Black Paintings

2 August - 23 August 2014

In 1961, Ad Reinhardt described his Black Paintings: ‘A square (neutral, shapeless) canvas, five feet wide, five feet high, as high as a man, as wide as a man’s outstretched arms (not large, not small, sizeless), trisected (no composition), one horizontal form negating one vertical form (formless, no top, no bottom, directionless), three (more or less) dark (lightless) no–contrasting (colorless) colors, brushwork brushed out to remove brushwork, a matte, flat, free–hand, painted surface (glossless, textureless, non–linear, no hard-edge, no soft edge) which does not reflect its surroundings—a pure, abstract, non–objective, timeless, spaceless, changeless, relationless, disinterested painting—an object that is self–conscious (no unconsciousness) ideal, transcendent, aware of no thing but art (absolutely no anti–art).’

Sanné Mestrom’s practice draws on iconic twentieth-century modernist artworks, exploring how value is accorded to art historical objects and how such objects are always tied to their cultural and art historical contexts. Through replication, appropriation and disruption, her work filters historical mythologies through their own systems of reference, questioning notions of lineage, originality and influence, further altered through Mestrom’s experience of making. Mestrom, in other words, makes new cultural and art historical contexts for these objects in order to assess them in a new light. Mestrom’s latest body of work revolves around Frank Stella’s Black Painting series, while also referencing Ad Reihardt’s series of the same name. Her works follow Stella’s formalist exploration of the flat surface, unpacking his principles literally so that the flat becomes form again, weaving the ‘canvas’ into a sculptural tapestry.
Born in the Netherlands in 1979, emigrating to New Zealand in 1983 and relocating to Australia in 1998, Mestrom now lives and works between Melbourne and regional Victoria. She graduated from a PhD in Fine Art at RMIT University in 2008 and a Graduate Certificate in Public Art from RMIT in 2011. She was a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary in 2010-11, and has held residencies in Mexico City, 2010, and Seoul, Korea, 2001. Recent solo exhibitions include The Internal Logic, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria, 2013-14; The Internal Logic, West Space, Melbourne, 2013; Sanné Mestrom, Utopian Slumps at Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2013, The Reclining Nude, Chalk Horse, Sydney, 2012 and Studio 12, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2011; Shaker Peg, Chalk Horse, Sydney, 2010; Things fall down. Sometimes we look up., Chalk Horse, 2009; and Certain Sacrifices, RMIT School of Art Gallery, Melbourne, 2008. Selected group exhibitions include Future Primitive, curated by Linda Michael, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2013-14; Pretty Air and Useful Things, curated by Rosemary Forde, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2012; Figure and Ground, curated by Melissa Loughnan and Jane O’Neill, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne, 2012; OCTOPUS 11: The Matter of Air, Gertrude Contemporary, 2011; Social Sculpture, curated by Charlotte Day, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, 2011; The Nothing, curated by Kelly Fliedner, West Space Melbourne and Chalk Horse Sydney, 2010; Carry On Stow Away, Gambia Castle, Auckland, New Zealand, 2010; An ideal for living, curated by Simon Gregg, Linden Gallery, Melbourne, 2008; Life is Sweet: Contemporary Australian Watercolour, curated by Bryony Nainby, Gippsland Regional Gallery, Sale, 2007; and Standing on the shoulders of giants, with Kate Newby, Münster, Germany, 2007. Mestrom was winner of the John Fries Memorial Prize, Sydney, 2011; the Siemens Post Graduate Fine Art Scholarship Award, 2006; the Australian Federation of University Women, Daphne Elliot Research Award, 2005; and the Australian Postgraduate Research Award, 2004. She has been recipient of Chartwell Trust, New Zealand and Arts Victoria funding. Mestrom’s work is held in the Artbank collection and private collections in Australia and overseas.