Dispatch Review respectfully acknowledges the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners and custodians of the lands upon which we live, work and enjoy. We pay deep respect to Elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Reviews:

  1. Death Metal Summer by Sam Beard.
  2. Players, Places: Reprised, Renewed, Reviewed by Aimee Dodds.
  3. Scholtz: Two Worlds Apart by  Corderoy, Fisher, Flaherty, Wilson, Fletcher,  Jorgensen, & Glover.
  4. Partial Sightings by Sam Beard.
  5. True! Crime. by Aimee Dodds.
  6. The Human Condition by Rex Butler.
  7. Light Event by Sam Beard.
  8. Rejoinder: Archival / Activism by Max Vickery.
  9. Access and Denial in The Purple Shall Govern by Jess van Heerden.
  10. 4Spells by Sam Beard.
  11. Abstract art, DMT capitalism and the ugliness of David Attwood’s paintings
    by Darren Jorgensen.
  12. Unearthing new epistemologies of extraction by Samuel Beilby.
  13. Seek Wisdom by Max Vickery.
  14. Something for Everyone by Sam Beard.
  15. Violent Sludge by Aimee Dodds.
  16. State of Abstraction by Francis Russell.
  17. Double Histories: Special Issue, with texts by Ian McLean, Terry Smith, and Darren Jorgensen & Sam Beard.
  18. Six Missing Shows by Sam Beard.
  19. What We Memorialise by Max Vickery.
  20. At the End of the Land by Amelia Birch.
  21. The beautiful is useful by Sam Beard.
  22. ām / ammā / mā maram by Zali Morgan.
  23. Making Ground, Breaking Ground by Maraya Takoniatis.
  24. Art as Asset by Sam Beard.
  25. Cactus Malpractice by Aimee Dodds.
  26. Sweet sweet pea by Sam Beard.
  27. COBRA by Francis Russell.
  28. PICA Barn by Sam Beard .
  29. Gallery Hotel Metro by Aimee Dodds.
  30. A Stroll Through the Sacred, Profane, and Bizarre by Samuel Beilby.
  31. Filling in the Gaps at Spacingout by Maraya Takoniatis.
  32. Disneyland Cosmoplitanism by Sam Beard.
  33. Discovering Revenue by Anonymous.
  34. Uncomfortable Borrowing by Jess van Heerden.
  35. It’s Not That Strange by Stirling Kain.
  36. Hatched Dispatched by Sam Beard & Aimee Dodds.
  37. Fuck the Class System by Jess van Heerden, Jacinta Posik, Darren Jorgensen, et al.
  38. Wild About Nothing by Sam Beard.
  39. Paranoiac, Peripatetic: Pet Projects by Aimee Dodds.
  40. An Odd Moment for Women’s Art by Maraya Takoniatis.
  41. Transmutations by Sam Beard.
  42. The Post-Vandal by Sam Beard.
  43. Art Thugs and Humbugs by Max Vickery.
  44. Disneyland, Paris, Ardross and the artworld by Darren Jorgensen.
  45. Bizarrely, A Biennale by Aimee Dodds.
  46. Venus in Tullamarine by Sam Beard.
  47. Weird Rituals by Sam Beard.
  48. Random Cube by Francis Russell.
  49. Yeah, Nah, Rockpool by Aimee Dodds.
  50. Towards a Blind Horizon by Kieron Broadhurst.
  51. Being Realistic by Sam Beard.




In a scene reminiscent of Courbet's Origin of the World (1866), a woman gives birth to the native and colonial wildlife of Australia, portrayed in half-formed pastel shapes. It is a mythy and magical origin story, Biblical in scale and content. This massive two by nearly-four metre piece of linen is one of Natalie Scholtz’s paintings as part of Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery’s current offering Jintulu: People of the Sun. It may as well be a solo show—the room features two of these gargantuan linen murals as well as two series of portraits and figures. These two mammoth beige pieces of fabric are loosely pinned to the wall by their top corners, bulging and waving as air conditioning breezes pass them by. They may have worked better as murals: they look a little precious hung on the clean walls of this old-school university gallery.
        Scholtz’s other paintings on display are also radically figurative, depicting disfigured bodies and agonised faces, produced by the hand of an accomplished painter confident with colour and scale. She layers her colours, as if in a screen print, to pull such figures from the overall shape of the painting, seducing us into worlds populated by difficult, misshapen animals and people. The sunshine in the corner of one of the big canvases is juxtaposed against the layers and layers of washes. Does Scholtz move quickly or slowly; does she work with deliberateness, or in a state of frenzy? While her compositions are spacious, her figures huddle together, overlapping one another, scrambling to the surface as if in competition for the viewer's attention. They beg us not to leave them alone with one another in their expansive landscapes.
        In a superb series of mixed media portraits on paper, faces made of pen, ink, and paint are forcibly twisted into masks. It is again as if Scholtz’s subjects are crying out to be released from the page. Perhaps these works are not meant to be read as strict portraiture, however the people in her art are emblematic of a story that Scholtz seems to be interested in telling. Clues to this story lie in the titles. The smaller portrait series have titles like The Cat, the Kanga and the Cow (2023), while the two big paintings are called Unbirthing patriotism (2023) and Noah prepares for an exhibition (2023). The story might also include her mixed cultural and ethnic heritage, her ‘melange of identities’, as the catalogue explains.
        Curatorial decisions around the show tend to cloud whatever this story might be. Some of her smaller works are juxtaposed with two paintings by Irwin Lewis from the University’s Berndt Museum collection. Against the larger pieces on charcoal-coloured walls this smaller collection of minor pieces does not quite work, with Scholtz’s enormous pieces dominating the room with their esoteric flair. Lewis’s small, amateurish paintings are of faces, but they are completely out of tune and context with Scholtz’s lively, fiery style. Their awkward inclusion here was likely part of the broader intercultural and syncretic logic of the Jintulu project. For instance, in LWAG’s other large gallery, the curators foster a dialogue in which Murungkurr Terry Murray’s paintings Japingka Jila Dreaming (2024) and Jila Japingka Creation & Jila Permanent Water (2024) responds to Sidney Nolan’s immense, historical collage of hand-coloured prints, The Snake (1973).
        On the outside wall of Scholtz’s show is a third large linen work, a collaboration with Curtis Taylor called MUTHA COUNTRY (2023). It is a striking painting, depicting a crouched cowboy amidst psychedelic patterning, and comes from Scholtz’s collaborative show with Curtis Taylor, Past their Flesh, at PS Artspace in 2023. Past their Flesh was an attack on Australiana through collaborative paintings and prints which misused national icons such as kangaroos and bilbies, Vegemite jars, and Western Desert roundels. Here the avant-garde Taylor pushed Scholtz’s brilliant figuration into an ugly realism, while in Jintulu her painting lingers in a feminine or feminist realm, her bodies twisting under our gaze, directly conveying the gendered anxieties and anguish of objectification.
        The sense of an unfinished project haunts Scholtz’s show, in spite of the quality of her work. Even the gripping Unfinished Patriotism does not look finished, the empty surfaces that surround its creation scene uncomfortably echoing the cavernous space of the gallery. These unworked spaces evince an incompleteness, not a controlled decision by the artist. Perhaps it could have worked better in a more crowded room, taking as its model the curatorial clutter of the Tennant Creek Brio exhibition, which was exhibited in the same gallery as part of Black Sky in 2023. There are other curatorial decisions that might have helped here, such as hanging the linen murals at a distance from the wall. Perhaps if the artist had painted on both sides of these sprawling fabrics, there may not have been such an overwhelming sense that they were fighting the staid space around them.
        In any case the works themselves are compelling, almost too much of a good thing, a discovery for those of us who have not seen Scholtz’s work before. If this show puts Scholtz on the map as a major local artist, one whose quality of expressionist painting can fill a room, it also begs the question as to how her work might have been hung with less of a sense that she had been left adrift in vastness of the gallery’s architecture, her story confused with the presence of works by different artist (Lewis) and muddled by including a collaborative work from a previous show (MUTHA COUNTRY). The punchiness that comes with each of her paintings is undermined by this curatorial uncertainty, the clean lines of the gallery architecture mismatched by Scholtz’s figures that slide and distort into a dripping, uncomfortable psychedelia.

Jintulu: People of the Sun runs from 17 February –27 April 2024 at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.



Artwork credits:

1. Natalie Scholtz, Unbirthing patriotism, 2023, mixed media on linen, 220 x 377 cm, courtesy and © the artist.

2. Natalie Scholtz and Curtis Taylor, MUTHA CUNTRY, 2023, mixed media on linen, 218 x 215 cm, courtesy and ©the artists,photograph: Churchill Imaging.