Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art

Catalogue Essay: The Watcher

In this body of work Alison Burton focuses on children’s performance of ‘dressing up’, elaborating some of the themes of her Australian Family exhibition (2003). However, Burton has moved away from the flat pastel painted surface and now utilizes a deep focus digital image with a dark lush surface. In The Watcher series, she combines masks, spectacles, furs, fine fabrics, jewellery, vanitas imagery, the veil and other religious talismans. This witty game of hide and seek, which relates to identity formation, sexuality, and gender construction, brings to mind Melanie Klein’s post-Freudian theory that children symbolically represent phantasies, wishes and experiences through play. The child in this new series evolved from disparate sources such as studio photographs of a family of Sicilian children from the 1920s, women in furs and finery circa 1950s from Burton’s family photo archive, and art historical references including Caravaggio, Velazquez, Bronzino and Chardin. Burton’s...

Catalogue Essay: Australian Family Album

These moving images by Alison Burton began their life as a deeply personal response of the artist to the recorded still life of memory, treasured portraits in her family archive.

Working from printed drawings of computer sketches meant that to the artist these images first emerged as something akin to a print. What has transpired in the creative porcess is a re-animation of the essence of childhood itself. quite literally, Burton paints her family 'into life', allowing the power of the unconscious to give a two-dimensional elliptical effect thit is in its way more alive to the emotional truth of the human figure than much figurative art.

Alison Burton's paintings are striding for the way in which they compress life energy into a formal constructed shape; homage is paid here to the traditional concerns of engraving and printmaking, of geometry, alighnment, and detail. It is therefore easy to see the (acknowledged) influence of the work of German artist Albrecht Durer. In the subtle...

Artist Statement: Howard Arkley Portraits

These portraits were initiated prior to Howard (Arkley)'s death, and have become a representation of personal memory. They express the fear of forgetting so often experienced by the bereaved and related particularly to Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida. In Camera Lucida, Barthes writes of the aura of lost time and memory particularly in relation to the deaths of his mother and his search for the photograph of her that best expressed her spirit.

With the portraits of Howard I continue to make, it is a similar search for the picture that best expresses his essence. The idea of capturing a likeness is less important than capturing a memory, the essence of his character, realised by the punctum which according to Barthes is that part of a picture that stirs the memory and arouses the emotion. While memory is expressed in the stance, the mask, the costume; symbols of the character, it is to a greater extent in the actual painting of the picture that my connection to a companion, artist...