Greg Creek: The Desktop Drawings

Drawing is a practice that has been experimented with for many millennia. With a history of abstraction moving into representation, drawing today not only involves stylised works seeking accuracy and determination, it also contains simple loose jottings that explore shapes and form. The compulsion to draw when in deep thought or idea seeking is common and regularly experienced. Greg Creek is an artist with a practice that demonstrates free form drawing and detailed representative works. A survey of his work is on display at Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) in an exhibition titled ‘The Desktop Drawings’. Viewers are given an opportunity to see a collection created from a practice that spans across 20 years.

For a long time Creek wanted to be creative, he had a desire to communicate visually. He recalls seeing a friend’s older brother working on a painting in a studio and thinking “You can do that?”. When he finished university he went on to share a studio space with friends and began creating art; he thought it was the most exciting thing to do.

SAM recently acquired ‘The Melbourne Desktop Drawing’ in 2014 – the catalyst for the exhibition. A significant piece on view is the 52m wall based work titled ChatterShapes. This is an impressive feature not only due to its scale but also due to the style of Creek’s imaginative illustrations. Creek suggests that local references are made “to ideas around Shepparton as well as places farther afield.” He hopes that “everyone might think about how our everyday being, here and now, links to bigger themes.” Also presented is an assemblage of approximately 40 new drawings Creek had made specifically for SAM.

‘The Desktop Drawings’ originally, were blotting sheets for Creek’s oil paintings. Individual drawing sections of large works can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete; “The larger drawing tables are composites of many such parts and usually develop over several months. The narrative structure of the large works becomes clear through the initial confused time of making and I sense the work is ‘finished’ when the overall structure fleshes out the parts and vice versa” Creek tends to start several things in the present moment. These then wait for completion when “the answers are timely” – this can be months or even years later.

‘The Desktop Drawings’ contain components of the artist’s personal influences. Architectural pen drawings of buildings branch from abstract figures, impressions of anatomy are inscribed beneath generous splashes of watercolour, and cryptic notes are synthesised with bright triangular configurations. Creek has come to realise that “some parts of works dream other parts of the work.” When given the opportunity to freely experiment on reams of paper without the interference of restrictions, curious details start to materialise.

An admirable feature of the exhibition is Creek’s ability to change between different artistic styles at such diverse scales. Being within the presence of ‘The Desktop Drawings’ allows viewers to scan the images and search for familiar elements. When observed on a closer level, new discoveries are made from the initial first glance.

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM)
Until 9 August, 2015

Melbourne Desktop Drawing (Ormong Collage Horse Girl) (detail), 2003, mixed media on cut paper, aluminum table, 80 x 53.5 x 3000cm
ChatterShapes (mechanisms of gardens) (detail), 2009, mixed media, text on cut paper, pins, 100 x 345cm
Courtesy the artist and Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne