Geoffrey Bartlett Sculptures

Artwork by Geoffrey Bartlett

Whales in a Red Sea

2003

Anodised Aluminium, Aluminium

44 x 77 x 37 cm

Collection of the artist

Exhibited: 2004, Australian National University Drill Hall Gallery, Volume and Sensuality. 2004, John Buckley, New Works, 2007, National Gallery of Victoria

Photograph by John Gollings

Comments: Edition 1 of 6. A different version (right) was exhibited at the Drill Hall Gallery. The aluminium frame was not anodised and had blue paint rubbed into it. The waves reversed.

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My fixation with the detail of surface continues. It began with a trip to Europe in 2001 where I found myself being drawn ever closer to the sumptuous surfaces of works from all disciplines and eras. It seemed that upon entering a museum my need was no longer to seek out the great works of the collection but to indulge my growing addiction to the nuances and varieties of surfaces: delicately carved Egyptian funerary reliefs from the 3rd century, the abstract design of mosaic floor tiles in a Byzantine church and the intricately coffered vault of a Baroque chapel. I became fascinated by the way the underlying structure is both revealed and concealed by the outward facade of these works.

Endangered species is a recurrent theme that alludes to issues of sustainability. In these recent works there is an uneasy marriage between forms suggestive of creatures of uncertain origins with the intentionally provocative use of 6000 ball bearings of industrial manufacture or the 4000 steel washers embedded in the vivid pigmentation of polyester resins. Whales breach in a sea of red while fish-like forms are dotted with Aluminium sleeves used by the long-line fishing industry in their harvest.

Previously I felt a deep need to research the influences that shaped my work, now my connection to them became more immediate through a detailed evaluation of their surfaces. My response became more emotive and visceral rather than purely intellectual. My sculptures may initially be seen from a distance with an inevitable assessment made about their entirety. However in these recent works, the highly activated surfaces act as a device to draw the viewer closer, to be engaged in a dialogue at ever diminishing distances. To be consumed by detail, establishing a connection through this compressed intimacy of engagement.

Geoffrey Bartlett 2004

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