Salome's Dance

Exhibition review Blind: Annette Bezor Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia March 26 - April 20 1997

One of the many recent Craftsman House contemporary art monographs New Visions - New Perspectives: Voices of Contemporary Australian Women Artists, compiled by Anna Voigt and published in 1996, includes an interview with Annette Bezor. She mentions the commencement around 1987 in Paris of a series of paintings called Entanglement in which she began to embrace the idea of "intuitive painting".

Ten years later it is still Bezor's habit to layer images on top of other images so that there is a sense of the subconscious or unconscious either being allowed space to unfold or being pushed to the surface. She is a painter who is interested in surface and illusion, in how much she can work on the canvas and in the way she can display her well-developed skills in representation and then destroy or veil them with another layer of painting and then yet another. This layering has the effect of multiplying the possible voices coming from the paintings as well as overlaying the banal or sentimental, which often resides in representational painting, with a suggestion of the interrelatedness of all experience and with a great pleasure in the decorative. It is curious that a lot of the new diaphanous fabrics for clothing now being made are similar to this patterned, see-through and layering approach.

The body of work shown at Greenaway contains some Entanglement works, metamorphosed by this stage into flat surfaces of competing layers. Frequently edges of a naturalistic painting can be seen as a base overlaid by stencilled layers of lace, binding and other patterning. It is easy on the eye as a sense of balance or harmony holds each inch of the work in relation to the rest of it. The painting Bound with its final layer of a small gold frame, which is also like a chain or a lock, speaks of an ultimate muteness in the face of all the competing stories of colour and textures, any sense of a true voice is muffled, disguised, hidden.

The seed of Bezor's next body of work which relates to the artist's current circumstances, namely living in an apartment in Paris without a studio in which to make large paintings, can be found in this exhibition in the laser scan on canvas print Builder of bridges Homage to Braulio Arenas. Arenas was a Chilean Surrealist whose tiny collages speak intensely to Bezor and "build a bridge" in a new direction. Due to space restriction she has been making small black and white collages from found images and her own drawings. These works are/will be massively enlarged and transferred to canvas by laser printing then painted, or maybe not.

The strong Spanish feeling of Arena's work emphasizes an influence that Bezor is now open to through living for half of the year in Paris, going to markets there and being exposed to the history and material objects with which Europe is crowded. Perhaps the Antipodean eye, like the South American eye, experiences the weight of centuries of European civilisation in a different way. The work of Max Ernst, his frottages and collages and most particularly Une Semaine de Bonté comes to mind.

For Bezor the excitement of the new technologies, processes which are undergoing rapid change, processes which are outdated as soon as they begin to seem familiar, the flatness which which they represent colour and texture, the way they homogenize layers and edges, are a vital part of this experiment with scale, media and approach. Thus there is the sense of a new journey in Bezor's work, of an apprenticeship completed and of a movement towards an unknown future.

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