The concept of glass as a purely artistic object is not that new a concept. Glass has long been used by artists as a vehicle for poetic or conceptual expression – Marcel Duchamp’s Air de Paris (1919) probably led the way. As an exhibition MEDIA SPECIFIC has been developed for and by the Monash Glass department and it is evident that the opportunity to reiterate the new boundaries of glass as art over craft was appealing. It’s not that often that you get to see contemporary glass works brought together and in so saying, this exhibition was a delight. From pure and pared down poetic minimalism to the garish quality of assemblage, this exhibition managed to reflect a department that is certainly not limited in its vocabulary or in danger of going the way of cliche. A range of aesthetic and material concerns were presented and reinforced the multiplicity of creative imperatives that glass can accommodate.
Rosalind Piggoitt’s piece Mirror, mirror no 2 is especially beautiful and recalls the minimalist aesthetic of Ian Burn’s Mirror works of the 60s. We see a pale, golden semblance of our world, but all its edges have been softened by this “beguilingly elusive” material, as the artist states. This piece and Samantha Cuffe’s Warped Perceptions, best reflect the power of glass to capture our imagination. Like Narcissus staring into the pond, there is something about glasses ability to reflect our experiences that enchants and mesmerise our senses.
Other highlights were the crystal shards of George Aslanis 3 Potentials. Glass chunks like onyx freshly dug from the ground and the sooty vases Michael John Joseph Untitled both spoke of an enlightenment fascination with material alchemy and the desire to possess seemingly precious objects. These two works perhaps edge closest to the craft dichotomy to which the exhibition’s catalogue text intended to speak, as does the interpretative quality of Kirstin Finlayson’s sculptural assemblage Childhood and other disasters. I’m not sure which component in this work was glass, but it was most likely aged and made to subdue its glistening quality to fit in with the pallid tone of the whole.
Procedural and intentional qualities, as it points out in the exhibition text, are integral to the practice of glass art. It is what makes this alchemical process so alluring and sensuous. If this selection of work is a reflection of the department’s directions, we can be assured that rigorous and brave artists are at work here. On until May 14