Soft Core

Shepparton Art Museum Koji Ryui Have a Nice Day, 2014 AARAn exhibition of newly commissioned and recent work by 13 Australian and International artists whose work questions the fluctuating meaning of softness, Shepparton Art Museum presents Soft Core, on display from 27 January 2018.

Soft Core presents artistic practices that explore the many facets of ‘softness’ – from large-scale inflatables to forms made from soft materials to materials that simply look soft. These artists are making works that demand attention.

Curated by Micheal Do, Soft Core includes works by 12 preeminent Australian and International artists including international superstar artist Tony Oursler; Michael Parekowhai, arguably New Zealand’s most celebrated artist; Patricia Piccinini, who famously designed the Skywhale hot air balloon; and Mikala Dwyer who courted controversy for her ritualistic excrement-based performance in 2013.

Do references the work of Soft Core artist Koji Ryui in particular who appears to imbue everyday and often found objects with a distinct sense of life, personality and possibilities. “Many of the sculptures within Soft Core address us directly. This idea of anthropomorphism refers to the uncanny sense that inanimate objects can come to life and physically interact with the viewer,” said Mr Do.

The exhibition also features the work of Tully Arnot, Tully Moore, Michael Parekowhai, Todd Robinson, Koji Ryui, Kathy Temin, Louise Weaver, Simon Yates and Paul Yore.

In the 20th Century, artists began to disassemble the notion of traditional sculpture by adding and subtracting constructions, incorporating found objects and designating everyday items as art. These adaptive and divergent methods of form making continue today in a generation of artists who define sculpture in the negative condition: not bronze, not stone, not the macho force of the blast furnace.

The materials in this exhibition encompass air, inflatable nylon, unfired clay and plastics bags – materials that have been co-opted for their versatility and their mutability between function and emotion. Some of the works require activation – such as electricity or inflation to become whole while others inhabit their softness quietly.

Rebecca Coates, Director of Shepparton Art Museum, sees the fun, provocative and inspiring nature of this exhibition as a good fit for Shepparton audiences. “Shepparton has a strong representation of groups who use and make textiles – from quilting, to weaving, to local Afghani embroiderers,” said Coates.

“There is a connection between this exhibition and SAM’s significant collection of Australian ceramics. Prior to firing, clay is of course a soft material – one that engages through its sheer tactility, and malleable potentiality. That’s in part why there has been an upsurge in the popularity of ceramics. Soft Core builds on the work we have done around contemporary artists engaging with these materials in a contemporary way.”

“The show features work by leading Australian artists who have built a reputation in part based on materiality – Kathy Temin with her fake fur and soft environments; Mikala Dwyer with her pantyhose, oversized plastic sculptures, which are actually made from the material that you use for coke bottles; and Louise Weaver with her crocheted animals, objects and installations that intrigue visitors with whimsy and wonder.”

Soft Core
Shepparton Art Museum, 70 Welsford Street, Shepparton
Exhibition: 27 January – 18 March 2018
Free Admission

For more information, visit: www.sheppartonartmuseum.com.au for details.

Image: Koji Ryui, HAVE A NICE DAY, 2014, unfired clay, polyethylene bag, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.

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