Review: “Silence”, Kyle Hughes-Odgers –
Turner Galleries, opening night 1 September –
Review by Belinda Hermawan –
In contrast with its title, the first minutes of the opening of Kyle Hughes-Odgers’ exhibition “Silence” were the only quiet ones of the night. This was the lull before the whirlwind of admirers came streaming into the Turner Galleries, when one could view the works of abstract whimsy with some degree of solitude.
But there was a palpable joy in being part of the crowd appreciating one of Perth’s best-known multi-disciplinary artists. Hughes-Odgers’ public street art has been commissioned globally, with large scale murals in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London and Madrid. His art work is known to younger members of the community through his five children’s books and also Ten Tiny Things by Meg McKinlay.
Installed at the entrance of the gallery is the fifteen-minute film Ordered Chaos, a documentary about Hughes-Odgers’ projects made by Chad Peacock. Murmurs of recognition from viewers reflect how iconic Hughes-Odgers’ art works have become in our city. Perthites can see his distinctive style in projects at Perth Airport, Northbridge, Mt Lawley, Claremont, William St, Perth… The growing list is a collection as organic as the elements of nature so often depicted in his works.
In the paintings diagrams of life, parts A – M, Hughes-Odgers creates magic from the mundane, creating a multi-faceted grid of objects and figures in both warm and cool tones. These geometric patterns evoke a sense of nostalgia and comfort, of child-like wonder in ordinary objects. In depicting the everyday – mugs, books, plants, paint and people – the viewer is pulled into observing the small components of our lives, things we tend to take for granted.
Hughes-Odgers’ quirkiness is seen in the diptych A map to the horizon, where the use of colour and pattern unifies the man-made campsites with nature, portraying a symbiotic enjoyment of the outdoors. The work draws parallels to his “totem” series of ink drawings, in which characters and trees are stacked in unexpected ways; wonderful combinations of people and nature, emblematic of an ideal balance. Turn around to the impressive set of 43 vases and you see a sprawling display of framed segments of vases; a biomorphic construction.
In his artist statement, Hughes-Odgers explains that the title of exhibition ‘is based on the idea of paintings as static silent objects that can spark ideas, memory and create dialogue.’ The excited chatter in the gallery an hour into opening night proved his hypothesis correct. From a small piece of paper to four 35m grain silos in Merredin, Hughes-Odgers makes us think about and discuss creativity in all its shapes and sizes.