undo the day to open at National Art School Gallery

NAS Jodie Whalen Endless blue edge 2022The National Art School has announced undo the day – a new exhibition curated by Gina Mobayed, bringing together work from 10 earlier career and established contemporary artists, exploring the human response to move towards the light when in darkness.

Presented across two floors of the NAS Gallery from 14 June 2024, artists include Karen Black, Nathan Hawkes, Irene Hanenbergh, Ruth Hutchinson, Nabilah Nordin, Mel O’Callaghan, Tom Polo, Ronan Pirozzi, Jodie Whalen and Coen Young.

Working in and around abstraction and figuration, undo the day explores the notion of finding hope, and a way forward in times of doubt and change. “In darkness there is less definition and more uncertainty, there is an instinctual urge to move forward through both vision and feeling,” said Curator Gina Mobayed.

“We rely on light for orientation to mark the distance between what we desire, what we are looking for, and sometimes what we know. A flicker or a spark can be enough to offer hope, even if blurred and ambiguous,” said Mobayed.

The ground floor of the exhibition represents a feeling of darkness, and features minimal, abstract and reflective works that play with techniques of distortion and blur. These include two new large-scale paintings by NAS alumni Coen Young that mirror, warp and disorientate the viewer, using an alchemical process akin to early photography.

A recent work from a new series of glass paintings using rare metals, minerals and pigments by multidisciplinary artist Mel O’Callaghan – the first artist Mobayed ever worked with – will be displayed alongside her video work, To the end, filmed at Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France.

Irene Hanenbergh will present a series of intimately scaled paintings depicting the natural sublime, alongside Ruth Hutchinson’s intricate miniature sculptural works, and recent 2023 NAS graduate Ronan Pirozzi’s dark steel paintings that transform experiences of personal trauma into a poetic visual language that explores a shared human experience.

Moving upstairs to the first floor of the gallery, audiences enter a space filled with works that embrace light, colour and figuration. At one end of the gallery, mirroring the curved architecture on the opposite wall, a large-scale video projection by experimental performance and installation artist Jodie Whalen mimics the light of sunrise and sunset, creating an unearthly liminal space for introspection and reflection.

NAS Tom Polo Soft shield how do I reach you 2022Human figures, bodies and gestures are repeated across the gallery, particularly in the brightly coloured abstract paintings by Karen Black, whose work delves into human relations with a focus on radical care and gentleness, as well as the neon light installation by celebrated artist Tom Polo, continuing his exploration of personal encounters and emotional exchange.

Two large gestural pastel-toned paintings by NAS alumni Nathan Hawkes use drawing as a method of capturing sensations encountered in daily life through experimental mark-making that is full with elation and renewal, and a pair of playful totemic sculptural works by Nabilah Nordin disrupt conceived ideas of material hierarchies and challenge approaches to formalist sculpture by rendering improvised enigmatic forms in bronze.

“NAS is thrilled to present this exhibition of exceptional artists, curated by Gina Mobayed, a visionary arts specialist who emphasises the importance of connection between artists, and audiences within her work, and who we have been looking forward to working with in the Gallery,” said Steven Alderton, CEO, National Art School.

“We are proud to be showcasing the works of NAS alumni Ronan Pirozzi (2023), Coen Young (2009), and Nathan Hawkes (2007), all making great strides within the Australian contemporary art scene, alongside one of our esteemed senior lecturers Karen Black.”

“This exhibition allows us to showcase the work of exceptional contemporary artists at various stages in their careers, to our students and visitors,” said Alderton.

“I have been following many of these artists throughout my career, so for me this exhibition is an important opportunity to bring them into dialogue with one another, as well as invite audiences into a close experience of their works,” said Curator Gina Mobayed.

“I hope the students of National Art School, and all visitors to the gallery will take inspiration from these incredible contemporary artists, and feel moved by an exhibition that considers the ways we listen and connect to one another.”

undo the day
National Art School Gallery, 156 Forbes Street, Darlinghurst
Exhibition: 14 June – 3 August 2024
Free entry

For more information, visit: www.nas.edu.au for details.

Images: Jodie Whalen, Endless blue edge, 2022. HD Video, stereo sound looped, 16:9, 17:31 mins, image still 5. © artwork and image courtesy Jodie Whalen | Tom Polo, Soft shield, how do I reach you, 2022. Neon, installation view. ©Tom Polo, image courtesy STATION