Neil Malone, there/now/here/then
Stockroom Gallery, Kyneton; 9 February – 3 March 2013
The secret door, the hidden room, the entrance to the villain’s lair. Remember those movies where someone felt along the wall, looking for the right block of stone to push in? The stone that would depress and open up a whole new space in the house. Or castle. I’m so compelled to reach out and touch these highly haptic prints by Neil Malone that my mind turns instantly to that memory. The surface of the prints is rich in texture, complex in colouration. That idea of a portal release into another space, another dimension, rings true of all good art. Art should transport your mind and activate your central nervous system. Standing here, enveloped by Neil’s prints, my body wants to move to them, then into them. I feel their weight while knowing their lightness. My body measures them while my eyes sweep endlessly over them.
Arranged in large grid formations the works read as building blocks, as strings of data, or as pixels. They are rhythmic visual poems, phrased and nuanced through patterned colour combinations and subtle internal shape variations. Like good language they usurp their supporting structure. As words on a page become visible realities inside your mind, freed from their typeset arrangements on paper, Neil’s prints free themselves from the wall. The grammar is abstracted like musical notation and the viewer is the conductor – seeking chordal combinations, finding refrains and a fermata for a pause.
Crack open each note though and you reveal a song. The unit is complex. Each pixel, each byte, is a packet of yet more data. Get up close and each print is a universe unto itself. Individuals reveal their identity in the crowded mass. Oscillating happily between the singular and the group it’s possible to pick up familial couplings. Cousined connections. Partners wave from within the crowd.
Layered and worked the prints are imbued with time and process. They are palimpsests of overwritten historical codes. Each print bears the weight of labour and poured application of the artist’s attention. And his intention. They are documents, as if a giant tome from a foreign culture laid bare for examination. All the pages laid in formation. This is information in formation. It’s DNA, software code and a colour score. It’s a feeling in your gut created by the fall of light on your eyes. It’s the urge to decipher puzzles couched in the willingness to surrender to beauty. It’s full and it’s embracing, and like a good symphony it’s been playing in my head since my first visit.