Opening Wednesday 5.30pm September 24 at Sanderson Herne Bay, 122 Jervois Rd (cnr of Clarence St) until 18 October.
Primarily self-taught, Brendan McGorry engages with references and allegories drawn from historical European paintings, which he intertwines with his own personal genealogy to reflect upon biological and social evolution. While earlier works have often been informed by the Italian masters of the Renaissance, The Belle Époque Project visits an alternative point in art history: the flourishing Parisian art of the Impressionist movement.
In this ambitious exhibition McGorry fuses the works of painters like Calliboutte, Manet, Renoir and van Gogh with musings on his own recent time in Paris, where he stayed in the renowned Haussmann apartments. Weaving familiar historical motifs with contemporary images of everyday life, the past and present collide in dreamlike compositions across his canvases.
Like his previous installations Holy of Holies (2012) and God’s Little Laundrette (2011), the foundation of The Belle Époque Project is a vast mural, which McGorry has inscribed directly on the gallery walls. With illustrative elements plucked from art history, the gallery becomes a 19th century French interior with views outwards over the streets of Paris. This depicted space accommodates McGorry’s paintings, which either act as objects within the mural’s overall composition or – with the larger pieces – become paintings within painting; canvases adorning the interior’s ‘walls.’
In these meta-paintings iconic Impressionist works have been recreated by the artist; mimicking the compositions but reworking each in his distinctive drawing-based style, with forms defined by charcoal outlines and flat, vivid colour. The artist also introduces incongruous contemporary elements that firmly anchor the works in the present, while irrefutably indicating the past; the viewer is simultaneously aware of McGorry’s version and the original works he references.
“Frances at the Folie Bergere” After Manet 2014, acrylic and charcoal on canvas 1200x1500mm Private Collection
“This is not a Rainy day in Paris” After Caillebotte 2014, acrylic and charcoal on canvas 1200x1500mm Private Collection
“Another day Another galette” After Renoir acrylic and charcoal on canvas 1150x1400mm Private Collection
“This is not a Starry Night” After Van Gogh acrylic and charcoal on canvas 1200x1500mm Private Collection