Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

Trouble in Paradise

by Ramsay Nuthall

24 Jul 2012

“Beethoven tells you what it's like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it's like to be human. Bach tells you what it's like to be the universe.” ― Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams is indirectly pointing out two things about perspective. Firstly, the range of perspectives is gigantic, from the visceral to the celestial. Secondly, each one has its own gorgeous value. Seems platitudinous, but to see an enormous number of perspectives in one room makes it very involving. “Trouble in Paradise” is the largest exhibition put on at the artist-run space Paradise Hills to date. It is vast by design, and carefully curated. Each piece has been selected for the relationship that it shares with music, and the exhibition as a whole is a thorough exploration of musical experience.

Curator Dean Thompson elaborates: “This particular exhibition focuses on rock music and the underground music scene in Melbourne and Australia. Melbourne, with its many hidden laneways and thriving pub culture, has a rich history in sprouting the careers of some of the many international sensations that have come out of this country.”

The space is disorienting at first: as with many ambitious group shows there is a little confusion as to where you should start. Once you sink your teeth in, it feels like a party full of friends you haven’t met yet. The variety of mediums emphasises the differences between the ideas of each work. There are photographs of classic rock ‘n’ roll figures for the fans, painted records for those focused on the personal experience, intricate wood carvings for the technically minded and paintings that hit the same spot as the best songs themselves.

Musician and woodblock artist Alex Gillies has taken the body of a Fender Telecaster, carved a beautifully balanced and marvellously flamboyant Day of the Dead theme in relief, and then used the guitar as a woodblock to create its mirror image (a print entitled Giant Sounds). Displayed in tandem, the guitar and print has all of the technical expertise and exquisite results of a great, sweaty live show.

A wall of painted records and covers by Giles Ryder and Jeremy Kibel is a flashback to the intimacy and importance of discovering music that moves you through a tangible physical object. Blocking the round shape of the record in comfortable colours onto the front of the album sleeve is also an act of projection, plastering their personality on to the records, a beautiful invitation to everyone who puts and sees themselves in the music they love.

Two painters at the exhibition come closest to transferring the direct impact of the music by which they were inspired. John Aslanidis takes the form of the sound wave for his series Sonic Network, and echoes it in colours to jar and addict. The effect is synaesthetic, with the conflicting colours fighting one another in as tense a harmony as possible until the painting seems to hum.

Natalie Mather paints a grand and finessed orchestral score being pushed through a window. The blasting colours and uncomfortable angles of split quick machine gleam keeps the eyes moving, giving a sense of the ground shuddering beneath you as everything shatters. There are melodies punching through the discord, resolving like a car coming over a steep hill.

The full list of contributing artists includes Archibald Prize-nominee E.L.K and photographer Søren Solkær Starbird of Denmark.

“Trouble in Paradise” 6 – 28th July

Wednesday to Friday 3-7pm, Saturday 12-6pm

Paradise Hills, 1-9 Doonside St, Richmond VIC 3121