Marylou Pavlovic exhibition, Philistine, at Jenny Port Gallery is fantastic critical fun; it is garish, and crazy like a costume party. Her plastic champagne glasses embedded in resin were symbolic of a party or an art exhibition opening. The kind of art exhibition openings full of people dressed up in various disguises, drinking, air-kissing, gossiping and ignoring the art. The Philistine is indifferent to art, devoid of culture and narrow minded.
Comparing the art world to a party shows it philistine and as superficial as an air kiss. And Pavlovic’s “Fab Art darling xx” is the ultimate air-kiss. A sky-writing project on February 13th 2006 by Pavlovic documented in a large format digital print on vinyl at the exhibition.
Was it a costume party? Pavlovic has photographs, self-portraits in disguise that reminded me of Cindy Sherman’s photographs. Except, this time it was Pavlovic disguised as a mummy, a koala, and in make-up as member of Kiss.
This criticism is becomes explicit in the use of rats as a motif in the exhibition. In the photograph “The Professional” the professional has a rat in her mouth. And in The PavModern Art plinth there is a rat with a rose for a head, a perfect symbol for art, romance and dirt.
It appears that Pavlovic thinks that the art world is sick – perhaps it has been partying too hard. There is a Zimmer frame for clear moulded acrylic, looking fragile like glass (borrowing an idea from Rauschenberg) and a glass resin wheelchair.
Pavlovic is not simply critical of art with more art. There is more to Pavlovic than what she exhibits in the gallery. She is trying to change the art world in a practical way. She has established a floating art museum PavModern that brought British art critic Matthew Collings to Australia for a series of talks and hosted the Jake Chapman Lecture Tour.
Vitor Manfredi’s art paintings and sculptures are hard to explain as they combine whimsy and biology, the cute and erotic. They are attractive and repulsive at the same time. I saw his exhibition, Delirium, in the small back gallery space at Jenny Port Gallery. I had seen his exhibition, Conference, last year and I wanted to see more.
The key to Manfredi’s art lies in one of his polymer clay and acrylic painted sculptures in the exhibition, titled Empedocles. It is a strange creature a finger with a tiny ear, a talon and a breast. Empedocles of Acagras in Sicily, (c. 492-432 BC) was a pre-Socratic philosopher, mystic, healer and democratic politician who believed in the mystical power of Love.
In attempting to explain the origins of life and the similarities between different life forms Empedocles developed a theory of evolution. “According to fragments B57, B59, B60, and B61, first of all individual limbs and organs were produced from the earth. These wandered separately at first and then under the combining power of Love they came together in all sorts of wild and seemingly random hybrid combinations, producing double fronted creatures, hermaphrodites, ox-faced man creatures and man-faced ox-creatures.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/empedocl.htm
This mystical biological theory of life explains a lot about the strange creatures in Manfredi’s art. (Empedocles was not alone amongst the pre-Socratic philosopher to try to explain the origins of life; Anaximander of Miletus (d. c.547/6 BC) maintained that all living things, including humans, originated from slime. These ancient thinkers demonstrate what an impediment Christianity is to biological science.)
Empedocles’s belief in Love, as a primary cosmic force, is evident in Manfredi’s art. His art is full of love dripping with secretions and longing for unions. It is at the heart of all his work.