In This Issue

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the many Aboriginal nations across this land, traditional custodians, Elders past and present; in particular the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land on which we work.

May 2022

Letter from the Editor:

“Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind things; they were in them, in all of them.”
– Hermann Hesse, Six novels, with other stories and essays, 1980.

Art can evoke hidden dimensions of our already tiered reality, with intertwining layers of meaning communicated visually to the viewer through poetic form and sensory data: colour, motion, sound, image and so on. While the pictorial narrative is the primary focus in art viewing, its tendrils lead in many directions, a multitude of subplots rich in suggestions and interpretation. Here, in this issue, we explore the concept of the “invisible”: what lies hidden beneath the surface of thick paint, beyond the still capture of the lens, within the polyrhythms of patterns, collage, and sound.

For our cover artist Hoda Afshar, issues of visibility and representation of the marginalised are brought into focus in Speak the Wind at Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne: subtle yet powerful images of the rituals and lives that play out within the enigmatic islet landscapes of the Strait of Hormuz, off the southern coast of Iran. Afshar’s photographs entrap the winds that have weathered the landscapes over centuries and shaped the culture of its inhabitants for generations – people who hold the common belief that the wind can possess a person and can equally be exorcised from them through an intense ceremony of dance and music. We are reminded that although wind is invisible, we can feel its eerie presence, in dancing fabric pulsed by its gust or in rocky terrain formed by abrasion. Afshar further explores this concept in her presentation of concealed faces: covered by traditional face masks and garb, positioned out of frame, or conveniently interrupted by a tree branch.

David Noonan’s artmaking has been described as a collage of “figurative images” with “the subject often in the midst of gesture or action – are placed in dialogue with abstract surfaces, textures and forms. Using techniques such as silkscreen printing on linen, in many cases, the images bleed across several pieces of fabric that are joined together, their seams and edges.” In Only when it’s cloudless at TarraWarra Museum of Art in Victoria, Noonan presents predominantly new works: collages, tapestries and film, “works of beguiling complexity” as a largely monochrome palette is pierced with vibrant yellow. “Here”, writes Dr Joseph Brennan, “connections come without any prescribed or preferred artist reading. A resistance to artwork decoding that, to my eye, kicks off any anchorage to a particular time or place – a true strength of collage as the ‘art of juxtaposition’ that, in this artist’s vision, leads to works with an enigmatic, moon-lit magic of reinvention.”

This “reinvention” or “reconstruction” of narratives relies on the perceptual prompts of each work, by Afshar, Noonan, and others featured in this issue. It is the aesthetic experiences of the audience that allow for exploration; be it the wind, fabric, sound, or rhythmic algorithms of geometric constructs, we have to extrapolate from what’s shown in order to grasp what’s implied, what’s invisible.

– Melissa Peša

Contents:

Previews:
David Noonan, Only when it’s cloudless – Dr Joseph Brennan
Hoda Afshar, Speak the Wind – Kirsty Francis

In the studio:
John Aslanidis – Sophia Halloway

Book Reviews:
Kunmanara Jangala Carroll, Ngaylu nyanganyi ngura winki (I can see all those places) – Kirsty Francis

Behind the scenes:
In conversation with José Roca – Jaimi Wright

 

 


Cover image:
Hoda Afshar, Untitled, 2015–20, from the series ‘Speak the Wind’, pigment ink-jet print, 80 × 100cm
Courtesy the artist, Milani Gallery, Brisbane and Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne

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