HAZE: TULLY ARNOT, SARAH CONTOS AND JENSEN TJHUNG
SYDNEY. 22 AUGUST – 25 OCTOBER 2014.
Haze is an exhibition of new work by Australian artists Tully Arnot, Sarah Contos and Jensen Tjhung. Together, these three artists undertook 4A’s inaugural Beijing Studio Program at the studios of Chinese-Australian artist Shen Shaomin in Huairou on the northern outskirts of Beijing in September 2013. Upon returning to Australia the artists spoke of both the highlights and challenges of living and working on the fringes of the Chinese capital. The experience had a subtle effect on each artists’ individual practice, broadening their understanding of different conceptual approaches to object-making and divergent modes of interpretation.
Despite Huairou being known domestically as an ‘oxygen bar’ for Beijing due to its leafy environment at the foot of the Great Wall, Tully Arnot, Sarah Contos and Jensen Tjhung were transfixed by the grey mist that was a constant element within their surroundings. During their stay they individually began to consider their own position in this foreign landscape and the ways in which quotidian materials and objects – and language itself – can obfuscate simple understandings or explanations of place.
The artworks presented in Haze juxtapose structural materials such as concrete and steel with kinetic components, reconfiguring domestic objects with a sense of playfulness that highlights the absurdity and humour that can occur in moments of cultural exchange.
Download the exhibition room sheet here.
Tully Arnot’s practice develops on ‘outsider’ modes of invention, generating a non-teleological creative process with unanticipated outcomes. Inventive and alchemical explorations of material and form are used to explore the subtle changing of states within art from everyday object to sculpture/invention/artwork, or stuck between in a state of flux. Further Arnot’s work aims to reconnect with objects and understand what their functions (and by extension, our needs) really are. His works poetically interpret the intangible relationships we have with everyday items and illuminate new ways of thinking and interacting with the world around us., More subjectively, his work addresses feelings of absence, longing, play, the uncanny, human relationships with objects and technology, the absurd and contradiction. Arnot’s current research explores various real and imagined Artificial Intelligences, addressing the value of our relationships with non-sentient forms. His current body of work looks at the way these relationships feed back into our own capacity to interact meaningfully with one another. His work often integrates complex technologies with everyday or crass components. This merging of high and low thought exemplifies the isolating nature of our increasingly connected, but ultimately disconnected world.
Sarah Contos is a multidisciplinary artist working across various modes of collage, sculpture and installation. Her work unpacks notions of primitivism, eroticism and history – whether cultural or personal – utilising formal and referential counterpoints to explore ideas of identity, sensuality and myth. Working with a diverse range of materials – from ceramics, plaster and screenprinted textiles to collected fabrics and discarded objects – Contos forges disjunctions in culture, time and gender to create new mythologies, characters and histories, reflected in fictional objects and forms that float between the familiar and the uncanny. Her work is at once highly personal, intimate and enmeshed in wider taxonomies of art history.
Jensen Tjhung is a Melbourne-based artist. Graduating from the Victoria College of the Arts (painting) in 2002, Jensen has shown work at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart; Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, and has undergone residencies at Artspace, Sydney and Beijing Studio Program at 4A Centre Of Contemporary Art. Jensen’s work is often project-based, large scale installation and sculpture which addresses themes of belief, loss of belief, hysteria and void.
2SER Radio 107.3FM, So Hot Right Now with Jess Scully. Exhibition curator Toby Chapman and Sarah Contos interviewed on 16 August 2014. Podcast available here.
Gina Fairley, Great clarity in Haze partnership, Arts Hub, 27 August 2014.
Luise Guest, Haze at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, The Art Life, 26 August 2014.
Beijing Haze, Broadsheet.
Chloé Wolifson, REVIEW: Haze – Tully Arnot, Sarah Contos, Jensen Tjhung, RAVEN, 27 August 2014.
Haze is produced by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and has been assisted by Shen Shaomin Studios, Beijing; Concordia Galleries Artist in Residence program, Newington College, Sydney; Square One Studios, Sydney; and the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
The Beijing Studio Program is an annual program of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art that is supported by Vicki Olsson.