PlayBox : An Installation of Disparate Works with Jan Fieldsend 2014

This project arose to some extent in an impromptu fashion. This in effect characterises the nature of the work, and hence the title, Playbox. Both artists are drawn to the emotional content conveyed by the elements used in their assemblages of forms, objects and textures; and almost all works take the form of imaginary bodies with memories.

In the act of attempting to put two distinct practices into one space, conversations arose not only about formal and spatial concerns but also about poly-culturalism and the ensuing flux that is within each individual, and of course in the wider world. Negotiation of space/place and the making of sense require a great deal of imagination and an ability to accept really odd things being together. Odd, not in a pejorative sense but perhaps more evoking a gentle poignancy of things not being even, of unsettledness or even as an antidote to standardisation. In this respect it may be apt to observe that Nheu is more interested in eroded painted forms and how they inhabit the space assigned to them, and Fieldsend in the productive alliances of decoration, minimalism, hard-core nostalgia and nature.

In this collaborative project with Fieldsend, Nheu was drawn to the thoughts of Mono-ha, a school of art in Japan active between 1968 and 1973, as a way to relate and understand Fieldsend’s installations. Loosely translated as ‘school of things’, Mono-ha art is experienced as multi-sensorial. It uses ordinary objects such as rocks, steel, sticks and cotton with as little human intervention as possible, and often is ephemeral in nature. The focus is on ‘the things’ themselves and their interdependence through juxtaposition and placement. The elements are stripped of their obvious identity and then, through the working process, particular sensory qualities are amplified.Nheu has attempted to draw on these ideas to create abstract tactile forms made with painted plywood and molded acrylic paint. In some instances these materials are used as themselves with their intrinsic characteristics laid bare, but often as much stand in as rich shadowy bodies, or perversely, doubling as cavities.

Fieldsend had been for many years interested in ikebana – the careful, almost devotional (and sometimes minimalist) practice of arranging botanical elements. It is not so much that these ideas inspired the work but that the work already made, found the ideas more satisfactory than existing western theories. To take one of Fieldsend’s works - Disassembled Monument for a Slow-Motion Dancer - the work itself is constructed, choreographed, arranged – balancing the qualities of beauty and grotesquery – from a stockpile of diverse pieces made or collected over many years. Each component has its own genealogy both literal and as a holder of wider associations – the sandalwood fan made in China, the discarded roll of out-moded photographic acetate, fragile and feathery crepe-paper collages and a pencil-drawing backdrop of a lichen, growing at a Botany Bay coastal heathland. The repetitive act of placement and displacement within her work and also in relation to Nheu’s, attempts to achieve a ‘rightness’ of composition – a mixture of accidental perfections. Or are they perfect accidents?

© 2014 Janice Fieldsend and Anie Nheu. Images by Lyrebird Photography

Acrylic, Plywood, Sand paper Acrylic on clay with wire mesh Oil on Plywood Acrylic on Marine Ply Acrylic on Marine Ply Acrylic wood, clay and terrazzo Acrylic on wood Oil on Marine Ply crêpe-paper, papers, clay, wood hardwood lodged in conte on pine PlayBox installation view