Submitted Review

Brett Colquhoun: ‘Mirrors’

  • Five Walls • Footscray

  • 02 March—19 March 2021

  • Donald Holt • Published 08 March 2021

Brett Colquhoun’s exhibition is one of three at the ever expanding Five Walls space. Known for his reduced, intense, introspective painting, these works at first seem to have glanced onward. Yet on further reflection there’s the same subjectivity motoring behind.

‘Reflex or reflection.’

The sculptures are fragile outlines. They are uncomfortable, materially. They are beguiling.
The group are assembled from papier-mâché on wire armature, latching onto a painted alloy section anchored to a concrete support. They lurch into the space defining the other works and themselves. Theres a literal aspect that anyone pinned in, humming on the Monash freeway will know, but there is also a change of scale and sense that the glassless armatures are reflecting missing time, a void that is lost time. A stationary moment. The rotational placement of the pieces infers a refraction, framing unknown vistas and fragments.

Colquhoun’s work, to me, has always looked to still time without focusing on the abject. That pleasurable middle-distance stare, the vague moment that is completely your own. It is here in these sculptures.

It would be easy to dismiss the furtive nature of the Papier-mâché in favour of painted bronze that could transmute the grippy hand made nature of these objects. It would be a delight and I encourage that move. However, there’s something else at play here rendering the material appropriate. The choice suggests a searching and testing, as if they are maquettes.

There are 2 suites of collages. While there’s an obvious material connection, their inclusion invokes a temporal question. The body is cut from yellowed pages of LIFE magazine. Both tracts of text and images are utilised. The overlaid images of sinewy shapes look like cartoons for the sculptures. In opposing the images and layering over the nostalgic text and images have a seemingly unintentional playfulness which you can dip into or scan with equal pleasure. The musing is, are these preparatory works or were they reactions to the sculptures? Reflex or reflection, either way Colquhoun’s gear shift has been smooth.