Robyn Ross has a ‘thing’ about eyes, and paints them in all their intensity and beauty. In her current exhibition The Female Gaze, she plays with the way the masculine and feminine are categorised in life and depicted in art.
Her three works exploit the power of ‘the gaze’, both upon – and emanating from – her subjects, both male and female.
While adept across a number of artistic styles and mediums, Robyn loves portraiture. Her celebrity portraits include Russell Crowe, Sir Tim Rice, Bette Midler, Gordon Ramsay and Harry Connick Jr.
I caught up with Robyn in early September to ask her about ‘those eyes’ and just why she paints…
She recalls being inspired by one of her teachers at the age of 14. Laughing, she adds, “it was the only thing I won awards for in high school. I was always drawing faces; painting faces.”
“And I’ve just always been attracted by eyes. I think they tell so much about someone. When I’m working with my subject, I ask them not to smile because that makes their eyes squint. Your eyes can say more with a thought than a smile.”
Asked to describe her own work and what inspires her, the immediate response is “faces, colours and atmosphere – an atmosphere in a room of people, where there’s good tension, excitement or apprehension.”
“I want to engage the viewer. To do that, I love to have an extra layer for people to see. I seek to find an intensity, to show people how I see my subject, and the eyes are always the most expressive part of someone’s face.”
“That’s why I’m attracted to portrait painting. I like to meet people to get a sense of their personality. That’s not something you can get from a photo. I need to feel their essence.”
Talking specifically about the images in The Female Gaze, the conversation again returns to eyes. “In this series, the whole idea is the focus of the eyes,” Robyn explains. “The eyes tell you that it’s a face, but then I’ve played with the way the faces and the personalities are perceived, based on their sex.”
During our interview, Robyn reveals she’s inspired by Gustav Klimt. Her art practice is “very much about creating a mixture of both the real and unreal.” In this case, “unrealistic shapes around realistic faces.”
“I take an original idea, but the idea evolves as the painting progresses. Here, I’m challenging and augmenting traditional beliefs of masculine and feminine stereotypes.”
Past President of Portrait Artists Australia, Robyn has been Arts Ambassador for The Sir David Martin Foundation since 2012. Her international exhibitions include the Australian Embassy Washington, Invited Guest Artist at Biennale Izmir Turkey, Florence Biennale, Goethe Institute Germany and ART Monaco 2014.
Blog image: “Ollie 17 Yrs” © Emma Leslie, from Transcend: Portraits of Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth – one of two exhibitions opening as part of The Art of Gender, 1 September 6-8pm at Canvas Bar
The exhibition features work by Emma and painter Robyn Ross. In her documentary exhibition, Emma showcases 10 transgender children aged 5-17 in an environment in which they feel comfortable.
Emma’s documentary work has been published by the BBC and Buzzfeed. The BBC article follows up to discuss the complex circumstances that create our gender, an interesting read. One of Emma’s subjects was also the subject of Australian Story’s About A Girl, which aired in August this year.
Artist Robyn Ross explores depictions of femininity in her show The Female Gaze – an ironic take on the male gaze, and ideals of the feminine in art. More about Robyn’s work in an upcoming blog. (Image below: “Top Hat and Tails” © Robyn Ross)
Marco Rudek’s Snæland is one of two exhibitions opening 10 August at GkJE Galleries. Part of “Landscapes And…” Snæland is the feature exhibition, sharing the walls with work by fellow photographer Timothy Harland.
Marco was born in Germany and trained as an Industrial Designer before taking up photography. He believes the principles of creating a good photograph are the same as that of good product design. The ‘designer/photographer’ must create an image that works, makes you feel good, and gives you a good experience.
“A good photograph,” he says, “creates an emotional response, a feeling. It transports the viewer to the place, gives a sense of temperature and mood, inviting the audience to enter the photograph itself.”
Drawing on almost 15 years in the design industry, Marco became enamored with photography in 2006, when he first arrived in Australia. Since then, he’s been through ‘photographic stages’ that encompass travel snapper, hobbyist, passionate explorer, part-time professional, and back to explorer.
“Being paid for your images, inevitably changes your approach as you’re trying to please someone else. Without that constraint, you’re truly free to be yourself as an artist and photographer.”
The photographs in Snæland were taken on an eight-day trip around Iceland in late October 2015. Marco covered almost 2,200 kilometres, took almost 3,000 photographs and “pretty much fell in love with the place.”
25 – 29 July
Opening : Wednesday, 27 July
Join us : 6-8pm
Walls — Geoff Jaeger
Geoff Jaeger has taken photographs since a young child. His favourite photographic assignment is to document urban life and the built environment in unfamiliar cities.
These photographs in this exhibition were taken in Berlin during a visit in 2010. Generously on loan from their current owners, they feature the Berlin wall near and at the Eastside Gallery.
Factory 1 (Blog Image) is a cropped photograph of a mural by German artist Karsten Wenzel. The slogan “die Beständigkeit der Ignoranz” (the persistence of ignorance) feels very relevant today.
The image also brings to mind the question: who’s art is it anyway? A mural becomes a photograph, Karsten’s art photographically appropriated and the artist due a commission…
“My creative motivation arises from the need for soul-searching…reflections on power, and violence in open or structural shape emerge. Authorities, myths and forms of staging are questioned with the means of painting…” – Karsten Wenzel, 2009.
Original Artwork © Karsten Wenzel, 1990 / 2009
Photographic Image © Geoff Jaeger, 2010
Parsa exhibited with GkJE as part this year’s Head on Photo Festival. Now based in Sydney, he was born in northern Iran, in Lahijan. Completing film and media studies, while honing his skills in the field of TV Production, his fine art photography focuses on the ethereal, whimsical utilising painterly techniques.
Take a look at some of his latest images and get inspired.
Blog Image : “Running to the Light”
© Parsa Jamalpour, 2015
From In Her Dream
Head On, 2016
An Interview with Photographer, Katherine Millard.
Katherine Millard loves walking, and just as well, because her photography relies on her ability to focus in on the everyday in urban environments. I was lucky enough to interview Katherine during her exhibition with GkJE Galleries at Sydney’s Canvas Bar.
She tells me, “it began with a Tumblr blog while in New York during 2009, walking around with a small pocket camera, I was posting the images to my blog.” This first photographic excursion has since evolved into the I Was Out Walking series, encompassing various famous capitals.
“I was always interested in photography,” Katherine says, “I remember being obsessed with the family camera as a child, taking photos of family and everything. There must be endless strips of film somewhere with everything macro in the world on it,” she laughs.
“I loved collecting cameras too, and recall one Christmas – I think I was 12 or 13 – my dad had bought me a bunch of old cameras, and it was one of the best presents I’ve ever received.”
I ask her about how she finds or collects her images. “I don’t like putting the camera in someone’s face, the shots are more spontaneous – quiet, but quite vibrant – streetlife, the buildings behind, a poster stuck on a poster, stuck on a poster nearby.
“In Paris there were more people, and they stood out to me more. I find there are always things that quintessentially speak of the place I’m in; like the architecture, the energy of the people going about their daily lives, people typical of where I am.”
She cites the New York and Paris experiences as being very different, with her shift to mobile photography and deliberate ways of walking. “ I’d take a different path every morning, choose a different metro station to find a new place and walk back home from there.”
And how did these casual walks turn into a formal exhibition? “I moved over to Instagram, it was then people started liking and commenting on my work, and so I kept going. That’s actually how I came to exhibit as part of the 2016 Head On Photo Festival, because a lot of people said you should exhibit these photos. In the end this series of people just emerged.”
Katherine tells me she’s taken photographs every day for the past seven years or more. When asked about her photography practice, vibrancy comes to the fore again.
“I like the scenes to be vibrant and vivid, I’ve been known to turn greens pink and pinks green, reverse the saturation, create some quite extreme contrasts, like a green sky and all-pink wasteland near a housing project outside New York. I like the warmth these intense colors and contrasts bring to the images.”
It’s been a long journey into the formal process of photographic exhibitions, but I get the strong sense Katherine Millard and her work will be with us for some time. She’s currently planning a Sydney series and looking ahead to Shanghai and another European destination. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @iwasoutwalking, and see photographs from her Paris series at GkJE Galleries until 21 July 2016.
Blog Image : Rue De Castiglione © Katherine Millard, 2013
Katherine was interviewed by Geoff
“Silverwater Park” – © Chris Round
“This image is part of a new series investigating the surreal, colourful and sometimes unintentionally compelling forms of contemporary urban environments.
“Sometimes through planning and sometimes through sheer coincidence these spaces offer an array of arresting subject matter that uncovers our rather bizarre and erratic relationship with the ever-evolving 21st century urban landscape.”
Talking about his work, Chris says, “[my photographs] reflect the likely influence my UK upbringing has had on my photographic practice in Australia.
“The Australian landscape is more associated with sun-bleached paddocks and blue skies, but my approach has been to seek out the softer light of overcast days.
“The muted colours produced are not those of faded photographs, but of a sun-bleached landscape now under a temporary grey-sky reprieve.
“This unexpected approach to Australian light was never deliberate, but crept in to my work over a few years and is surely influenced by my being a dual citizen of the UK and Australia.
Having spent an almost equal amount of time in each country, perhaps I am trying to find an evenly balanced sense of place through my photographs, an equal division within each image: an Australian scene with an ‘English’ sky.
“Consequently I ask myself this: The longer I live here in Australia will the pendulum of belonging eventually swing in favour of my adopted land, or will I always be ‘in two places?”
— Chris Round, June 2016