Recent, Current and Upcoming

Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson - Pestorius Sweeney House
Australian Fine Arts @ Phase 4 Records - Other Locations
Heimo Zobernig + David Pestorius - Other Locations
Green Room: Paul Bai, Stephen Bram, Gail Hastings, Joseph Marioni, Jan Timme - Pestorius Sweeney House
Gabriel Poole: Photographer - Pestorius Sweeney House
Jan Timme: Clouds - Pestorius Sweeney House


Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson
CityCat Project 2019
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane

To complement the presentation of Dave Hullfish Bailey and Sam Watson’s CityCat Project in the Brisbane Art Design exhibition now at the Museum of Brisbane, the Pestorius Sweeney House is hosting the first historical overview of the project.

A video co-produced with Heimo Zobernig in 2017 and encountered on entry offers an experimental documentary of the first four iterations of the Maiwar Performance. The central element of the CityCat Project, the performance was first staged in 2006. Chronology, however, is eschewed in the survey, which forges nonlinear connections between the disparate elements, themes and impulses that have generated the works themselves.

Large photographs of the residual wakes created by CityCat ferries during the Maiwar Performance in 2012 provide an oblique record, while calling attention to the event as an act of marking territory. The converse impulse — to destabilize colonial claims to the land — informs the most recent works: a series of digital prints based on satellite mapping of South East Queensland’s cadastral survey control marks.

Other works situate the Maiwar Performance in broader spatial and historical contexts: a found image of a young Sam Watson working at the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra in 1972 embeds the CityCat Project within longer struggles for Aboriginal land rights. Expanding the geographic frame, a 2016 photograph shows the Aboriginal flag flying near the entrance to protest camps on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Taken together, what emerges is less a comprehensive history of the project than a meditation on its processes, networks of relevance, and modes of collaboration. While Bailey’s methods — word play and language games, analogical experiments, conflations of words and their material referents, etc. — have decidedly Western roots, the circuits they construct between differing orders of meaning suggest conceptual and textural affinities with Watson’s own writing. In particular the narrative universe of The Kadaitcha Sung (Penguin, 1990), in which ancient culture, the colonial past and contemporary reality are fluidly superimposed, comes to mind. 

Australian Fine Arts @ Phase 4 Records
Phase 4 Records, Fortitude Valley

In 2019, Australian Fine Arts returns to @Phase4recordstore the small second-hand record shop in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley where in 2015 we presented a program of books from the personal libraries of artists, writers and musicians.

As in 2015, the new program will unfold in a wall display unit conceived in collaboration with New York artist Liam Gillick. However, on this occasion rather than books, the focus will be 12” vinyl records (LPs, mini-albums and EPs) from the collections of the exhibitors. And, like before, the only limitations are the spatial constraints of the display unit.

With the recent resurgence of interest in vinyl, this is a timely undertaking, one that wants to think critically about the 12” vinyl format today. What is at stake from a musical, temporal, visual, tactile, physical and conceptual perspective? We envisage that in responding to this question many possibilities will arise beyond the mere selection and presentation of a favourite album, although that is an option on the table here too.

The new program will get underway in April 2019 and comprise 12 displays over 12 months: as a subtle underscoring of the 12” vinyl format. Several participants in the 2015 program will return alongside others who will exhibit in the Gillick display unit for the first time.

The opening display is by the Düsseldorf artist Leni Hoffmann, who will present her graphic work for Robert Forster’s 1996 album 'Warm Nights'. With Forster’s new album ‘Inferno’ just out, the Hoffmann installation points up, amongst other things, how climate has long been a thematic device for the Brisbane singer/songwriter, who will himself participate in the program later in the year. Other confirmed participants include ANDRRA (Fatime Kosumi), Dave Hullfish Bailey, Brooke Ferguson, Ed Kuepper, John Nixon, Tim Page, Jan Timme, and David M. Thomas.

Heimo Zobernig + David Pestorius
9 April 2019, 6pm
Yuill/Crowley, Sydney

In 2012, the University Art Gallery at the University of Sydney restaged J.W. Power’s 1934 exhibition at the Paris showroom of the Abstraction-Création group, with the accompanying catalogue adding much to our knowledge of the Sydney artist. One of the subjects touched upon there was Power’s friendship with Otto Freundlich, the German constructivist who the Nazis singled out in their pre-war offensive against modern art, reproducing his work on the cover of the printed guide to their infamous ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition.

Focusing on Power’s links to Freundlich, this lecture is the outcome of recent archival research in France and The Netherlands and paints a vivid picture of the artist and his place in the Parisian art world of the 1930s. Of the revelations, perhaps the most remarkable concerns Power’s role in the anti-fascist cultural resistance during the dark days leading up to the Second World War. It demonstrates that this man of wealth and privilege was not only committed to preserving the freedom of art, but also to social equality and egalitarianism, something that enables us to better appreciate what motivated his great bequest to the University of Sydney.

David Pestorius’ lecture is being hosted by the Yuill/Crowley gallery and held in co-operation with the Power Institute at the University of Sydney. Introductory remarks: Professor Mark Ledbury, Director of the Power Institute. Installation and poster: Heimo Zobernig.

David Pestorius is an art historian, curator and the director of Australian Fine Arts in Brisbane. In the 1970s, he was taught photography by Fr Paul Gardiner SJ at St Ignatius College, Riverview, and soon after began to document Brisbane’s post-punk culture. In 2004, he was awarded the Power Institute Studio at the Cité in Paris and it was there that he and Heimo Zobernig first shined a light on the activities of J.W. Power.

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Green Room: Paul Bai, Stephen Bram, Gail Hastings, Joseph Marioni, Jan Timme
2 March – 27 April, 2019
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane

The Brisbane architect and designer of the Sweeney House (1966), Geoffrey Pestorius, was known to say “There are only two colours: green and dark green.” It therefore, perhaps, comes as no great surprise to learn that upon his engagement to journalist Geraldine Sweeney he gave her an emerald ring.

Of course, green was not the only colour that Geoff Pestorius favoured. He was also partial to a mustard yellow, which can be seen in the carefully chosen brickwork at the Sweeney House as well as in items of furniture that he either had made or otherwise acquired. Yet it was green that moved him most and it is everywhere present, both inside and out, at the Sweeney House, which since 1999 has been the site of numerous exhibitions and events held under the Pestorius Sweeney House banner. To celebrate this milestone, we are re-exhibiting a number of artworks that were originally shown at the Pestorius Sweeney House in days gone by and where the colour green is predominate.

Commencing with Jan Timme’s colour wheel clock, its naturalistic green hour markers chime visually as Joseph Marioni’s exquisite ‘Green Painting’ (2013) comes into view. The role of time and the self-reflexive experience of architectural space also figure in Gail Hastings’ ‘Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Art’ (1996). A pencil and watercolour drawing in two parts, the Hastings artwork takes Varvara Stepanova’s famous fabric patterns from the 1920s as its point of departure, while a small two point perspective painting from 2003 by Stephen Bram continues this spatio-temporal thematic. To round out the display, Brisbane artist Paul Bai has made a new artwork especially for the show.

Gabriel Poole: Photographer
12 October – 24 November, 2018
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane

The architecture of Gabriel Poole is well-known, especially his lightweight and environmentally sensitive houses on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. In 1991, Poole's Tent House at Eumundi received the Australian Institute of Architects’ Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture, while in 1998 he was awarded that organisation’s Gold Medal, its highest honour. A decade on, Poole's work was presented as precursory in a major survey of recent local architecture at the Queensland Art Gallery.

Less well-known is Poole’s architectural photography, which is the subject of this exhibition. Focusing on a group of important courtyard houses that Poole photographed for submissions to the Institute’s annual awards in the 1960s, the show features the architect’s family home, the Poole House (1962), designed while still a student draftsman in Robin Gibson’s office; the award-winning Mocatta House (1965, above), which Poole also designed while working for Gibson; Geoffrey Pie’s Ravenscraig 2 House (1965); and Geoffrey Pestorius’ Sweeney House (1966).

It is a significant grouping of vintage photographs: the original silver gelatin prints made by a now celebrated architect for an important occasion, they speak of a certain milieu of emerging Brisbane practitioners in the post-war period and how they adapted Mies van der Rohe’s Bauhaus teachings to the subtropical climate and topography of South East Queensland. Rejecting the rambling tin and timber stump-house, the so-called Queensland idiom, they created a new rectilinear ground-hugging architecture, predominantly of glass and masonry. With site and context, house and garden, inside and out, all precisely integrated within a spatially fluid, light, open and cool plan, these houses were compact and more in tune with local conditions than any of the regional vernacular building precedents.

Gabriel Poole’s photographs for also lend credence to the conceit that there was a Brisbane School of modern architecture and that it reached its apotheosis with the architects and houses the subject of this exhibition.

Jan Timme: Clouds
12 October – 24 November, 2018
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane

It is with great pleasure that we announce the first exhibition in Australia by the Berlin-based artist Jan Timme (*1971 in Stuttgart).

In 2007, Timme’s work was included in the pleonastically titled group exhibition ‘Romantic Conceptualism’. Curated by Jörg Heiser at the Kunsthalle Nürnberg, it sought to debunk the cliché that Conceptual Art is anti-romantic in nature and, its reciprocal, that Romantic Art is anti-conceptual. Then, in 2011, in an article for Artforum, the art historian and critic André Rottmann wrote of how Timme’s engagement with post-Duchampian practices is marked, not by nostalgia, academicism or simple emulation, but by a lightness and play that, dare we say it, approaches the condition of poetry. It is certainly true that the artist has bent and twisted pop song lyrics, including those of Brisbane group The Go-Betweens, to his own reflexive ends, with Timme’s diverse production since 1996 the subject of Endless Night, an exquisitely detailed 352 page monograph published by Koenig Books in 2017.

For his Brisbane exhibition, Timme takes the temporal experience of the Pestorius Sweeney House, with its Miesian flow and blurring of inside and out, as a springboard. The show’s title, ‘Clouds’, evokes multiple associations, amongst other things to Gabriel Poole’s dramatic 1967 photograph of the house on the cover of the small book devoted to it; to the predominantly Minimal-Conceptual program of the house over the last two decades (here clouds are the thought bubbles of cartoons, a Popist tradition that Timme is particularly adept at); and to the ever-changing conditions of natural light and the temporality this brings to the installation. All of these things find form in a new body of work that joins with the architecture in a reflexive doubling of its theatricality and discursive situation.

Another aspect of Timme’s Brisbane exhibition is its engagement with the discoveries of his fellow countryman, Sigmar Polke (1941–2010), whose 1981 travels in Australia’s Central Desert led him to a heightened appreciation of colour, especially purple, and its materiality. Timme recently retraced Polke’s steps with a view to experiencing for himself what its Aboriginal inhabitants have known for thousands of years — as the watercolours of Albert Namatjira (1902-1959) and his Arrernte followers so powerfully attest — and what Polke once mysteriously described as “an entirely abstract affair that you only get in this part of the world”.