Recent, Current and Upcoming

Nevil Matthews - Pestorius Sweeney House
Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson: CityCat Project 2017 - Other Locations
Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson: CityCat Project 2016 - Pestorius Sweeney House
50: Drewe & Pestorius’ Sweeney House - Pestorius Sweeney House
Heimo Zobernig - Pestorius Sweeney House
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Nevil Matthews
1 March – 15 April, 2017
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane


When the Brisbane artist Nevil Matthews died in early 2013 at the age of 82 there was no obituary, much less a memorial exhibition or retrospective.

Yet in the 1960s and 70s Matthews was perhaps Brisbane’s most successful and accomplished artist. Between 1963 and 1972 he had no less than five solo exhibitions at The Johnstone Gallery, the city’s leading contemporary art dealer of the time. It is an achievement all the more remarkable given that Matthews’ hard-edge abstraction was dramatically at odds with the antipodean nationalism that so defined the Johnstone’s program (not that one would get a sense of this from Nancy Underhill’s sentimental and shambolic recent account of the gallery). The artist also had several exhibitions with Kym Bonython in Sydney and at South Yarra Galleries in Melbourne.

While Matthews was essentially a painter, perhaps his greatest achievements were in the field of architecture and it is instructive that during the early 1960s he was close to the artist/designer Clement Meadmore, who was then living in Sydney. Matthews’ 1973 coloured-glass windows for Robin Gibson’s Mayne Hall (1973), now the University of Queensland Art Museum, are so well integrated that he could be credited as co-creator of the building. Indeed, Matthews and Gibson had a long and productive association. It is thought to have begun with the artist’s own home, the Matthews House (1958) in The Gap, and continued into the 1980s, with Gibson’s crowning achievement, the Queensland Cultural Centre (1982), said to be substantially indebted to Matthews’ drawings and advice. Needless to say, this is not how history records events.

Between 1966 and 1968 Matthews lived in London, where he knew the English painter Bridget Riley. His work Drop Through 4 (1967) betrays this association. Part of a large series of paintings and drawings shown at the Johnstone Gallery in 1969, their play with circles and abrasive opticality, but also the brief but evocative titles Matthews gave his London work, are all reminiscent of Riley’s approach.

In the 1970s, Matthews’ paintings became increasingly constructive, with the integration of diverse materials, including aluminium and coloured perspex. He also activated the diagonal in his painting and here too we are reminded of Riley. The Great Australian Totem (1970), is an example of the former, its title a dig at nationalism, our predominantly outdoor culture and worship of the sun.

Drop Through 4 and The Great Australian Totem are currently on exhibition at the Pestorius Sweeney House and can be viewed by appointment only until 15 April, while a group of Matthews’ painting sketches from 1967 will be exhibited later in the year in a further belated tribute to one of Brisbane’s most significant but now sadly undervalued artists.








Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson: CityCat Project 2017
15 March — 8 April, 2017
Australian Fine Arts/David Pestorius at Neon Parc, Melbourne



Neon Parc is pleased to announce the exhibition Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson: CityCat Project 2017, an ongoing collaboration (since 2006) between Los Angeles artist Dave Hullfish Bailey and Brisbane Aboriginal activist and writer Sam Watson. Presented by Australian Fine Arts/David Pestorius, the curator of the project, the show bridges indigenous concerns and political action across geographic borders.

Building upon works first presented at the Pestorius Sweeney House in Brisbane last December, the exhibition includes photo and text-based works created by Bailey in the aftermath of a visit in October 2016 to the camps near Cannonball, North Dakota, where Indigenous leaders and environmental activists came together to resist construction of an oil pipeline that has destroyed sacred sites and threatens supplies of drinking water. The exhibition features photographs of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) encampment — where the Aboriginal flag flew proudly near the main entry — alongside archival images of the Aboriginal Embassy media event in Canberra in 1972. Through these juxtapositions, Bailey frames parallels between the birth of the Aboriginal land rights movement and the current resurgence of sovereignty issues raised in North Dakota.

The exhibition will also feature documentary photo and video works relating to Bailey and Watson’s collaborative Maiwar Performance on the Brisbane River (Maiwar). Staged in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2016, the performance involves unannounced interruptions to the normal routing of Brisbane’s popular CityCat ferries to highlight the colonial past of the river and reintroduce indigenous narratives. The location of the interruptions is both the site of an ancient Dreaming story and also the colonial boundary that excluded Aboriginal people from the city after dark. Seen by Watson as an important act of Indigenous empowerment, the Maiwar Performance seeks to restore agency to the Indigenous people living around Brisbane by bringing past narratives alive within the community, and by projecting the possibility of a future not definitively determined by the recent past.

A question operating just beneath the exhibition is the ways in which the Aboriginal Embassy and the ongoing encampments in North Dakota can be understood as incubators of inter-tribal solidarity and emerging pan-aboriginal identities at national and international scales. Bailey explores these themes through text-based works, including flags which conjoin formal aspects of the Aboriginal flag with the sentence “Wake Up Relatives” used by leaders to muster the water protectors to pre-dawn prayers and front-line actions during his visit to North Dakota last October. In these works the distinctive and highly elemental design of the Aboriginal flag comes to the fore, posing a visual synecdoche for the movement from concrete circumstances and local traditions to unifying abstractions and symbols. Transposing its signature red, black and yellow colours as fields for language re-opens questions of relation to their modernist cousins. Against the rise of nationalist movements worldwide, the flags become a series of problem objects which ask viewers to reassess the modern project 100 years in, and perhaps to reconsider their definition of ‘relatives’ in much deeper frames of time.

Coinciding with the show will be a number of related events, including lecture/performances by Dave Hullfish Bailey at Monash University, Caulfield Campus on Thursday 16 March and RMIT Centre for Art, Society and Transformation on Friday 17 March, while on Saturday 25 March the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art will host the official launch of Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson: CityCat Project 2006–2016, edited by Rex Butler and published by the Sternberg Press. The launch by Aboriginal activist and historian Gary Foley will be preceded by a Q&A session involving Foley and Sam Watson, both of whom were key participants in the Aboriginal Embassy media event, and be mediated by Paola Balla, co-curator of ACCA’s current Sovereignty project.








Dave Hullfish Bailey + Sam Watson: CityCat Project 2016
Performance: CityCat ferries, Brisbane River
3 December, 2016, 1–5pm
Exhibition: Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane
3 December 2016 — 28 January, 2017
Opening 3 December, 2016, 6pm
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane


David Pestorius is pleased to announce the tenth anniversary staging of Maiwar Performance by Los Angeles artist Dave Hullfish Bailey and Brisbane Aboriginal community leader Sam Watson. Immediately following its original staging in December 2006, Watson, who is also a critically acclaimed writer, declared the performance to be a manifestation of the local Dreaming that should be periodically re-enacted into the future. This is the fourth occasion that the event has been staged.

The 2016 iteration of the Maiwar Performance, which may be experienced on CityCat ferries travelling between the West End and St Lucia terminals between 1–5pm on 3 December, will be accompanied by an exhibition of recent material works from the CityCat Project. The exhibition involves the complex juxtaposition of photo-works, including recent images of the camps at Standing Rock North Dakota, where representatives of over 200 First Nations are currently gathered in support of the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux Nation), whose sacred sites and water supplies are threatened by the construction of a nearby oil pipeline. Thought to be the largest gathering of the Sioux Nation since the Battle of the Little Bighorn against Custer in 1876, the camps and frontline actions acutely focus debates around the rights of Indigenous people over their ancestral lands.

In Bailey’s photographs of the Standing Rock camps, Harold Thomas’ Aboriginal Flag is seen flying proudly near the main entrance. Alongside these photographs, Bailey will present archival images showing Sam Watson at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972 (generously provided by renowned Aboriginal activist and historian Gary Foley), while a third grouping of photographs document aspects of the 2012 iteration of the Maiwar Performance. Through juxtapositions of these images, Bailey frames parallels between the birth of the Aboriginal land rights movement and the current resurgence of sovereignty struggles at Standing Rock, while also positioning the Maiwar Performance within that larger context. In Bailey’s exhibition the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Standing Rock encampment can also be understood as incubators of inter-tribal solidarity and emerging pan-aboriginal identities at national and international scales, with the distinctive design of the Aboriginal flag becoming a visual touchstone for the movement from concrete circumstances and local traditions to unifying abstractions.

The exhibition will open at the Pestorius Sweeney House at 6pm on Saturday 3 December and be open by appointment only until 28 January 2017.

The Maiwar Performance is generously sponsored by the Brisbane City Council.






Drewe & Pestorius, Sweeney House (1966),
photo: Gabriel Poole, 1967.

50: Drewe & Pestorius’ Sweeney House
27 August – 26 November, 2016
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane


Curated by Dr Andrew Wilson (Head, The Leeds School of Architecture), the exhibition 50: Drewe & Pestorius’ Sweeney House celebrates the 50th anniversary of the modern house that Brisbane architect Geoff Pestorius (1930–1968) designed for his brother-in-law Robert Sweeney. In a city that continues to fetishize the local ‘tin and timber’ vernacular building tradition and it’s dubious legacy, it is unusual to see Modernist masonry houses make it to fifty unscathed. Despite being more at one with the sub-tropical climate and evidencing a spatial sophistication that eclipses so much of what passes for domestic architecture today, these remarkable houses are still not singled out for heritage protection, but allowed to fall victim to rampant redevelopment.

Located on a modest corner block high on Hamilton Hill, the Sweeney House is perhaps the best surviving example of how post-war Brisbane architects adapted the lessons of the Bauhaus to local climatic and geographic conditions. Marked by an abundance of floor-to-ceiling glazing, house and garden blur into one another while the open-plan is a case study in cross-ventilation, natural lighting and spatial fluidity.

The important outdoor spaces of the Sweeney House, which were realised in cooperation with pioneering Brisbane landscape architect Arne Fink (1930–1993), reflect a balance of Indigenous, Oceanic and Asian species, with many of the original plantings still extant. Much of the original furniture also remains in situ and has been augmented with period pieces acquired locally from Danish Quality Furniture and the Craftsman’s Market, as well as rare constructivist chairs by Campbell Scott and a small pine table by Robert Dunlop.

The exhibition, which will be presented in the stairhall gallery (originally designed to accommodate Robert Sweeney’s art collection), will include original drawings, blueprints and vintage photographs taken by architect Gabriel Poole soon after the house was completed in 1966. In addition, a book by Leni Hoffmann with essays by Dr Wilson, Jonathan Kopinski and David Pestorius is being produced to accompany the exhibition.

Please note that attendance at this exhibition is by appointment only and that persons wishing to see it should contact David Pestorius on (07) 3262 4870 to arrange a suitable time.









Heimo Zobernig
6 August – 3 December, 2016
Pestorius Sweeney House, Brisbane


If there was ever any doubt about Mies van der Rohe’s logic in choosing a life-size bronze for his Barcelona Pavilion (1929), it was resolved once and for all when Philip Johnson invited the architect to design the dust-jacket for the monograph accompanying his 1947 MoMA retrospective. For that small but significant commission, Mies chose a side view of the Barcelona courtyard animated by Georg Kolbe’s vampiric sculpture ‘Morning’, its hands shielding its eyes in an echo of the pavilion’s roofline, its generous overhanging eaves providing shaded respite from the bright Catalan sun.

It is hard not to see Mies’ selection of the Kolbe sculpture for his pavilion in Barcelona as a kind of architectural doubling. And not only on account of the revealing dust-jacket photograph. Two years after his Barcelona exhibition, Mies would again collaborate with Kolbe on a public display: his equally important, but less well-known, Berlin Exhibition House (1931). For that project, Mies also chose a Kolbe figure that served a mirroring function, it’s ambulatory form offering a clue to the radical spatial fluidity that so characterised the architect’s work.

Since 1999 Heimo Zobernig has visited and exhibited at the Pestorius Sweeney House in Brisbane on numerous occasions. Indeed, more often than any other artist, while his painted carpet for the living/dining room is now a permanent installation. Zobernig knows well the nuances of the house, with its walled court, pond, sculpture base, and, of course, its fluid open plan and blurring of inside and out, all taking their cue from Mies. For his 2016 exhibition, the artist puts this knowledge to use as he explores the place of sculpture in modern architecture, updating the intertwined story of Mies and Kolbe.

While Zobernig has for many years experimented with readymade mannequins, in 2015 he began to work in bronze, casting and conjoining male and female components along with 3D scans of his own head to create strangely androgynous beings. However, rather than cutting the casting sprues flush and sand-blasting the residue and welds to conceal the process, the artist toys with these aspects of finish in highly inventive and unexpected ways. And, as with other strands of the Zobernig’s vast oeuvre (think, for example, of his grid paintings that incorporate the masking tape into the work), a complex imaginative space opens up for the viewer, who, to follow the artist’s logic, finally ‘finishes’ the work.

Heimo Zobernig was born in 1958 in Mauthen and lives in Vienna, where since 2000 he has been Professor of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts. He has participated in Documenta 9, 10 and 11, while in 2010 he was awarded the prestigious Kiesler Prize for architecture and the arts. In 2016, Zobernig’s architectural intervention for Josef Hoffann’s Austrian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale was awarded the Roswitha Haftmann Prize, Europe’s best-endowed prize in the field of contemporary art.

Please note that attendance at this exhibition is by appointment only and that persons wishing to see it should contact David Pestorius on (07) 3262 4870 to arrange a suitable time.