Glowing, funky, cool and iconic, Modern Currents features works from TarraWarra Museum of Art’s significant collection of abstract painting and sculpture. The exhibition showcases the strength of post-painterly abstraction in our collection and, in particular, our holdings of works from the important period of 1968–1970. The title of the exhibition suggests that modern abstraction is a current that runs through the history of Australian painting and sculpture and is, moreover, ‘current’ today.
Since the early twentieth century, abstraction has followed several trajectories and the artists in Modern Currents exhibit a wide variety of attitudes to the abstract. Ranging from 1963 to 2012, this exhibition includes works that can be loosely grouped into geometric, pattern, colour field and conceptual abstraction. Many of the artists appeared in the landmark The Field exhibition, held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1968, including David Aspden, Sydney Ball, Robert Hunter, Michael Johnson, Clement Meadmore, John Peart and Trevor Vickers – an exhibition that ushered in a new era in Australian abstract painting.
Each of the artists in this exhibition explores a system of one kind or another. The works have their own internal logic, a pattern, or structure that is at times iconic and still, and in other instances, in a process of unfurling and breaking apart. The dialogue that coheres around an abstract work of art can be about the sheer presence of the object; the dimensions of scale; phenomenological and experiential effects; as well as the object’s relationship with the materials of the everyday. As such, experiments with abstraction seem limitless.