Yesterday evening saw the opening of two highly anticipated shows at New York’s Jonathan Levine Gallery, a one-two punch featuring two of Australia’s hottest contemporary artists, Ashley Wood and Jeremy Geddes. Both living and working in Australia isn’t the only thing these artists have in common as they both are also known for their comic book work. Woods’ work can be seen in Ghost Rider, Spawn and The X-men amongst other well known titles and Geddes’ illustrations have appeared in Star Trek and Zombies! Eclipse of the Undead books to name but a few. The two artists have also worked in the video game industry respectively having worked with Konami in Woods’ case and Activision in Geddes’. So needless to say it made sense to have a joint showing as the work complemented each other’s quite well. On a personal note I can say I had been anticipating this opening for a very long time, well over a year to be more precise, and by the sheer number of people in attendance I presume I was not alone in the countdown to the October 20th opening.
Ashley Wood - "Happiness 3" Oil and Acrylic on linen 36 x 72 inches.
and their surrounding environments are partially masked and disjointed by extreme contrasts in light and shadow. Woods' dynamic painting technique combines multiple layers of oil, acrylic and glazes, resulting in a painterly quality and high-gloss, drippy aesthetic. In addition to works on panel and canvas, the exhibition also featured two mixed media collages consisting of photographic Polaroid images as well as two sculptures of shapely right legs wearing strappy high-heeled sandals, each decked out with paintings of nudes on the outer calf. In the artist's words, Machine Sabbath is an inquiry into the ambiguity of silent suburban backyards, the conversations that take place between the denizens of those private spaces and the machines that think for us.”
Ashley was in attendance and was only too happy to sign works and discuss his craft with the very long line of comic book fans and fine art aficionados alike.
Jeremy Geddes - "Begin Again" Detail. Oil on Board 28.75 x 25.375 x 1.75 inches, framed.
Jeremy Geddes has really had an exceptional 24 plus months in the contemporary art world having really exploded these last couple of years, Again like Woods, Exhale marked the debut solo exhibition in the United States for the artist and the man most certainly came correct with a series of 17 paintings rendered in painstaking detail. Geddes’ work, an arduous process that combines scrupulous study, fine brushwork and delicate layers of glaze, combines a tension between man-made environments in flux and the vulnerability of the human body. Many of the works in the exhibition depict figures suspended in barren urban landscapes or splintered environments that are in the process of falling apart. Think of bullet time special effects as seen in Hollywood films like The Matrix and you will get a good picture of the drama rendered on these panels. The complex works are contrasted by a series of five paintings titled "Misèrere" (Italian for have mercy), each featuring a single subject isolated in a solid black plane—alternating birds and a failing Apollo Command Service Module. This series is accompanied by four paintings with solitary human figures, titled "Misère" (French for poverty or destitution). Although there are recurring motifs in the paintings, Geddes prefers to leave his subject matter open to interpretation rather than attach a specific narrative to his work, thus allowing individual viewers to connect disparate elements into a structure that resonates with them personally.
Needless to say the limited amount of works on show had sold out for Geddes before the show even opened, having been on the list myself before the show was yet publicly announced a good year and a half ago wasn’t even enough to secure a coveted painting by the artist. Woods’ work was also just about sold out on the night of the opening and I suspect by the end of the show will all find their way onto the walls of collectors. Even the limited edition prints had waiting lists and were all claimed at a rapid pace so make sure you make it down to the gallery before the shows close on November 17th to get a increasingly rare opportunity to see works from these two exceptional artists in person.