Blue Mountains News

Spring Exhibition Suite at Penrith Regional Gallery

Source: Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest
Archived 14 Oct 2018 - Posted: 17 Aug 2018
Justene Williams, The Joy of Life After Matisse/Madonna/Marcel (video still), 2014. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery.
The Curtain Breathed Deeply - an expansive new commission by Sydney based artist Justene Williams – will open at Penrith Regional Gallery on Saturday 25 August. The exhibition will transform the entirety of Penrith Regional Gallery’s Main Gallery space into an intentionally chaotic, immersive and interrelated sequence of installations. Her largest and most ambitious undertaking to date, The Curtain Breathed Deeply will seduce visitors into and through a series of hypnotising sets and video installations abounding in sensory overload and cacophony.

In The Curtain Breathed Deeply Williams melds references from art history — painting greats such as Picasso, Leger and Kahlo — with a range of everyday pop cultural influences including hip hop music, Milli Vanilli and A Chorus Line. In her series of choreographed performative videos, the artist draws on the rituals of Shamanism and Modernist Primitivism. Williams amasses together a collection of visual and aural curiosities through a wealth of patterns, colours, textures and tonalities, many of which draw from the artist’s own childhood. Calling upon memories of her father’s wrecking yard, her childhood training in dance, and her experiences constructing elaborate retail window displays, Williams uses found objects and waste materials to create dazzling theatrical environments.

Justene Williams elaborates: ‘I sometimes talk about my work or my way of working as a subtle knowledge or an emotional intelligence. I work from the heart and I’m interested in communicating visually — seeing, reading and hearing through colour and movement.’

On a more personal and somber note, the curtain and the exhibition pay tribute to her late father — to his life and work, as well as the hospital curtain that marked the final stage of his life when he passed away from lung cancer. The exhibition is at once poignant and celebratory, acknowledging the life of a loved one whilst also taking pleasure in the movement of living, breathing beings.

Also on exhibition is From the Head and the Heart by senior Australian artist Leonora Howlett, who explores the principles of colour, line and pattern in a career spanning five decades. As an artist, Leonora has continually explored abstract painting as a form of visual communication. Most recently, Leonora’s work includes a fusion of soft-edged geometric shapes with a more organic, painterly response utilising the medium of watercolour on paper.

Blue Mountains artist Samuel Quinteros will also be showing his works; a series of paintings inspired by dreaming while you’re awake. The central impulse behind the paintings is the ecstatic, fresh feeling of being alive, through an exploration of painting inspired by natural forms.

About the Artist

Justene Williams lives and works in Sydney. She is known for her lavish, sensorial work that combines live performance with multifaceted, handmade sets, sculptural elements and video installation.

She has exhibited widely throughout Australia and internationally including most recently at the 20th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, 2016.

Selected solo exhibitions include: Eternal circling of a present whole, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide, 2016; No Mind, Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney, 2015; Handbag Hammer Meditation, La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, Montréal, 2013; She came over signing like a drainpipe shaking spoon infused mixers, a public work for Christchurch Art Gallery, 2013; Turnstile Heaped on Pour Down, St Paul St Gallery, AUT Auckland University, 2012; and BIGHEAD GARBAGEFACE GUARDS GHOST DERR SONATA, Contemporary Project Space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2009.

Selected group exhibitions include: Performa 15, New York, 2015; Playtime, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2013; We used to talk about love, Balnaves Contemporary: Photomedia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2013; Contemporary Australia: Women, Gallery of Modern Art | Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2012; New11, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2011; Short Sharp Shocks, Barbican, London, 2011; and Adelaide Biennial, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2010.

Her work is held in numerous collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She is represented by Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.

About the Tour

The Curtain Breathed Deeply will tour nationally visiting metropolitan and regional centres in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland from 2016 to 2018, including Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, Griffith Regional Gallery, Ipswich Art Gallery, Tamworth Regional Gallery, and Lismore Regional Gallery.

A major new monograph accompanies the exhibition and tour, featuring essays by dance theorist and University of New South Wales Senior Lecturer Dr Erin Brannigan, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Curator Anne Loxley, Sydney-based arts writer Pamela Hansford and renowned playwright Lally Katz, with additional contributions from Charlotte Day, Francis E. Parker, Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, Caraline Douglas and Mark Feary.

The Curtain Breathed Deeply was curated and developed by Artspace and is touring nationally in partnership with Museums & Galleries of NSW.

The generous bequest of the Catalyst: Katherine Hannay Visual Arts Commission has enabled Artspace to support Justene Williams in the development of this major new work at a pivotal moment in her career. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Justene Williams: The Curtain Breathed Deeply

Exhibition Dates:
25 August – 11 November 2018

3pm-5pm Saturday 25 August 2018

Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, 86 River Rd, Emu Plains.

Justene Williams, Yves Klein Eyes (video still), 2014. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery.
Justene Williams, Costume relic painting, 2014, plastic tablecloths, various tapes. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery.
Justene Williams, Assisted performance sculpture, 2014, paint, wood, tape, plastic, cardboard, various materials. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery.
Justene Williams, The Curtain Breathed Deeply, installation view Artspace, Sydney, 2014. Photo: Zan Wimberley
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