April 03, 2014

Julian Meagher "The Sky Still Breaks" exhibition at Merry Karnowsky

Julian Meagher
The Sky Still Breaks

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 5th, 2014 8-11pm
RSVP essential to rsvp@mkgallery.com
Exhibition Dates: April 5 - May 3, 2014

Julian Meagher’s most recent collection of paintings emerged from a chance encounter with a scuba diver hunting for discarded longnecks that litter the seabeds of Sydney Harbour. Ghostly glass artefacts of past foreshore carousing, these salvaged vessels prompted the artist to explore the binary nature of modern masculinity through the tinted glass of inherited history. It is fitting then that the exhibition borrows its title, ‘The Sky Still Breaks’, from barfly Charles Bukowski, whose poetry interlaces flashes of featherlike sensitivity with machismo grit.

In their pared-down instinctive simplicity, Meagher's still lifes recall the emotive purity of Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), whose work was described by fellow artist Giorgio di Chirico as the “metaphysics of everyday objects.” Meticulously built up through transparent layers of oil and then scrubbed back in order to achieve a muted luminosity, Meagher’s paintings are rendered flatly in a diffuse colour scheme of worn glass tones. Both tangible and ethereal, they subtly subvert still life conventions through the coalescence of the material and immaterial.

This thematic of balance is also reflected in the artist's series of accompanying portraits, which juxtapose the masculine and feminine. Literally cloaked in the mantle of history, his subjects sport archaic dress shirts that enshroud their archetypal male virility in effeminate, almost vaginal, ruffles and frills. Historically, such garments were not worn in public without a vest or jacket, situating Meagher’s sitters in a figurative state of undress, particularly evident in his own self-portrait, Too Close To The Sun, in which he flaunts a shirt haphazardly unbuttoned. Alternatively read as undone or at ease, these intimate figure studies imbue the artist’s introspective analysis of contemporary masculinity with a concrete humanity that superimposes individual and collective inherited histories.

- Molly Duggins

Merry Karnowsky
170 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
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