Review: Less at The Laundry

Rachael Wellisch / Indigo series 2015 installed at The Laundry Artspace / image source: The Laundry Artspace

Words by Soph Kubler

Amongst the visible PVC plumbing and practical concrete floors, The Laundry Artspace’s latest exhibition, Less, permeates the domestic, East Brisbane space with a surprising sense of intimacy. A group exhibition of ten, emerging, post-minimalist artists may at first seem out of place amidst the quaint character of the site’s classic, Queensland architecture; however, the previous life of the space as a place of functionality is suitably juxtaposed against the artists’ abstract aesthetic.

Moving through the exhibition is an intimate experience. As one wanders through the small and distinct spaces, the anonymity of the artists exhibited allows for the conceptual dominance of the work to resonate with the viewer. Thus, the lack of didactic labels is welcome, ensuring the viewer’s embodied experience over prescriptive pacing. Released from captions, the dialogues between artworks are intensified, with the exploration of materiality resonating across the exhibition.

This distinctive investigation of material presence is particularly apparent in Elizabeth Willing’s Cheese Sunset (2016), – a work comprising 196 processed cheese slices. Producing a two-toned, minimalist sunset, the use of cheese is not uncanny but rather captivating in its bold, yellowy palette. Cheese Sunset may even demand a double take as the realisation of the work’s materiality sets in, perpetuated by the odour of the cheese, and presses upon us to consider the inherent aesthetic qualities in the material itself. This broader dialogue is also engaged with in Rachael Wellisch’s various paintings from her Indigo (2015) series, whose use of organic materials directly contrasts Willing’s synthetic aesthetic.

However, whilst Wellisch’s work is dissimilar to that of her co-exhibitors, specifically interrogating the dualist constructions between nature and culture, the desire to uncover new methods of deconstruction is pertinent amongst all of the artists. In particular, Madeleine Keinonen’s 2015 work, Constructions from Fragmented Forms, explores the fragmentation of the body and the self, as images of the body are abstracted through tearing and pierced with nails – perhaps gesturing to the way in which our perceptions of our own external body often penetrate the inner, intangible aspects of our being.

As notions of materiality, fragmentation and the abstract transform The Laundry Artspace, it is clear that post-minimalism has a bright future in Brisbane. The diversity of conceptual and material experimentation among these artists is played out harmoniously across the space and creates a dialogue, which attempts to take apart our restricted understanding of beauty, form and representation.