Journey into the lover’s world

Nanjing Night Net

LOVE (and sex) are no strangers to art, but Adrian Lockhart’s exhibition Book marks at Maitland Regional Art Gallery was a reminder of how perpetual these themes remain. Large expressive and sensual line drawings are the main course, abstraction a loose guise that never completely extinguishes the body. More overtly, large faces inhabit much of the gallery with an insistent presence.

However, first impressions can be deceptive, and the entre – or sweet – that invites real time are modestly scaled works drawn from the bittersweet intensity of personal relationships, aka creative inspiration. Small books of poetry illustrated by Lockhart are presented alongside his original drawings, monotypes and woodblocks. These offer an experience similar to that of a reading room, inviting an intimate journey into the lover’s world. But before I represent Lockhart as singular in focus, his drawings in second-hand books, from classic literature to auction house catalogues, suggest an inventive artist with a fine sense of play.

– SPIN is the perfect title for Linda Greedy’s fairground paintings in Maitland’s Art Factory, and the appeal is to all ages as she evokes a feeling of nostalgia and a dizzying sense of dislocation.

Neon lights and whacky characters cavort across the canvas in oily twilight. Greedy has proved herself adept at the nocturne, and her compositional style makes her images, especially the smaller ones, evocative and mysterious. More documentary in style, Simone Sheridan hones in on her subjects in The Bus Shelter Project. The poignant, candid black and white portraits taken at a Hunter Street bus stop to raise awareness of homelessness present a microcosm of the local boho-subculture, most notably her image of the late artist Peter Speight with Ahn Wells, whose new venture, Gallery 139 in Beaumont Street, will be reviewed in coming weeks.

– SUSAN Myerson’s white porcelain vases with coralline edges distil The Bigger Picture at Back to Back galleries, a showcase of seven female artists’ work.

Sharon Taylor is at the top of her game with earthy totemic forms that reach skyward, offsetting the painters’ luminous colour which include Shelagh Lummis’ meditations on trees and Bev Leggett Simmons’ abstracted landscapes.

All of the work expresses a holistic responses to nature and collectively delivers a well balanced exhibition.

– COOKS Hill was abuzz during my visit to Phil Stallard’s latest exhibition, Abstract Impressions. Archetypal symbols – circles, grids and hearts, text and numbers, vie with brilliant colour and strong graphic marks and geometry. Hard-edge and the painterly are thrown together so that composition and colour compete, but what is one viewer’s brash is another’s bravura: these are undeniably bold, confident paintings that shout out loudly rather than sneaking up on you.

– OF a very different nature, but also addressing relationships between colour and form head on, are Madeleine Cruise’s Candy paintings at NANA Contemporary in the Hunter Street Emporium.

Finishing today, her visceral and voluptuous abstractions are rich in suggestions of the body, interior emotions and physical space, but the real action is in the juicy palette and the paint itself: this is eye candy, but it runs deep. In the Workroom, Maggie Hensel’s small sculptures beg to be touched, while photomedia lecturer Deb Mansfield’s electrifying textile landscape begs to be remembered, without fail. More developmental, The Project Space hosts emerging artists such as Kerri Smith whose interest in urban environments inform both paintings and prints.

– FOR her second show at Timeless Textiles, internationally acclaimed artist Nicola Henley’s Shorelines is a welcome encounter with the rich birdlife and coastal heath of Laurieton’s tidal environment, the site of her 2014 artist residency.

Using multiple techniques that include dying, stencilling and silk embroidery, Henley creates opulent frescoes that echo the panoramic Italian tradition of wall painting and the vertical Oriental scroll. A single work from her previous exhibition evokes all the silvery greys of her Irish homeland, illustrating just how well Henley has captured the shimmer of the aquatic landscape and the endless blues, green and gold of the Australian coast.