Exhibitions / This is no Fantasy

07.08.2014 to 23.08.2014

Dianne Tanzer Gallery / Nellie Castan Projects, Melbourne, 2014


Included work: Shield

Over the last two years I’ve been thinking increasingly about making ‘prop’ forms that are at once functional and functionless. Shield is the result of a methodology that imagines a practical use for a highly aestheticized form.

As an eleven year old, obsessed with medieval castles and imagined battles, I attempted to make a Knights Templar shield out of plywood, along with a tunic, and helmet. The shield was heavy and flat, and had a handle that was very difficult to hold. In the years following, I imagined that I’d one day try to remake the form, and improve on it.

Shield takes that ambition and twists it. Rather than staying in the realm of historical recreation, the cut form of Shield is inspired by imagery that is somewhat more ordinary – on an observation of holes left in broken windows. The remnant shards that cling to the edge of the window frames create another frame – that of the negative, free space, and it’s this space that I’ve cut out of the rectangular form of the object. Over the last decade, I’ve often turned to imagery sourced from shattered windows, as a means of depicting fracture, of idealism in art and life.

Shield is made of three layers of glued and bent marine-grade plywood, curved to form a surface that is more capable of deflecting attack. The use of graphite powder as a top coating makes it slippery, and semi-reflective, both potentially useful qualities in a shield.

The gleam of a graphite buffed surface suggests a mirror, but it doesn’t deliver on a functional level, it doesn’t reflect. Similarly, the leather straps on the rear of Shield suggest that the work might be intended to be useful as armour, but the delicacy of the graphite surface and the sharp protrusions of the plywood edges deny it.

Still, it performs.


Included work: Red Oxide

Red Oxide is one part of a sequence of painted books based on biographies of Jackson Pollock. Nine hardback books were painted in this series- each of them stripped-back monochrome replicas of the original books on which they were based.

This particular work uses B H Friedman’s classic 1972 biography Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible as its source, with the author’s name, title, subtitle and publisher logo completely removed.

Constructed from linen, canvas and cardboard, the surface of Red Oxide carries exaggerated damage from its imagined use as an actual object – marks, creases, tears and stains disrupt the carefully painted surface. Yet the visible edges of the internal pages, constructed of canvas, are crisp and clean.

This work is a blank, a black hole, a void, part of the history of reductive abstraction, where the erasure of content allows the formal qualities of an object to raise to the surface, to become explicit – an approach Pollock took in much of his later work. Like Pollock, I’m attempting to reduce the possibility of ‘reading’- by removing context through the erasure of text and imagery, leaving only the remnant stripes of the book’s original design.

The hardback book is a beautifully redundant form. Historically its authority was held in its bulk, its expense, its inability to be broken. The dust jacket, by contrast, is lightweight, flimsy, easily damaged – a throw away. Red Oxide amplifies this distinction, to the extent where the cover seems incongruous, misfit.

It’s a fabrication that is stuck inside my world, where the struggle for meaning, purpose and existence causes it to crumble and decay.

Shield 2014 by Chris Bond

Shield  2014

graphite, plywood, leather, polyurethane

81 x 60 x 10 cm

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Shield (detail, side) 2014 by Chris Bond

Shield (detail, side)  2014

graphite, plywood, leather, polyurethane

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Shield (detail, rear) 2014 by Chris Bond

Shield (detail, rear)  2014

graphite, plywood, leather, polyurethane

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Red Oxide 2012 by Chris Bond

Red Oxide  2012

oil on linen, canvas, card, mdf

235 x 160 x 38 mm

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