Alex Spremberg, Liquid Structures #20, enamel on canvas, 150 x 180 x 3cm. Courtesy Art Collective WA
News, Reviews, Visual arts

What lies beneath

Review: Alex Spremberg, “Liquid Geometrics” and Andre Lipscombe, “Unconcealed Paintings” ·
Art Collective WA, Cathedral Square, Perth ·
Review by Belinda Hermawan ·

Fittingly displayed together at Art Collective WA in Cathedral Square, Alex Spremberg’s “Liquid Geometrics” and Andre Lipscombe’s “unconcealed paintings” work together as a joint enquiry into form and structure. By exposing the core elements of a composition, the two local artists pose questions about the way in which society has trained itself to look at the surface without questioning the integrity or complexity of the systems concealed beneath.

Spremberg subverts our expectations of geometric systems by creating disorder within order – the edges of the scaffolding appear as though they are melting, colour running and mixing throughout all vertices. The skeletons of these stacked and interlocked cubes speak to stability, playing on our familiarity with grid systems in everyday life. Yet, as Spremberg explains, the order in a man-made, controlled environment is not always guaranteed, as humans themselves are fuelled by emotion and impulse, forces which cannot be constructed and contained.

The message in “Liquid Geometrics”, therefore, is largely accessible. This simplicity, however, potentially limits the depth of engagement for the observer. Although Spremberg has used a variety of colour palates for the different structures, from two-tone to almost rainbow-like mixtures, as well as various backgrounds in unpainted plywood or painted canvas, the exhibition starts to feel less dimensional as the concept repeats over the sixteen selected pieces. In this, it achieves a uniformity where unpredictability might have been more exciting. One almost yearns for a statement piece; a dramatic configuration or exaggerated example of the paint’s fluidity. That said, perhaps the result would have been the same either way, with Spremberg reminding us that, ultimately, these frameworks are unable to contain anything but empty space.

Andre Lipscome, Painting with Chromatophores, 2018, 30 x 23 x 3cm. Courtesy Art Collective WA
Andre Lipscome, ‘Painting with Chromatophores’, 2018, 30 x 23 x 3cm. Courtesy Art Collective WA.

Lipscombe’s collection, “unconcealed paintings”, allows the viewer to engage with the topology of the chosen artworks. It is the contrast between the paintings’ two-dimensional image and three-dimensional form that is so compelling. For this reason, two standout pieces are Flayed painting and Painting with chromatophores, the layers of paint and exposed grooves mesmerising in their detail. Dark matter painting is also a delight to behold; the end result so extra-terrestrial and unique one can scarcely believe it consists of paint and timber and has not been excavated from elsewhere in the universe.

Lipscombe’s works in this exhibition evoke a natural curiosity, an urge to step back and step forward to discover what is concealed from a distance, what is revealed when one is truly paying close attention. In this way, the accumulation of paint films takes on a dynamism. Lipscombe speaks to the idea that erasure, clearance and removal is a transformative process; one that is as interesting and valuable as building a new form. This exhibition, however, does not always feel cohesive, with several of the seventeen pieces, arguably, too subtle in their cuttings or form when placed alongside their neighbours.

Seen together, these two exhibitions engage with concepts and materials in ways that run against orthodox construction, reminding us that precision and sleekness are not the only markers of success.

Both exhibitions are showing at Art Collective WA until August 4.

Pictured top: Detail from Alex Spremberg, ‘Liquid Structures #20’, enamel on canvas, 150 x 180 x 3cm. Courtesy Art Collective WA.