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Visitants: close encounters with remote Western Australia

About Visitants: close encounters with remote Western Australia

Visitants brings together three artists whose practices are linked by a desire to capture ephemeral states and transitory environmental phenomena. Consuelo Cavaniglia, Penny Coss, Berndnaut Smilde. 

As the outcome of a series of residencies in Karijini National Park, Visitants translates some of Western Australia’s most haunting remote landscapes into a series of refined compositions, stained with colour and light.

During 2016, each artist was commissioned by FORM to undertake a residency in the Pilbara, and immerse themselves in landscape that is almost hallucinatory in its harsh beauty and extremes of climate. Visitants comprises the outcomes of their encounters with the region, and in particular field trips to Karijini National Park, home to some of the State’s oldest and most dramatic natural landforms.

Consuelo Cavaniglia employs visual illusion to toy with her audience’s perception. Frequently using transparency and reflection, her works serve to confuse foreground and background, disrupting the relationship between the viewer and the artwork. Penny Coss is highly regarded for her paintings that interpret her experience of the natural landscape in the abstract expressionist tradition. She employs scale, transparency and staining to create richly layered works that draw the audience in. Berndnaut Smilde creates photographs, sculptures and installations that aim to capture moments of revelation, evoking either hope or fragility. His works frequently conflate inside and outside, or confuse scale, temporality, or the function of materials or spaces.

Nicholls said the works exhibiting as part of Visitants translated the landscape of Karijini into a series of refined compositions stained with colour and light. Cavaniglia’s works include a shimmering wall painting referencing the changing light conditions during a Pilbara sunset. Coss’ large-scale installations of stained canvas make subtle use of the colour blue, traditionally associated with Sublime transcendence, but here representing a malignant influence, inspired by the horizontal bands of deadly blue asbestos running through Dale’s Gorge. Smilde’s installation literally stains the gallery with colour, and is presented alongside images of his sneakers, documented before and after his Pilbara trip, during which they were dyed by the region’s iconic red dust. Each artist’s playful manipulation of their viewer’s perception represents a critical engagement with Western understandings of landscape, drawing upon the Romantic tradition to remind us of both the beauty and power of nature, and the fragility of the Caucasian body within an environment as vast, remote, and potentially-hostile as Karijini.

In line with the aims of FORM’s broader residency program, Visitants represents a local, interstate and international engagement with the Western Australian landscape, and allows two Australian mid-career artists to show alongside a world-renowned international creative.

About the Artists

Consuelo Cavaniglia

Consuelo Cavaniglia is an interdisciplinary artist whose work focuses on how we see and understand space. Taking its cues from film, photography and architecture, her work employs technically simple visual effects to distort perception and unsettle the relationship between viewer and space. The spaces alluded to in the work are illusory and imaginary – spaces of the psyche rather than the concrete world. Currently based in Sydney, Cavaniglia has developed a range of exhibitions including a major project involving the presentation of ephemeral artworks in public spaces.

Penny Coss

Penny Coss is a highly-regarded mid-career painter based in Western Australia. Informed by the abstract expressionist tradition, Coss’ work interprets her encounters with Western Australia’s natural  environment through colour and gesture, most recently incorporating a refined process of staining. Coss was born in Sydney in 1961 and gained a BA and postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts from the University of New South Wales before moving to Perth in 1994. She has subsequently held fourteen solo exhibitions in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Singapore, and participated in numerous group exhibitions across Australia and internationally.

Berndnaut Smilde 

Berndnaut Smilde is an internationally respected Dutch artist currently based in Amsterdam. Smilde is interested in how we experience the world around us. Drawing inspiration from his daily surroundings, his work explores our relationship to built and natural environments, often toying with his viewers’ perceptions of inside/outside, or the scale or function of built spaces. Smilde has won numerous awards and his work resides in both the Saatchi and the Smithsonian collections among others. He has been written about extensively in international art publications; additionally his Nimbus series was recognised by Time Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Inventions of 2012.

About FORM’s Regional Residency Program

FORM’s residency program places local, interstate, and international artists in direct conversation with the State’s regional communities and dramatic remote landscapes, and develops opportunities for regionally-based artists to exhibit their work outside of their home community. Currently FORM’s residency programming engages communities within five of the State’s regions. A particular focus of FORM’s residency program is to engage internationally-renowned artists who have never before visited Australia. FORM is also particularly committed to providing midcareer artists with distinctive and inspiring residency opportunities, and we see Western Australia’s regions as a unique resource for such creative engagement.

Exhibition Opening

Friday, 20 October
6 – 8pm

To be opened by

Adrian Fini
Director,  FJM Property

FORM Gallery
357 Murray Street, Perth

Exhibiting until Saturday 16 December

Form - building a state of creativity