Reviews/Visual Art

Tilted realities

17 March 2020

Joanna Lamb’s ‘Things Past’ and Jennifer Cochrane’s ‘From the Shadows’ invite the viewer into a fascinating world of abstract perspectives and hyperreality, discovers Jaimi Wright.

‘Things Past’, Joanna Lamb; ‘From the Shadows’ Jennifer Cochrane ·
Art Collective WA ·
Review by Jaimi Wright ·

If you take the time to look at humanity in a certain way, despite the cacophony and complexity of modern life, all we really consist of are shadows and shapes. It is this simple idea, comforting and yet unnervingly surreal, that is shared and explored between the two exhibitions currently on display at Art Collective WA: “Things Past”, by Joanna Lamb, and “From the Shadows”, by Jennifer Cochrane.

These two exhibitions are a thoughtful curatorial pairing by Art Collective WA. Each in their own way, Lamb and Cochrane ask you to look, really look, in a way that begs the verb to be as active as possible and acts upon the most mundane and simple objects. From the shapes, lines, shadows and blocks of colour within each artwork emerges a truth that on the surface seems counter-intuitive: in order to capture the multifaceted essence of a subject, you need only the simplest of tools.

Joanna Lamb’s explorations of modern life in “Things Past” are atmospheric paintings of the everyday, expressed in flattened colours and shapes that walk the bizarre line between realism and abstraction. Inspired by photographs, memory and her own imagination, Lamb’s subjects are places of mundane happenstance; the backdrop of the ordinary. Although they are often simply houses and petrol stations anywhere between Perth and Launceston, the manner in which they are captured on canvas, in pastels and neon, has a magical and illuminating quality. To be among her pieces is to feel an eerie sense of both familiarity and theatricality.


By ways of comparison, Jennifer Cochrane’s exhibition “From the Shadows” is a three-dimensional object-based exploration of perspective and simplicity. The nuances of perspective that come from her geometrical installations are revealed in the audience’s position at the time of viewing, and the shadows that her pieces cast. Just as Lamb’s paintings illuminate the arresting elements of everyday scenes, Cochrane’s works are only two-dimensional if you take them at face value. Her sculptures made of powder-coated steel force you to interact with their surface simplicity in order to reveal a world of multifaceted nuance that is only a step away.

Jennifer Cochrane, ‘Impossible Shadow #23’, 2019, powder coated steel, 90 x 80 x 51cm

The architecture of Art Collective WA is also an excellent exhibition mechanism for these shows as the building both speaks to the stripped-back simplicity of the artworks and allows these works to speak for themselves. Composed of white walls and rendered concrete flooring, the Collective’s exhibition space serves as a nest of clean lines and simple materials, supporting and nurturing notions of abstract perspectives and hyperreality found in these two shows.

Together, “Things Past” and “From the Shadows” are beautiful and spine-tingling. Both Lamb and Cochrane are committed to finding the complicated nature of objects and places by the simplest of means. Their tilted realities will keep you engaged, by asking you intriguing questions about the building blocks of modern life and art.

Joanna Lamb’s “Things Past” and Jennifer Cochrane’s “From the Shadows” will both be showing at Art Collective WA until 4 April 2020.

Pictured top is Joanna Lamb, “Petrol Station”, 2020, acrylic on Superfine polyester, 122 x 152cm

Jennifer Cochrane, ‘Impossible Shadow #24 (Blue,Yellow & Red)’, 2019, powder coated steel, 87 x 68cm (each)

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi Wright is your friendly neighbourhood art historian. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at UWA and dabbles in curating, local arts writing, and 19th century French history. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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