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  • Fiona Prior

Art Express 2020

Art Express 2020

Art Express is always one of the most refreshing annual exhibitions held at AGNSW. It showcases a selection of outstanding student artworks developed for the art-making component of the HSC examination in Visual Arts and provides an insight into students, their preoccupations and their creativity.

This year’s subject matter highlights the environment, identity, family, tribe … even online dating. Pretty much what you would expect not only from a group of 17-18 year olds but also preoccupations that most of us experience. However, and as always, the quality of the artworks surprise. No matter how many past years I have visited Art Express and how many ‘wows’ I have exclaimed, I am always bowled-over by the talent of each fresh wave of young artist. Our young creatives are increasingly articulate, technically adept and focused.

I will jump immediately to an audio visual work as the sophistication in techniques and the selected topic this work encompasses is an interesting reminder of how different our children’s lives are to our own youth.

Zak Kalivas’ ‘CONTROL + C’ is a young girl’s online dating experience. It is set in a virtual world in a not-too-distant time and place when a DNA sample and subscription to a virtual platform will take the love-seeker to a virtual world where it is possible to meet a perfected version of oneself (complete with ultra-cool wardrobe and cosmetic make-over) According to Zak ‘CONTROL + C‘, takes the traditional Greek myth of Narcissus (and)…uses metaphor to criticise the significance of 'human relationships’ in a world of moral decay.’ Ouch! The narrative, the animation, the digital scenescape all have the sophistication and polish of a high-end video game and a soundtrack that kicks. I love Zac’s ending. The virtual platform heats up and overloads as our young avatar locks lips with her perfected self – a platform meltdown that only the tumultuous passion of a first-love kiss could could provoke! :)

Image: still from ‘CONTROL + C’, courtesy of the artist and Art Express 2020

From this multi-media presentation I will highlight the simplicity of the black and white sketches by Jessica Michael’s ‘Tayta and jido’, portraits of her beloved, aged grandparents. Four old faces are full of the natural signs of time-passing, an abundance of character lines and the telling bone structures of a cultural history. The labour-intensive and loving detail Jessica has brought to these portraits manifests relationship of a very different era to that explored in Kalivas’ future-scape.

Image: excerpt from ‘Tayta and jido’, courtesy of the artist and Art Express 2020

And how exquisite is Lemah Orya’s ‘Mending broken things after the Afghan war’, Lemah uses the Japanese technique of Kintsugi, mending broken things with gold so that the cicatrix/scar of each mended piece becomes a thing of beauty unto itself. To this is added a profusion of wild flora and mushrooms emerging from within the cracks of each broken ceramic. Orya's body of work represents the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Image: selected piece from ‘Mending broken things after the Afghan war’, courtesy of the artist and Art Express 2020

Too many gifted young ones and amazing works on display to mention them all here. I strongly recommend Art Express 2020 as an insight into the preoccupations and talent of an upcoming generation.

Art Express 2020 Art Gallery of NSW

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