Archive for the ‘Miso and Ghostpatrol’ Tag

Nesting and dying….

Miso and Ghostpatrol, as many of you reading this blog will know, are two artists living and working in Melbourne, and making images both on and off the street. They’re two of the most interesting artists in this city, for a whole range of reasons. For one thing, although they each work as solo artists, they also work together – and their collaborations reach the kind of intense symbiosis that I mentioned in an earlier post (‘Criminal damage?’).

If you are interested in seeing something of their work in a gallery context, they have a show on until 7 November 2008, at metro 5 gallery. The show is called ‘Nesting and Dying’, and in that title you can see some of Miso and Ghostpatrol’s preoccupations: the tension between life and death, the beauty that exists in both, and the need to represent both.

One thing that’s striking about the show is its creation of a distinctive world. The artists have installed the artworks along with a series of objects and contextual items so that the space not longer feels like just a gallery, but suggests itself as something else as well. As for what that ‘something else’ is, there is a lot of ambiguity. There are shelves with objects placed on them; there are stuffed animals in the midst of the floor. It’s hard to say what kind of place is being evoked – someone’s home? a scene from a fairytale? a fantasy?

The artworks themselves are fascinating. There are works by each individual artist. Ghostpatrol has created a number of images made by drawing on pencils. That’s not drawing with pencils, but drawing on pencils. The side of each pencil contains a fragment of a larger image; when the pencils are laid side by side, the fragments create the overall image. The result is something small (only the sum of several pencils, after all), but it represents itself as larger than its components… And it is an image made from the tools used to create images – a wonderful demonstration of reflexivity in an artwork. Along with these there are some lovely drawings, containing many of the figures characteristic of Ghostpatrol’s work. a person, a rabbit, a knife. Small figures in a forest. All drawn with great precision, all extremely appealing, yet at the same time slightly odd, slightly out of kilter.

And Miso’s work – well, there are some lovely, lovely images. I stood for a long time in front of one, a large piece on wooden board, which depicts a female figure – it’s shown on the gallery website, if you would like to take a look. The work contains so many different elements – cut out paper pasted onto the wood, a sketched drawing of part of the figure, decorative textures that suggest the figure’s clothing and which also flow into the wooden backdrop. Something in this image really resonated with me – perhaps it’s because the female figure seems to be both emerging out of and receding into the background. It’s technqiue like this that explains why Miso’s paste-ups can work so well on the street – the figures look both to be an integral part of the setting in which they appear and also separate enough from it to generate a fleeting conversation with it.

In addition to their solo works, the artists have created some images together. These are interesting because one can still see the ‘hand’ of each individual artist at work within them, while the two distinctive styles mesh together really well. And overall, it is fascinating to try and think through how and why their styles, even within the exhibition as a whole, produce this gorgeously resonant collaboration. There’s a shared palette of colours (browns, grey, black, bone), for one thing, and an interest in textures (wood, paper, stone). But more than this, there’s a strong sense of a shared sensibility of the image. In trying to capture what this is, I can’t do any better than quote the words of my partner, who came to the show with me. Looking around the gallery, he said that it was as if the works were illustrations in a book of fairytales in which the stories had not yet been written. And that’s it: these strange, evocative, heartfelt, uncanny images make visible for us – momentarily – the unwritten stories that animate them.

A moment of maternal pride…

On Saturday I was walking down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy with my daughter, when I spotted one of Miso and Ghostpatrol’s paste-ups – one of the ones depicting themselves in fox masks. The image was pasted up on the side of an airconditioner, positioned high outside a hairdresser’s.

Here’s a close-up of the work:

I said to my daughter, ‘Look – up there! Do you see what’s stuck up there?’ My daughter, in a very matter of fact voice, said, ‘Yes, yes, it’s by Miso and Ghostpatrol.’

In the midst of my embarassment at not realising how well-developed her awareness of street art is becoming, I felt a huge sense of delight and pride – both in her ability to recognize the artists who had made this artwork, and in her growing up with an interest in and appreciation of art in the street as well as in galleries and museums.

Mind you, knowing what happens when ‘teenage rebellion’ kicks in, she’ll probably join RAGE or something when she grows up. (Hope not!) But for now – all good!

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