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  • issue 4
realms beyond reality:absurdity, whimsy, and surreality in australian contemporary art
I got them ol' Reunification Blues, Mamma 1990, by Michael Narozny MICHAEL NAROZNY
I got them ol’ Reunification Blues, Mamma
(detail) 1990
oil on canvas, 152 x 122 cm
© the artist
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In the fourth issue of the Allens Art Journal, we acknowledge some of those artists in the Collection such as Michael Narozny, James Gleeson, Selwyn Rodda, Pennie Pomroy, and Margot Hutcheson who present the surreal, the whimsical, the absurd, the bizarre, the ridiculous, and the uncanny: a set of propositions that ask the viewer to suspend their disbelief and allow themselves to be swept up in realms beyond reality.

In perspective: absurdity, whimsy, and surreality in contemporary art

Art appears in many forms, is inspired by a variety of issues, and is interpreted in an infinite number of ways. All artworks, however, are united by a single condition: they are products of human imagination.

Interview: Pennie Pomroy

Working across a variety of media including oil painting, printmaking and silver jewellery, Pennie Pomroy enthusiastically communicates something that is often lost in adult life: a vivid sense of imagination and whimsy.

Interview: Lauren Potts

Newcastle-based artist Lauren Potts creates powerful images of exotic and flamboyant animals depicted in artificial environments. Drawing inspiration from the Dutch tradition of Vanitas, Potts experiments with the symbolism of subjects to communicate the brevity of life and inevitability of death.

Focus: Margot Hutcheson

Three paintings: Colombian Relatives, Things Liven Up and Saturday Night in Orange.
"At what point does realism become surrealism? Fear become paranoia? I never thought of the Colombian Relatives as a surreal painting. To me it was an accurate portrait of the way these dark, noisy and exotic people behaved. They really did seem to be like drunk, egocentric parrots preening themselves in public. It’s certainly how I remember the evening."

Focus: Michael Narozny

Setting the scene and the dark humour behind the work of Michael Narozny.
"Most of those works are like sets for a stage. They are little stories; little narratives or vignettes of little stories."

Spotlight: John Kelly

Internationally renowned artist John Kelly (b. 1956, England) appropriates, deconstructs, and reinvents modern Australian art and history to present an absurd alternate possibility, a reality that is as unsettling as it is humorous.

Spotlight: Robert Parr

In different ways van Gogh’s and Ginsberg’s and Parr’s sunflowers lend us courage. Of all the qualities to be admired in Robert Parr’s work, the qualities of courage and optimism are the ones to treasure most.

Spotlight: Timothy Ralph

Timothy Ralph paints sophisticated complex paintings with extraordinary graphic skill and clarity of detail which are loaded with art-historical references and other pictorial asides. His work is a testament to the value of craftsmanship from the Old Masters tradition and traces of Goya and Breughel become apparent. Other influences include de Chirico and Australian artists Brack and Senbergs.

Recent acquisition: Caterina Elisabetta Pilato

"My work is based around the exploration of the psychological and philosophical areas in which human beings relate to each other in the world. My work deals with an investigation into the rational mind versus the emotional mind."

Recent acquisition: Judy Garb-Weiss

Judy’s practice is a confluence of the metaphysical and the surreal. At their core, her works explore the essence of things. When she applies her own internal prism, seemingly mundane subjects take on an unexpected, often ambiguous cast.