Category Archives: What

what: Helen’s Leg until 3 September

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What’s practice has encompassed painting, performance, sculpture and installation and often critiques the role of art and the artist in contemporary society. His work draws on his own life, popular culture, art, music, politics and religion – often provoking controversy as well as humour. Indeed, as Sebastian Smee remarked in 2007, what is “fearless”. For his 17th solo exhibition, what presents a series of paintings based on one night in Katoomba – and what happened to him.

A key aspect to what’s work is interrogating the limits of materials and his diverse use of (sometimes unconventional) materials was demonstrated in What: Large Art 1720 – 2009, what’s survey exhibition held at the National Art School in 2009. At the show, Mike Parr declared that what’s Instrument for Measuring the Universe 2002-2004 “one of the masterpieces of Australian art”.

Born in Queensland, what grew up in Western Sydney. He graduated from the National Art School in 1992 and in 2001 completed Masters of Arts at the University of Western Sydney. He has exhibited nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at National Art School, Campbelltown Art Centre, Wollongong City Gallery and Gallery 9 in Sydney, and Block Projects, Melbourne. what has participated in group exhibitions at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Wollongong City Gallery, Firstdraft Gallery, and MOP Projects. He has been a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and won the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award in 2002. In addition, what has participated in artist residencies in Basel, Switzerland; Wollongong City Gallery, and at the Arts NSW Gunnery Studio Residency, Sydney.

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What’s new painting – Red Headed Mouse Spider


Red Headed Mouse Spider 2010
Oil on linen
122 x 122 cm

These new paintings are not varnished but the surface is worked up through a large number of thin glazes which develop the tone and complexity of the palette, often warm/cold alternations.  Its important to clarify that these works aren’t simply a matte painting varnished to gloss, but rather the process of paint application which develops the lustre and also transparency of the surface. I am using a limited palette of only Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Pthalo Blue – and the white of the primed canvas – a kinda’ chiaroscuro in reverse as the initial gesso remains as the lightest sections of the composition.

The works What is planning for his next exhibition will further this technique and will range from figurative to abstraction.

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Filed under Artwork of the day, Contemporary Art, News, Sydney, What