One of Australia’s most significant and influential artists, Pat Brassington, returns to ARC ONE with Nonetheless, a new body of work that provokes, delights, and disturbs the senses.
Since the mid-1980s Pat Brassington has worked predominantly in photo-media within a disrupted surrealist aesthetic. Informed by feminism, psychoanalysis and contemporary critical theory, she has developed a unique oeuvre of enigmatic and visually intriguing photomontages constructed from seamlessly joined found and taken images. Suffused with suggestions of fear, repulsion, desire, sex, and memory, but with few clues to decode their narrative contexts, these images exist in an ambiguous space that triggers unexpected associations.
In Nonetheless, images and motifs familiar from previous series evolve and shift, becoming bearers of new meanings and insinuations. Bodies are fragmented, distorted and foreshortened, female lingerie is submerged and sodden, flowers are erotic, reds and fleshy tones pulsate, feet are hyper-pointed and elongated, and shoes are fetishised. Digitally manipulated, evocatively juxtaposed, and placed within claustrophobic, eerily lit interiors, these innocent forms and bodily fragments are rendered abject and sublime, unsettling and seductive through their superbly loaded connotations.
These works are provocatively ambiguous. Drawing influence from the Surrealists, notions of the uncanny, and Walter Benjamin’s ‘optical unconscious’, as well as literary references such as Alice in Wonderland, Brassington employs photomontage to reveal the incredible power of the mind to transform mundane objects and situations into sites/sights of horror, menace, sensuality, and desire.
As Brassington explains: When morphing an image I baulk prior to resolution and prefer to leave it hovering in uncertainty. Our visual brain endlessly seeks resolution and hence the real exerts a magnetic attraction. My aim is to use this gravitas to spin off towards other possibilities.
With a career spanning more than three decades, Pat Brassington is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists. This year, Brassington won the prestigious Australia Council Award for Visual Arts. In 2017, she was awarded the inaugural Don Macfarlane Prize. In 2013, she won the Monash Gallery of Art Bowness Photography Prize. In 2012, she was honoured with a major nationally touring survey of her work, A Rebours, by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). Brassington’s work has also featured extensively in major exhibitions, including The Shape of Things to Come at Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne (2018); Today Tomorrow Yesterday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2017); Lurid Beauty: Australian Surrealism and its Echoes, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2015); Adelaide Biennial Parallel Collisions (2012); Feminism Never Happened at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010); the Biennale of Sydney (2004); World Without End - Photography and the 20th Century at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2000); and Fotokunst Aus Australien, Berlin (2000), curated by Bernice Murphy.
Selected recent solo exhibitions include Pat Brassington at Ten Cubed, Melbourne (2018); The Body Electric, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2017); Just So, ARC ONE Gallery, Melbourne (2016); In search of the marvellous at CAST Gallery, Hobart (2013); a survey exhibition at the Lönnstrom Art Museum, Finland (2008); Pat Brassington at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2007); a major solo retrospective at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (2002) and Gentle at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2001).
Pat Brassington’s work is held in many public collections including the Art Gallery of NSW; Queensland Art Gallery; National Gallery of Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria; Art Gallery of Western Australia; Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart; Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne; ArtBank, Sydney; Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne; Cologne Museum of Contemporary Art, Germany; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; Geelong Art Gallery; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; City of Yarra Collection; University of Technology, Sydney; Banyule City Council; Horsham Gallery of Art; Murdoch University, WA; Devonport Art Gallery, Tasmania; Burnie Regional Gallery, Tasmania; Fremantle Arts Centre, WA; University of the Northern Territory, Darwin; La Trobe University Art Collection, Melbourne; Collection of Legal Aid Victoria.
Pat Brassington lives and works in Hobart, Tasmania.