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A List of Old Truths

Events > Exhibitions

Cam Munroe and Fran Dibble
at Zimmerman Art Gallery
1 Oct 2012 - 29 Nov 2012

Added by Zimmerman

This month and next, ZIMMERMAN is featuring an exhibition of collaborative and individual works by Cam Munroe and Fran Dibble.

Two painters bringing two perspectives, points of view, backgrounds and lives – two methods of expression. This exhibition is a mix of the work of Cam Munroe and Fran Dibble, myself the latter who has written these notes to support the art on display.

There are some stylistic similarities, hence reason to gather this collection. Most obvious is the use of grids; arranging elements in neat rows and columns, Munroe’s looking like they are composed on the canvas, my own with a loose mixing of individual sheets that finally get fixed into a chosen arrangement.

This stop-start method of piecemeal composition is not so unusual, one wonders if it is a reaction to contemporary life, with its continual moving of attention from one thing to the next, information gathered as a collection of images rather than a one scene narration. This gathering has a sense of pseudo-scientific appraisal as if demonstrating studying, collecting and sorting, like trying to find some conclusion or work out a theory to explain some concept, something about life, or aesthetics or a new way to see.

The other obvious link in these two art views is an absence of person. Not only is the artist themselves only obliquely visible (perhaps coded in the symbols selected) but no other human makes it into the frame. This arm’s reach approach is an interesting development from the more gushing and personal approach that was especially prevalent ten or twenty years ago. For although objective, it is not at all cold, both painters using expression in the enactment – brushwork, scratched lines, mottled colour – using their own hands and gestures to betray a sense of self.

Munroe has a greater involvement with people, not only does the odd word or numeral get placed within the composition but many of the symbols seem to be structures where man has been involved. Some seem to be “wrappings”, bandaged forms such as an Egyptologist might uncover in a forgotten crypt while others seem like they could be doodles of structures; tunnels or wormholes (perhaps giant astrological ones?), divining rods as if for use to detect a miraculous water spring, bottles and vessels. They are diagrams recorded, noted and itemised, the subdued palette reinforcing this as being the world of man, the whites of walls and note paper.

The Dibble paintings look more to nature than to man. Shoots grow, flowers bloom, blood flows, mushrooms sprout, seeds fall from the sky and goldfish make their monotonous swimming circles – small microcosms that are their own small worlds within the world mostly unnoticed. Dots float, these equally suggest either small particles in their random diffusion movements or large planets in space. This quantum / micro confusion (a play both artists use) is a great method of disorientating the viewer. The choice of the small or large, an ambiguity relished, enables a shuffling of reality.

A multi-component working method is about dialogue and contrast. It is under-pinned by a formalist aesthetic, a system of working with juxtaposition where contrast and similarity can be utilised - linear and fragmented illustrations can be placed next to bold black shapes, or painterly splashes next to plainer squares, or a textured colour surface against a flat black - playing off opposites. Or there can be a repetition of the similar – rounded objects in a collection, the line-up of icons, the lines of a branch repeated in a straight masked spray-painted line, or a circular form echoed in parts throughout a painting.

Whether it is earnest or light-weight is another enjoyed confusion. Munroe’s catch phrases used as titles (like By the Time You Read This, as if to taunt you to decode the vagaries of form in some note of secret discovery, Memory Test with an impossible selection of cue cards and Before the Ice as if to suggest fossilised relics), where we are uncertain whether they aren’t instinctive, throw away lines instead of serious subjects referenced to give a suggestion of what some of the symbols could mean.Likewise we might question when a painter chooses a common object like a leaf or an urchin shell, whether it is a celebration of the ordinary or a more complex statement about nature and the world?

The mix of the two painters’ works has its own sense of contrast too. There is a yin-yang in the Dibble–Munroe assembly where both counter the other. My paintings almost look, when hung beside those of Munroe, as if they seek to fill in her forms, plump them out and give them colour. And all the while Munroe is trying to make mine more ephemeral, to dream and plan. So as we tie and untie each other’s efforts there exists an amalgamation which doesn’t compromise but manages to balance.

collating_land_and_sea before_the_ice

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