Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space

Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space
Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space

Ronnie Van Hout, Gertrude Contemporary Gallery, September 2016.

“You”, smaller than life size figure dressed in a onesie holding a microphone.

I attended a talk by Ronnie van Hout at MADA earlier in the year in May 2016.

I was intrigued to hear him talk about his creative practice and the work he does at MADA as I find him and his practice irreverent, fun and enjoyable. He puts the childish, high spirited and delightful playfulness into a serious artistic journey.

The front room exhibition space faces the street and has a large vista from the street and visibility for foot traffic, passers by in cars, and tram passengers. His diminutive figure is a self portrait or parody of the adult Ronnie dressed in a child’s batman onesie holding a microphone. The caption is YOU reinforced on a timber laser cutout board placed in a direct behind his head at the back of the front room.

His legs as placed in a spread eagled stance, one hand clutching a microphone, gaze directly ahead, a rather confrontational pose with the body protruding slightly forward. From distance the body looks childlike but is a grotesque self parody of the young Ronnie with the current older head. The hair is reddish hue, the eyes sea like blue, but steely. It implies a sense of fun with this small figure claiming attention by shouting YOU but its very presence in an obvious space. I laughed. It made me feel great. Its inviting you want to approach the figure and see why he is so angry, then you get a shock when you realise its an old persons face and mannerisms on a young person’s body.

The textile language is a strong piece of the work, in that the batman onesie reinforces the stereotype of what a juvenile might wear but the old head juxtaposes this young imagery.

Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space
Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space

Brilliantly executed the gallery space is a clever and appropriate placement for the work and attracts much attention and garners interest from passers-by. When I went a young woman who was caring for a child walked at the front of the gallery stopped, and exhorted the child to visit it as deserving of closer attention. A walk in and inspection incited her curiosity and and invited comment from the child. She talked to me about the work, asked the child her reaction and offered to take my photo with it. I believe the successful curation made the work engage more fully with the public and made this work address and achieve the desired purpose of the maker as signified by the title “YOU”. It was a bit of whimsical fun in a hectic, part of town and made scurrying city folk stop and embrace the work.

Day One Ground Monash

I survived day one ground Monash. Battling incomprehensible acrynoms timetable confusion, a room full of strangers,  and unintelligible requests from the academic cohort, I staggered blindly around the Monash Fine Art Department for most of the day.

project
project

Studios are cramped, my timetable is not user friendly and my first subject choice denied but I’ll work it out. I got to spend the day with inspirational arts practitioners who will train me, and I colloborated on a joint project the results of which are seen here. The piece was inspired by a visit to Francis UPritchard’s exhibition imaginatively titled ” Jealous Saboteurs ” and the piece we chose was part of the ” What Happens Next” installation of clay figures. Whilst not specifically the end product I would have desired,  it made me think in a team mentality, utilise others skills, and assess how I think and work. It also made me talk about and question my aims of production.

What Happens Next
What Happens Next

 

We viewed a unique exhibition by Francis UPritchard at MUMA. It was  a retrospective show which included work from her student days. I particularly loved the installation piece of seven identical glasses cases. They were possibly gleaned from an elderly relative over a period of time and assembled devoid of glasses but fitted with tiny volcanic ranges of green velvet echoing her New Zealand home.

 

 

What Happens Next
What Happens Next

Its a definitive exhibition of many pieces, sculptural figures, refashioned found objects, childhood possessions transformed and dainty watercolours and incorporation of textiles. Her colour use is superb and the sense of scale challenging, as the pieces are diminutive but perfectly formed in a crouching, defensive position.

What Happens Next
What Happens Next

What I loved is the specific gathering of objects, but the casual way they are treated, indicating Francis UPritchard is not precious about her collection but rather sees it as a living, ephemeral body prevailed upon by human intervention and interpretation.

Class mates work "Amplify"
Class mates work “Amplify”

 

An enlightening footnote was the discovery of a pendulous, spindly spider web on the sculpture ” The Tourist”. The spider had invaded the gallery and added its own signature to the piece, perhaps unconsciously reinforcing the aims of the artist. It was specifically relevant to our piece, “what happens next”. The webs presence caused much consternation amongst the gallery curatorial staff, as did, apparently the renegade spiders presence in the gallery space the day before.