I’d been hearing quite a bit about Parramatta Artists Studios, but it wasn’t until Samantha Ferris, owner of Galerie pompom in Chippendale invited my on a studio visit to meet Mason Kimber, that I actually got a chance to see it in action. A complex of 14 council-funded, residential and non-residential artists’ studios in a Federation building in the CBD of the state’s second city, the Studios are not only a case study in effective decentralisation, they are a fantastic local government initiative on any level. No matter how much one knows about an artist’s oeuvre, there is nothing quite like visiting him or her at work in the studio, surrounded by their research and their tools and the dabblings and experiments that will eventually become finished work. I make it a point to get to know all the artists I collect, since this is a way of deepening my understanding of their output, and hence my collection. Kimber is perhaps in his mid-20s, is wise above his years: much of his work explores the future whilst taking into account the ancient past, something that interests me in my own work as an architect. We discussed art, architecture and culture in its broadest sense. I came away so inspired that when asked to write the wall notes for his show, I leapt at the opportunity.
This is what you can read on the walls of Mason Kimber’s show at Galerie pompom, a show both painterly and architectonic, a collection of paintings and wall installations that is great in its humility. (until April 26th)
Oltre la Vista
A visit to Mason Kimber's studio is a great experience, full of interesting contrasts and contradictions. The impact of his recent residency in Rome is evident in the work, especially that his time was spent not only with other artists, but architects, archeologists and other academics.
The fresco (as studied in Rome, Naples, and Pompeii) is one of the bridges between architecture and art. Mason Kimber questions the idea of authenticity and what really makes something authentic in these fresco works. Using the layering of objects, colours, frames and shafts of light to draw the viewer into the scene, he leaves the question of whether one has been placed inside or outside. Is one the viewer or being viewed? Although abstract they evoke a spatial quality, one where the architecture is not clearly seen but certainly felt. Memory is also an important part of these works, not only due to the obvious reference of time, and the physical erosion of the pigments and plaster, but also through information that has been lost as a result. It is interesting to think about how we retain some memories yet forget others, only to remember them again, however not always in exactly the same way they happened. Filling in the gaps becomes a very personal experience and one could argue a creative process – this process certainly helps to take the viewer back in time.
Kimber’s drive to discover the past is found both in his exploration of subject and also through his
dedication to past techniques. The technical research and testing to achieve the fresco textures using plaster and pigments has been extensive. In contrast, the works on canvas offer a multi-layer, multi-framed experience. Although they make reference to the frescos and other classical elements, they are clearly contemporary, using blocks of colour in various
shapes and textures with great painterly confidence, taking the viewer into the depths of the work. The idea of missing information, evident in the frescos, appears again but this time in the form of entirely missing figurative elements, figures in relief, elements in shadow. When we last met I questioned Mason on the purpose of art and he told me it was to explore. One could argue this is one of the central purposes of life itself. The title of the show is Oltre la Vista (Beyond the View) and it is here that the real exploration of life and art takes place.
Founding Principal, Tobias Partners Architects