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Reviews/Perth Festival/Visual Art

For the love of dogs

5 March 2020

‘Cheeky Dogs’, Dion Beasley’s exhibition of drawings of loveable, mischievous canines, puts a smile on Jess Boyce’s face.

Review: Salon Art Projects, Dion Beasley, ‘Cheeky Dogs’ ·
DADAA Fremantle Gallery, 4 March 2020 ·
Review by Jess Boyce ·

Alywarr artist Dion Beasley’s solo exhibition, “Cheeky Dogs”, offers a glimpse into the life of camp dogs, and more broadly, daily life in the Northern Territory town of Tennant Creek.

Beasley is a prolific artist renowned for his sculptures, etchings and drawings of mischievous canine characters that now also feature on his own label of kids’ clothing and in popular children’s books.

The dogs in the exhibition are generally shown in packs, running, playing, mating and riding in trucks. While they are certainly cheeky, some dogs are also violent, engaged in fights, or even dead.

“Cheeky Dogs” initially seems little more than a series of repeated drawings of the same dog motif, perhaps reflective of the repetitiveness of daily life. Yet eventually each artwork is seen to tell its own story or scene. Together, they can easily be imagined as a storyboard for an animation or book.

Dion Beasley, ‘Fight’, at DADAA. The painted line on the wall reflects some of the lines in Beasley’s mud maps of Northern Territory communities. Photo: Cam Campbell

Beasley’s expressive drawing style captures the essence and movement of the dogs. You can picture them kicking up the red dust of the Northern Territory as they run, or as the trucks drive past. The blank spaces around the drawings reflect the quiet moments of a small town, punctured by barks and yelps of dogs wandering the streets as the unseen humans go about their days.

Some works contain no dogs at all, instead offering aerial mud maps of the roads and buildings in Tennant Creek. They suggest stillness between the scurry of activity in others, allowing the viewer a moment to reflect as, perhaps, the humans and dogs that inhabit these buildings also take a rest from the heat.

Some of the roads from these works have been extended from the drawings as large, clean painted lines across the gallery walls. But they don’t quite match the energy of Beasley’s drawings and almost distract from the sincere, intuitive marks he has made on paper and scraps of card.

Humorous, energetic and humble, “Cheeky Dogs” will put a smile on the faces of dog and art lovers of all ages.

‘Cheeky Dogs’ is on at DADAA Fremantle Gallery, 92 Adelaide Terrace, until 18 April 2020.

Pictured top: Dion Beasley, untitled work, pencil and graphite on paper.

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Author —
Jess Boyce

Jess Boyce is an artist and curator with a passion for the promotion of Perth arts. Jess has worked in a range of community, commercial and artist run spaces across Perth and co-founded Cool Change Contemporary in 2018. She has joyful playground memories of the wombat shaped spring rockers.

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