Considered one of Australia’s foremost contemporary photomedia artists, Pat Brassington has been beguiling audiences for over 30 years. She recently won the 2016 Redlands Konica Minolta Prize with her work Pair Bonding, which will be exhibited alongside this seductive new body of works.
Brassington is influenced by Surrealism and Freud’s concepts of the unconscious, which guide her internal creative process along with her material one. The collision of the unexpected is rife and takes form through collage. Using an archive of her own black and white photographs, found imagery and objects as a starting point, she works to alter and shift what is recognizable, pitching the resulting images just off the verge of normality. It takes a moment sometimes to notice that things aren’t quite as we’d expect
The title of this series Just So is drawn from Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 book Just So Stories which comprised fanciful tales explaining animal behaviours and characteristics. As with Kipling’s stories, there is a fantastical element and an apparent narrative that lurks behind Brassington’s images. What is that fish doing in that mouth? Who owns that lurid red tongue, an animal or a human? Brassington conflates opposites - human and animal, shock and the banal, attraction and repulsion, asking us to consider, perhaps, the delicate balance between these constructs or to think about the stories we tell to explain ourselves to each other.
Despite walking this thin line, Brassington’s works remain seductive. With a lightness of touch, gentle humour and a deft use of colour she creates works and worlds where the senses prevail. This plays out in Just So, where sensual, visceral qualities both attract and disturb. Its colour palette, while largely monochromatic, has pulsating shots of red: a lurid long tongue, a pouting pair of red lips, reminding us of the very animal nature of our being.
In 2013, Pat Brassington won the prestigious William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize. Her work has been featured extensively in national and international exhibitions, including the 2012 Adelaide Biennial Parallel Collisions; Á Rebours, a major survey exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2012), which toured nationally; a solo exhibition in Lönnstrom Art Museum, Finland/Helsinki Festival (2008); Cambridge Road at the Institute of Modern Art (2007); the 2004 Biennale of Sydney; and a major retrospective at the Ian Potter Gallery, VIC (2002). Her work is held in numerous private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia and Artbank.