Melbourne Art Fair | Gunter Christmann, Patrick Hartigan, Yasmin Smith, Amanda Williams | MCEC Booth E2, 2022


The Commercial looks forward to exhibiting at Melbourne Art Fair, Booth E2, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 17/02/22 - 20/02/22, with an exhibition of works by Gunter Christmann, Patrick Hartigan, Yasmin Smith and Amanda Williams in response to the Fair's theme of Djeembana/Place.


For Melbourne Art Fair, The Commercial will present a selection of Gunter Christmann’s works from the late 1970s to early 1980s. Rubbish paintings, paintings of rubbish on the street, formed a core of the artist’s interests from this period. For Christmann, rubbish supplied “colours, forms and compositions that seemed to mirror all of man’s art”. These paintings provide a bridge of understanding linking Christmann’s earlier abstract and seemingly-abstract sprankle and dry-box/water tank works, with their elevation of process and their indebtedness to gravity and ground-consciousness, to his more overtly figurative paintings of later years. The rubbish paintings exemplify the artist’s insistence upon economy, working with chance and narrowed limitations.

Gunter Christmann was born in 1936 in Berlin. He arrived in Australia in 1959 and died in Sydney in 2013. During the four-year period over which the artworks in this exhibition were created, Christmann exhibited at the Berlinische Galerie (Berlin), the Australian Embassy (Paris), the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), the inaugural Australian Perspecta at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), and Vision of Disbelief – the Fourth Biennale of Sydney also at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney). His work featured in the landmark exhibition The Field at the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne) in 1968 as well as The Field Revisited at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2018. In 2014, Heide Museum of Modern Art (Melbourne) presented a fifty-year retrospective exhibition of Christmann’s work, Gunter Christmann: Now and Then, curated by Lesley Harding. These works are presented in association with the Estate of Gunter Christmann and Niagara Galleries (Melbourne).


Patrick Hartigan is a painter whose studio practice foregrounds formal material experimentation. His haptic and textural work expresses the world rather than responds to it, with both abstract and figurative outcomes. Hartigan’s open and sensitive engagement with each element and his process of ‘cooking’ paintings, permitting slow layering and development, can give the impression that paintings or parts of paintings have taken shape through events outside the artist’s control and that marks are the remnants or memories of events rather than the events themselves. The current series of paintings are architecturally scaled and were painted unstretched on the ground under the open sky on the rooftop of the artist's Sydney studio. Through collaged elements they extend their interest in shape, colour, texture and sculpture. Value is attributed to every mark, cut, selvedge, and both the fronts and backs of things. Hartigan is also a writer. He has two published books and from 2014 to 2018 was the art critic for The Saturday Paper.
Patrick Hartigan (b. 1977, Sydney) was awarded a Doctor of Creative Arts by the University of Wollongong in 2016 and currently teaches at the National Art School (Sydney). In 2020, he was artist-in-residence at Newington College (Sydney). Hartigan’s work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Western Australia (Perth), the Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (Auckland), Monash University Museum of Art (Melbourne), Murray Art Museum Albury (Albury), the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney), the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra) and Wollongong University Art Collection (Wollongong).


Yasmin Smith’s practice combines scientific and artistic investigation to allow ecological forms of intelligence to be expressed through aesthetic outcomes in sculptural ceramic installation. The artist researches the history of a site where she collects samples of plant materials. Cast ceramic replicas of branches are made before burning the original wood to create ash glazes for the sculptures. The colours and textures that emerge in her wood ash glazes reveal what the tree absorbed in its lifetime and through this the ecological and human history of the collection site—the materials present in the water, soil, and air over time, are retained as a form of memory or archive. Smith sometimes sources clay, labour and other naturally-occurring materials required for certain kiln firing techniques such as salt also on site. Each of Smith’s installations combines archaeological revelation with exceptional sculptural qualities.
Yasmin Smith (b. 1984, Sydney) has exhibited in the 10th Asia Pacific Triennial, the 21st Biennale of Sydney, the 2021 TarraWarra Biennial as well as at Centre Pompidou (Paris), Mao Jihong Arts Foundation (Chengdu), Museo Madre (Naples), Parco Are Vivente (Turin) and the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney). Her work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Artbank, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney), Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane) and Shepparton Art Museum (Shepparton).


Amanda Williams’ Alpine Bogs and Associated Fens is a series of mural-scaled silver gelatin hand prints documenting landscapes of high conservation value. These meditative works convey the extraordinary richness of fragile ecologies and draw attention to how perceptions of place, and the historical content inscribed within the photographic image and its making, is not fixed and is susceptible to change over time and with ideological viewpoints. The very physical and energetic processes involved in the making of these works, their indebtedness to the sensitivities and agencies of light and their fineness of detail, exist in parallel with their subjects’ unfathomable biological complexity, deep geological time and the power of photosynthesis. These images communicate experiences of awe, humility, care and solitude within Nature consistent with their making. Williams works experimentally with the variables of black and white analogue photography, its material underpinnings and historical legacy, demonstrating its contemporary significance. She sometimes favours photographic materials past their shelf-life and works against conventions of exposure and development so that outcomes are opened up to chance, welcoming aberration and making each version of each print highly individuated. Williams acknowledges her presence on unceded Aboriginal lands in her making of these photographs.

In 2021, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia made a major acquisition of Amanda Williams’ Alpine Bogs and Associated Fens series. Williams (b. 1975, Sydney) exhibited in PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens and in Whose Land Is It? at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (UK) also in 2021. Williams was awarded the 2018 National Photography Prize and has twice been shortlisted for the Bowness Photography Prize. In 2022, Williams has taken up a Creative Industries Residency at the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney) giving her access to the museum’s archive and historic camera collection and is commencing a Doctorate degree with Sydney College of the Arts (the University of Sydney). Her portrait series, Or your shadow, rising to meet you, was commissioned in 2020 by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney). Williams has lectured in photography at the National Art School, Sydney College of the Arts and UNSW Art and Design (all Sydney). Her work is in the collections of Murray Art Museum Albury (Albury), the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney) and Wesfarmers (Perth).