a Flower Blossoms
for it's Own Pleasure
Victoria Bilogan, Danny Tasmakis, Matthew Schiavello
& (Olly) Tran Minh Khoa
Four Melbourne-based artists spontaneously looked to flowers, as a way of seeing through the lockdowns. They approached the subject in various ways to make work that is universal.
For some of these artists it was the whole process of creating the work from nothing, for others it was seeing work that already existed, and how to print and present their interpretations.
Works by Victoria Bilogan, Matthew Schiavello, (Olly) Tran Minh Khoa and Danny Tasmakis that engage with the beauty and history of the flower as an art subject.
Visit the website for detailed directions to the venue, as it is a little complicated.
A Flower Blossoms
An Essay by Dr Lisa Anderson
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.-
John Muir. American writer and naturalist considered ‘the father of national parks.
A Flower Blossoms is of our time and reflects some of the elements of historic Memento Mori paintings representing many things to many cultures, life and death or love and loss they can offer a moment of reprieve. The slow sexualised flower forms of Robert Mapplethorpe and Georgia O’Keefe always sit silently behind. This show engages our human longing alongside our emotional responses to the still life of flowers as subject to create fragility, beauty, mortality and sexuality. The works of Matthew Schiavello touch closely on memento mori through the evident decay and wilful destruction of the surfaces. The artist looms from the corrupted surface to hold the vase of flowers in a visual neutrality of expression that belies the core experience of human existence. The beauty of these flowers offered up as sacrifice to time literally biting at the edges of the image. The artist as model makes no eye contact with viewer or with any object. No line of sight proffers a blindness to the world, a wall against our interpretations. The light against dark effects of Danny Tasmakis create a floating cut vertically splaying the page in two as one’s eyes travel back and forth between the light and dark suggesting a soft battle for space between the central flower form and the darkness enveloping them. The petals reflect the light outward towards us and stab into and around the flower forms, a dance of hard and soft. Tran Minh Koa’s almost over-burdened amazingness of the left over things, lone shoes, crystal balls that hold no future, stray vases and dead and dying flowers, spices and petals strewn across the surface. All these things and more fight for our attention. But within this glorious mix of life and death a memory takes hold of a past. The abandoned wedding ring, the glasses laid down with a notebook open, loose change from different countries, flowers that have meanings of life and death. Like a vanitas this selection of images offers clues to a puzzle. A narrative that allows the viewer to imagine the story, is it a home lost, a new love, a hidden past created over a shared drink of tea or the singular drip of coffee. Victoria Bilogan has offered up the simple object and the flower traditionally composed as the domestic form. It becomes something illusive to hold as the glass distorts and reflects as it holds the cut flowers in a gentle grip and sometimes the flowers are stuffed in too full, the juxtaposition of pearls sitting by all reflect a lost and longing sexuality expressed as something hidden behind curtains. Hidden by the anxiety of contact in lockdown. The curtain and vignette framing holds us back but paradoxically asks us to be voyeurs into the intimate worlds behind our curtains of quarantine. These images explore with ideas of the intimate experience of lockdown. The detail a shared experience of fear of contagion, fear of other people, our aloneness and our mortality. These images show a beauty in the loneliness by telling stories of otherness, of domestic and intimate detail. We were allowed to walk for limited time in limited areas. What we saw was the gardens, the flowers and weeds of the streets, and our own homes...our domestic life in detail. These flower linked images show us an abstract concept of the beauty of our moments in a time where the world was too fragile to touch.
A Brief Biography
Engaged in printmaking, book arts and interdisciplinary projects Bilogan is focused on exploration of Human condition through the psychological portrait among other themes dealing with existential crisis we face. Born in Odessa, Victoria graduated with a double degree in arts and music and after migrating to Australia, continued studies in Printmaking and Piano performance at the Victorian College of Arts, The University of Melbourne on postgraduate scholarship. A recipient of multiple international awards and grants, namely Peebles Print Prize People’s Choice Award (2021); 2nd Intaglio Triennial Silver Corba Award 2021 (Ukraine); the World Heritage Triennial Award 2020 (Russia), 1st intaglio Triennial 2022 Odessa Ukraine, Guanlan Printmaking Biennale, shortlisted China (2017).
A participant of over 200 international exhibitions, art events and residencies across the globe, with solo shows presented in Australia, Ukraine and Italy. Her works are part of major public and private collections worldwide. Represented by Heike Arndt Gallery, Berlin/Denmark.
My work explores the process of capturing and observing the singularity of form in a state of transformation through filtered illumination. My process includes the use of traditional techniques in a contemporary way, working with the reflection of an image and hand made dry plates using custom made photographic apparatus by master Haruhisa Terasaki.
I investigate the psychology of light and passage of time seeking to restore lost connections in the company of unanimated objects. It becomes a self- reflection on memory, history, rite of time, narrative emotional states, liminality, it has made possible to communicate what cannot be otherwise communicated. I am interested in the unlimited possibilities that coexist in the mystery of form and shadow under the flux of the daylight cycle, especially around states of twilight. The interplay of dark and light in this way draws up primordial qualities.
A singular object: a pearl a shell or a flower takes on a new symbolism: a perfection, divinity wholeness and the shadow or subconscious. I am interested in working with these symbolic archetypes in the contemporary context. The reflective qualities of the pearl and shell allow unique and multiple interplays with light, transforming the object into something else, and suspending them in this liminal space.
A Brief Biography
Matthew Schiavello (b.1972) is a Melbourne/Naarm born photographer and visual artist. He works in various styles, from abstract, to the more representational, and self-portrait work. Matthew often works from a place of engaged curiosity. Exploring the boundaries of traditional photography by destroying 35mm film he has shot on, treating and soaking physical prints he has made, or by intentionally interrupting and manipulating 35mm film during the scanning process. Matthew has been shortlisted for several art prizes, and his works are held in private collections across Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States.
Matthew's images often begin with intentionally effected analogue film, or Polaroid prints. As someone who often looks for beauty in damaged, forgotten, or abhorred spaces, he is drawn to seeing worth and beauty in what can be considered valueless. His experimental process arises from that tradition, but with the difference that he is an active part of the transformation process. In combining his technical skills/knowledge with processes that hold an element of chance and are uncontrollable, He looks for the unique moments of beauty that are born and cannot be reproduced. His presented images are a selection of 35mm transformed film and transformed Polaroid prints In the series 'Composition', Matthew continues his playfully exploration of the traditional 'still life', with the artist stepping into view and facilitating each scene. Whether used to hold an object/s in place, or posed in a manner to create balance in the scene, the artist paradoxically seems secondary to the work, yet at the same time is integral to it.
A Brief Biography
Melbourne based photographer, Danny Tasmakis, is passionate about photography since the late 70’s, when he was introduced to the process of analogue photography from image capture to print. Throughout the years, he has slowly been refining his craft and vision to a point where his Engineering career by day has influenced the precision and methodology in his photographs. Danny continues to use purely analogue methods to produce his work.
Danny’s diverse subject matter and skill to isolate beauty and interest from everyday subjects are enhanced using hand printed silver gelatin fibre based papers that produce another level of depth to his work.
This body of work isolates the beauty of nature as a singularity without distraction of everyday life. The subjects are all within 100 meters of my home in the suburbs of Melbourne and easily missed or taken for granted. If we stop and take notice, there is beauty in everything around us.
(Olly) Tran Minh Khoa
A Brief Biography
Olly is a photographer born in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. Minh Khoa Tran (Olly) is a silent and calming photographer who is now living in Melbourne, Australia since 2022.
He is enthusiastic to find his unique style of photography and use Still Life topics as his base photography. He aims to open a small gallery of his own displaying only his artworks and always enthusiastically explaining to everybody who comes to see his works.
After Covid pandemic, He realize that Still Life Photography is suitable for his personality and art style. He is seeking calmness and peace in his art inside the chaos. He loves to catch people’s attention at first sight and then make them gaze into details. In his Vietnamese culture (or education), he was influenced by lots of paintings/artworks that are rich in colors and lots of details and they are complicated and beautiful. Therefore, he believes the more time he spends on making his art the greater results he will get.
The projects are based on Vanitas drawing style and Memento Mori phase “Remember you will be dead someday”, recreating fantasy worlds to escape from cruel reality. Life and Death, it is a nature circle, it is hurtful to hear our beloved one dies but the best way is to accept and remember them. In Vietnamese culture, there is an altar in every family with flowers, fruit and incense that are well organized to remember their lost members. Adapted from that, Beautiful Chaos is recreating the altar in the form of Still Life and art arrangement blending with stories behind.
The series is to reminisce about my father who passed away from liver cancer. Using flowers to exploit the meanings and memento items to relate to a person, which represent peace, affinity, and memories respectively. All the subjects are placed randomly and chaotic, but they are intended to be a beautiful mess. Each detail plays an important meaning to the whole picture, and they are harmonized and balanced. Also, the series represents my feelings, towards the lifestyle, experience differences in cultures, perceptions, which all happens in my imagination worlds as an international student from Vietnam living in Melbourne.