alex lawler

Selected Works

Faith & Lust: Various Approaches to Formalist Abstraction
Flinders Street Gallery, Sydney, 2009
Curated by Alex Lawler


Faith and Lust: Various Approaches to Formalist Abstraction takes as a departure point Bruce Nauman's Vices and Virtues of 1988, which features 'Faith and Lust' in neon light, wrapped around a major building at the University of California in San Diego. The exhibition will explore the psychological implications of various modes of production in formalist art.

The exhibition brings together artists from the early years of Australian hard-edged abstraction (Sydney Ball & Tony McGillick) with contemporary artists from Europe (Frank Altmann, Christoph Bruckner & Guido Münch) as well as mid career and emerging artists from Australia who are influenced by and engaged with the legacy of formalist abstraction.

The inclusion of the works in this exhibition is an invitation for the viewer to consider the conceptual spaces of these works, areas in which the artist's mind might have left traces of conception and production. In doing so, these spaces might be reactivated: setting in motion dialogues of concept and affect. This dialogue, initiated by the viewer's gaze, might trade the possibilities of affective and sensual impulses from an artist's conceptual strategy against the towers of ideology that often loom behind and beside formalism's material and physical gestures.

This exhibition also invites the viewer to consider passages of thought that are transformed into form. For example how one might come to develop a visual language that translates occurrences of the mind into formal manifestations.
Within a framework which regards characteristics of various artistic practices as being alike, those decisions which are made about what is and what is not produced and how this occurs, depend on an internal rhythm which relates an artist to their work. This rhythm can be thought of as an ongoing connection between thought processes and aspects of artistic practice. This exhibition explores how these rhythms take form. A further question emerging from this line of enquiry asks how much is at stake for the artist within various aspects of practice: how much is at stake in those aspects which refer to actual occurrences in the world or are abstract or physical manifestations that resonate with the artist in relation to social, libidinal, philosophic or political issues.

This exhibition also addresses difference over similarity. That is to say that although genealogical and conceptual lineages are apparent in this collection of works, they are not grouped together to demonstrate a single narrative from one piece to another but rather it is of more interest that these works function to instigate many narratives from each work to the next.
Alex Lawler - Curator