System Preferences
Sutton Gallery
May 2011

This exhibition arose from an interest in the possibilities of painting in a contemporary context; thinking about the symbolic spaces that painting inhabits/engages now, in the time of the post-medium-specific art practice, and how its loadings have diverged and regrouped – attendantly, how these complexities might constitute an expanded concept of a medium that can be employed to think about other things. This body of work in no sense constitutes a rejection of painting; conversely, it takes a reductive approach to traditional materials as its genesis, using stretched linen primed with rabbit skin glue, drapes and pared back watercolour magazine illustrations as its media basis, though the grounds of the paintings are prepared with dye, the actual painted mark a relatively ghost-like presence.

The paintings take as their subject matter imagery relating to present political attitudes and influences in Australia; porcine mining barons, cardboard voting booths, ministerial sleights of hand, immigration officials. The imagery is treated subtly, and the notion of painting expanded in the space; the works, though representational, ducking under the propagandist aesthetic that one tends to associate with painting which takes political concerns into consideration, instead concerning themselves with concealment and suggestion. Putting this imagery into paintings is not in this instance for the purposes of commentary so much as a meditation on the way conditions can congeal into realities, a sifting through of the present predicament.

System Preferences refers most obviously to the control panel of the perniciously ubiquitous Macintosh, though it also refers to the systems of painting, and how they might be rethought in a contemporary context – and on a broader level, how we might like things to be run, what systems we would like to see in place. This is part of an ongoing inquiry as to how the systems of painting might be put to use to reckon with the workings of other systems.