple living out a miniature drama with a mix of passion and forlorn desire on the surface of a linoleum square. In this case though, the almost unquenchable desire to touch was hard to quash – give me a wonderful texture and peeling paint, and even the sanctity of art is no match with my want to leave my own little touch upon it for every person after me to see. Luckily, perhaps, I was well behaved and did no such thing.

    And then we met Karl, the hubby pointing and crowing ‘That’s him, bet you anything,’ before sidling closer and urging me to say hello. I don’t exhibit shyness all the time, but speaking to an artist I admire (especially when I’ve already gone all fan-girlie on one of their artworks) does make me want to go ‘uhhhh, I’m sure he has better people to talk to than me…’ What did I come away from the conversation with? A little bit more insight, and a realization that it really is time to update my profile pictures again – my hair is no longer short and pink, but a few inches longer and quite a dark purple!

    Thank you Karl, for the wonderful evening – it was a great pleasure to attend your opening and meet you in person. And for all the rest of you, go ahead and check it out yourself! Karl’s exhibition, Purge, is open until the 16th of May at Doggett Street Studio.

    On an unrelated note… I hate American spell-checks. Colour is spelled with a ‘u’, goddamnit.