Pat Brassington - A Heartbeat Away
Exhibition: 9 May to 16 June, 2012
Foregrounding her place as one of Australia’s leading artists, Pat Brassington features in the 2012 Adelaide Biennial Parallel Collisions with the commissioned work A heartbeat away (2011-12). Stills Gallery is delighted to bring A heartbeat away to New South Wales in Brassington’s upcoming solo exhibition that also features her series The Pressings (2011).
A heartbeat away treats audiences to a towering encounter with Brassington’s uniquely arresting visual world. Adorning a wall in grid-like formation, 18 hanging images bring the viewer into a claustrophobic experience of stark domestic rooms each inhabited with surreal characters and objects. The rooms and their contents seem to repeat and distort like frames from a horror movie or fragments of a bad dream, until the strange becomes familiar and the familiar strange. By evoking the uncanny and the unconscious A heartbeat away invites a sense of malaise, a nagging miscomprehension, which plays with our desire to make sense of what we see.
Brassington’s celebrated aesthetic seems immediately at odds with The Pressings, which invokes the gentile art of pressing flowers. Instead she unapologetically inverts the polite sensibility of this delicate floral craft that originated in 16th Century Japan before making its way into the pastimes of Victorian ladies - certainly there is nothing lady-like about The Pressings.
Between the pages of Brassington’s work of fiction, is a disturbing yet entirely enthralling imaginary. Instead of meticulously arranged dried flowers (traditionally a leaf might become a mountain, a petal a snowy peak), Brassington creates seamless digital collages of often unidentifiable body parts and elements of domesticity; stocking-covered limbs, hairy feet, stained fabrics.
In place of blossoms, in the past slipped between book pages to preserve innocently flirtatious gifts, here femininity is flattened to reveal its lack of substance, light and life squeezed from its unthreatening appeal, the vibrant hues of womanliness faded into suffocating shades of pinks and claustrophobic hues of red.
What remains is Brassington’s wry sense of humour, asserted through subtle stagings that play out across the double page-style diptychs. In The Pressings #2 for example, a bird is ambiguously captured mid-squawk; calling out for food, it’s jutting tongue taunting the worm-like fleshy form on the adjacent page, or a death cry from being pressed flat, an unusually unfortunate end?
Pat Brassington's work is held in numerous public collections including AGNSW, QAG, NGA, TMAG, NGV and ArtBank. She has been featured extensively in national and international exhibitions, including an upcoming survey at the ACCA in 2012, a large solo show in Lönnstrom Art Museum, Finland and the Helsinki Festival, in 2008, her Cambridge Road series at the IMA in 2007, the Biennale of Sydney 2004 and a major retrospective at the Ian Potter Gallery, University of Melbourne 2002.