Curated by MCA Senior Curator Natasha Bullock, the exhibition draws on Gerber’s diverse and contrasting practice to showcase his influence on contemporary painting. From photorealism to fluid abstraction, portraits and still lifes, his interests remain wide-ranging and his approach incessantly experimental. The Rorschach motif, in particular, reappears in his paintings in varying colours, sizes and styles that morph into different physical forms, from the canvas to the wall.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, says: 'The MCA is delighted to be presenting the work of Matthys Gerber. His bold, colourful and surprising paintings always challenge and excite, and his exhibition comes at a time when painting is again experiencing a moment of critical self-reflection.’
Largely self-taught, from the beginning of his career Gerber sought to understand the languages and histories of painting. He came to prominence in Australia during the late 1980s when painting was experiencing an international renaissance. In his work, he has sought to revitalise most painting genres – including portraiture, landscape, still life, text-work and abstraction – and within each he has mobilised various techniques, from fine realistic details to the impasto effects of gestural abstraction. At the centre of his process of reinvention, ideas transform into paint to wrestle with the fusion of two perceived sides of painting – the figurative and the abstract.
To articulate this tension, the exhibition space has been architecturally designed with walls that reference a Rorschach ink blot in geometric form. The mirroring and doubling effects created by the walls translate a central motif in Gerber’s practice into three dimensional forms. The walls also enable conversations between works from different periods and in various styles to demonstrate the changing experiences and sexual energies of Gerber’s paintings.
The exhibition includes two works from the MCA Collection: a painting by the renowned Pupunya Tula artist George Tjungurrayi and another by the pioneering conceptual artist Tim Johnson, when he collaborated with Tommy Stevens Tjakamarra. Also included are an original photograph of an Yves Klein performance and an original print by Georges Mathieu, both from the artist’s personal collection. These works demonstrate some of the many sources informing Gerber’s own practice: from Tjungurrayi’s shimmering line work and Johnson’s collaborative processes to the all-over explosive technique of Mathieu and finally to the expression of painting as bodily in Klein’s performance.
MCA Senior Curator Natasha Bullock concludes: 'An adventurous genre-hopper, Matthys Gerber’s works entwine, repeat, mirror, hide and transform their sources.’
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Level 1 Galleries
22 September – 6 December 2015 (FREE entry)
For high and low resolution images with captions please contact us.
Myriam Conrié / Claire Johnson
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
+61 (0)2 9245 2434 / +61 (0)2 9245 2417
ABOUT MATTHYS GERBER
Matthys Gerber was born in 1956 in Delft, The Netherlands and migrated to Australia in 1971. He has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally, including an early survey exhibition at the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide in 1998. Gerber is presently Senior Lecturer of Painting at the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. He lives and works in Sydney.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue designed by Fabio Ongarato Design, Melbourne, featuring contributions by MCA Senior Curator Natasha Bullock, David Pestorius, Shaun Gladwell, Sue Cramer, Blair French, Mitchell Cumming, Manya Sellers and Romy Hansford-Gerber.
The MCA is producing a range of events and programs which explore the notion of painting and the exhibition in more detail, all of which are free.
Free Daily Guided Tours
Tour the exhibition with our volunteer guides. Check the MCA website for exact timings. (FREE, drop-in)
Lights on Later
Every Thursday night throughout the exhibition, the MCA Galleries, Café and Store stay open late until 9pm. Enjoy exhibitions alongside hands-on workshops and wind down over a glass of wine, a bite to eat and music from Sydney DJs on the MCA Sculpture Terrace.
Conversation with the artist: Matthys Gerber
A great opportunity to hear the artist discuss his work and practice with MCA Senior Curator Natasha Bullock.
Thursday 1 October, 6.30–7.30pm (FREE, drop-in)
Artists on Artists
See Matthys Gerber’s exhibition through the eyes of an artist and gain insight into his legacy on the Australian art scene.
Thursdays 15 & 22 October, 19 November, 6–6.30pm (FREE, drop-in)
Beginning as a method of psychological evaluation, the Rorschach inkblot test has greatly influenced popular culture, including Matthys Gerber. This playful artistic workshop uses the ‘inkblot test’ as a starting point for you to create some unexpected art.
Thursdays in October, 5.30–6.30pm (FREE, drop-in)
Curators’ Insights: Manya Sellers on Matthys Gerber
Hear MCA Assistant Curator Manya Sellers talk about Matthys Gerber and the exhibition.
Thursday 12 November, 6.30-7.00pm (FREE, drop-in)
New 'Why Painting’ series with Sydney College of the Arts
To coincide with the Matthys Gerber exhibition, the MCA is proud to introduce a new series of three talks exploring the recent history, current state and possible futures of painting. The series is presented in association with Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
Talk 1: Really Post-critical
By Rex Butler, Professor of Art History, Monash University
Rex Butler looks at the relationship between the original and the copy, through a discussion of the similarity (and difference) between the work of two Queensland-based artists, CJ Hendry and Michael Zavros. Painter Zavros is known for his “post-critical” attitude towards art-making, his doing away with that critical “irony” that distinguishes the work of art from that object or attitude it appears to represent.
Saturday 26 September, 2-3.30pm (FREE, booking recommended)
Talk 2: Painting Matters: Materiality, Embodiment and Contemporary Painting
By Dr Jacqueline Millner, Associate Dean, Research at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
Painting remains a key aspect of museum collections, commercial gallery stock, and artistic practice. But expectations of painting have been changing in our current times of promiscuous knowledge and image exhaustion. By considering how painting has been contextualised in certain recent international exhibitions, Jacqueline Millner draws out some of the distinctive features and strategies of contemporary painting.
Thursday 8 October, 6.30-8pm (FREE, booking recommended)
Talk 3: The Implicit Horizon
By Dr Leonhard Emmerling, Director of Programs South Asia, Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi
What is painting’s specificity? Does this term make sense in the “post-medium era”? And if so, in which way can a certain specificity be attributed to painting in a meaningful way? And if there is a thing like “specificity”, does this amount to what, from Kant to Adorno, has been named art’s autonomy? Can this traditional concept be fueled with new meaning by looking at it from the viewpoint of system theory? Leonhard Emmerling elaborates on this topic to give contour to the notion of painting as the “implicit horizon” of every visual arts practice today.
Saturday 31 October 2-3.30pm (FREE, booking recommended)