The Invitation of a Feast of Curation or an Octopus in a Milk Jug!
“That one's from a dream,” Kiata says but doesn't elaborate, that's left to me. And so I tell you the fish will cut the onion itself and swim back out to sea. And it's not even that a meal is being prepared so much as laid out raw if you want it —or on the verge of reanimation. And the bushes behind are on fire and encroaching or being kept at bay by the sea and the stream that flows under this meal of life on which we are floating. Arr—see the sky down below—stars setting into the desert of an underworld unconscious. The composition set alight by coriander green: juxtaposition of all that realism and the dream.
Kiata tells me that none of the other paintings are inspired by dreams but a careful arrangements of significant objects, creating for the viewer an empathic experience. 'There's always one thing just out of place,' she says, and this is how she draws her audience into the painting's world. This sense of disruption (I'd also call it defamiliarisation) is an opening for the viewer to imagine themselves into—and so we find an octopus in a milk jug!
For the Surrealists the archetypal image of this kind came from the French poet Comte de Lautréamont's line: "the fortuitous encounter upon a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!"1 The juxtaposition defamiliarises both objects and the viewer's perception of reality itself; in turn giving substance and depth to the unique world existing within the frame of the painting. The careful arrangement of deeply personal objects does not offer up all the painter's secrets but rather creates in the viewer a sense of intrigue and curiosity which encourages and supports individual thinking making meaning.
So I'm thinking Bonnard, I'm thinking Roy, I'm thinking Frida. I'm thinking the flat assemblage of the stage, which is flat but deep—everything a compartmentalisation brought into conversation, blurring sharp edges with understanding.
So I'm thinking it's a feast of curation, of direction—crafting a private narrative, a narrowing into the particular object placed like a vessel for recollections, the invitation of two glasses brimming with significance, triggering in the viewer their own constellation of memories to add to the table—come take a seat it's all there waiting.
So I'm thinking Frida but it's my Frida, the black and white Frida with the carriage in the background like the one that ran her down. I'm thinking Bonnard, but it's my Bonnard seen in Paris when I was 24 and so disheveled people would drop coins in my coke can thinking I was begging. I'm thinking Shakespeare on that pillow but it's me with his words in my mouth blinded by stage lights forgetting my lines.
I can't know why the octopus is in the milk jug (if it is a milk jug at all!) but the incongruity of the image has me captured, allowing me to imagine myself the dinner party prankster hiding it under a layer of milk for an unsuspecting guest to discover. And so an empathy, a connection, a togetherness with the world of the painting is developed—I reach for the other glass, take my place amid the scene waiting for that first sucking tentacle to reveal itself.
1. Comte de Lautréamont, Les Chants De Maldoror, trans. by Guy Wernham, New York: New Directions Books, 1965. pp 263
Dr Gareth Jenkins
2014-16 Master of Fine Arts (Drawing), National Art School, Sydney
2012 Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours (Drawing), National Art School
2004 Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), National Art School
2019 The Theatrical Eye Muswellbrook Arts Centre, Muswellbrook NSW
2018 Treasures- An Ode to the Objects We Keep Close, curated by Amber Creswell Bell, Special Group Studios, Sydney
2017 Bea’s Table curated by Amber Creswell Bell at Saint Cloche Gallery
2016 Masters Drawing Examination Exhibition Hoff Space NAS Sydney
2012 Impressions, Japanese Gardens Gallery, Cowra
2005 Behind the scenes Manning Regional Gallery Members Gallery, Taree
Selected Group Exhibitions
2019 Memory &Landscape, A.K. Bellinger Gallery, Inverell
2019 Reflections of a fading sky, Arthouse Gallery, Sydney
2019 Riversdale Dreaming, Adelaid Perry Gallery, Sydney
2019 Calleen Art Award, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra, NSW
2019 Bayside Acquisitiive Art Prize, Bayside Art Gallery, Brighton, Victoria
2019 Outback Art Prize, Outback Regional Art Gallery, Winton, Queensland
2019 Muswellbrook Art Prize (painting section), Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery
2018 Christmas Exhibition Part 2 A.K Bellinger Gallery, Inverell, Paddington Art Prize Finalists, Sydney, The Way We See Ourselves West End Art Space, Melbourne, Movers & Shapers Women in the Land Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Sydney, Big Country AK Bellinger Gallery, Inverell, Sir John Sulman Art Award Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Vase & Vessel curated by Amber Creswell Bell Saint Cloche Gallery, Sydney, Works on Paper section of the Muswellbrook Art Prize, Muswellbrook
2017 Still’s Art Prize Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, The Design File’s Open House Melbourne], Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize on line exhibition, Black Swan Portrait Prize, Perth WA State Gallery, Christmas Exhibition, A.K Bellinger Gallery, Inverell, Spring, The Happen Store, Annandale, Sydney, Ode, Collab Gallery, Chippendale, Sydney, An Unguarded Moment, A.K Bellinger Gallery, Inverell, At Home, Birds Gallery, Melbourne, Pen Line + Paint, 220 Creative Space, Woolloomooloo Sydney, Still & Private Lives A.K Bellinger Gallery Inverell, Muswellbrook 44th Art Prize, Painting and Drawing, Pen Line + Paint 220 creative space Woolloomooloo Sydney, At Home Birds Gallery Melbourne, An Unguarded Moment A.K Bellinger Gallery Inverell, Black Swan Portrait Prize Perth, Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize, on line exhibition.
2016 Fundraising Event Dominik Mersch Gallery, Master exhibition NAS Gallery, Clay Gulgong Wool Shed Gulgong, Adelaide Perry Prize for drawing PLC Adelaide Perry Gallery Sydney
2015 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore
2015 Paddington Art Prize, Woollahra, Naked & Nude Manning Art Prize, Manning Regional Art Gallery, Taree, Five Years On, Articulate Project Space, Sydney
2013 The Nature of Things, Jean-Bellette Gallery, Hill End
2012 National Art School Postgraduate Exhibition, National Art School, Sydney, Dobell Drawing Prize, New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney, Mosman Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery
2011 Blake Prize - National Art School Gallery & touring regional galleries, Gosford Art Prize, Gosford Regional Gallery, Gosford, Talls, River Bank Gallery, Canowindra, Flanagan Art Prize, St. Patrick’s College, Ballarat, Lachlan Valley Art Award Exhibition, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra
2009 Local Artists Exhibition, The Hub Art Gallery, Grenfell
2007 Group Show, 4A At Gallery, Sydney
2006 Two Artist Show, James Harvey Gallery, Clovelly, Port Macquarie Art Society Show - Portrait Competition, Port Macquarie
2005 Emerging Artists, Newport Artworks Gallery, Newport
2019 Finalist Calleen Art Award, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra
2019 Finalist Bayside Acquisitiive Art Prize, Bayside Art Gallery, Brighton Victoria
2019 Finalist Outback Art Prize, Outback Regional Art Gallery Winton Queensland
2019 Finalist Muswellbrook Art Prize (painting section), Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery
2018 Finalist Paddington Art Prize, Sydney, Finalist Sir John Sulman Art Award Art Gallery of NSW, Won the Works on Paper section of the Muswellbrook Art Prize, Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery
2017 Finalist Still’s Art Prize Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Semi Finalist - Doug Moran Portrait Prize, on line exhibition, Finalist - Black Swan Portrait Prize, Perth, Finalist, Finalist Muswellbrook 44th Art Prize, Drawng, and Painting, Finalist Black Swan Portrait Prize, Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize, on line exhibition.
2016 Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize, Finalist Adelaide Perry Prize for drawing Sydney
2015 Finalist Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore, Finalist Paddington Art Prize, Woollahra, Finalist - Naked & Nude Manning Art Prize
2013 Semi Finalist - Moran portrait Prize
2012 Finalist - Dobell Drawing Prize , Finalist - Mosman Art Prize
2012 Finalist - Hornsby Art Prize
2011 Finalist - Blake Prize, Finalist - Gosford Art Prize
2011 Finalist - Flanagan Art Prize
2011 Highly Commended (mixed media) - Lachlan Valley Art Awards
2007 First Prize (watercolour) - Kempsey Shire Art Prize
2006 Highly Commended - Port Macquarie Art Society Show - Portrait Competition
2004 Highly Commended - Zooman Art Exhibition
2004 Highly Commended - Adelaide Swift Art Award
PLC Adelaide Perry Gallery Sydney, Multiple private collections