June 4, 2021 - June 30, 2021

2020 (REAR) VISION. A curated selection which provides an insight into the hearts and minds of artists in 2020 with work which is reflective, responsive, reactive and importantly, honest.

This online groups exhibition features works from Kate Ballis, Penny Byrne, Eva Fernandez, Belinda Fox, Ian Friend, Junko Go, Michelle Hamer, Fiona Hiscock, Clinton Naina, Catherine Nelson, Lee Salomone, Adriane Strampp & Emma Walker.

Since March 2020, the Oxford English Dictionary has added an unprecedented 3,500 terms to its definitive record of the English language. Words and phrases such as social distancing, exposure sites, self isolation and other ‘COVID’ terms have become so woven into the contemporary lexicon that they now fill the spaces where we gather for dinner with family, are the new ice breakers on zoom chats, and the glue that holds jogging conversations together.

COVID terms saturate media headlines that spew from small screens glued to hands, and boom from headphones stuck to ears like cancerous growths. We’ve become so engulfed by a media driven social landscape that discomfort, tension and anxiety are normalised.

Given the dramatic shift in our daily dialogue and lived experience of life under the cloud of a pandemic in 2020, it should come as no surprise that the practices of visual artists have been affected in ways which are unprecedented. Many artists feel rudderless in an environment where, after completing a body of work, a programmed exhibition is no longer a certainty.

Some who have been forced to relocate from their lofty light filled warehouse studios to home garages and spare rooms during Victoria’s four lockdowns are grieving the sanctity of their personal creative space. The dappled light and soothing sounds of talkback radio or classical music now replaced with the endless drone of radio news and daily press conferences which detail case numbers and the constant threat of tragedy.

Though there have been losses: income, wellbeing and the affirming in
real life encounter with a viewing audience, there have also been gains. The abiding need to create remains as strong as ever. The work which is being produced, rather then being inward-looking is a mirror to an altered world; one that is observed, experienced, and felt. Importantly, the work produced in 2020 has harnessed the collective consciousness more than ever before and in doing so, will serve as record of a significant period in contemporary history.

In this time like no other, Gallerysmith has brought together a curated selection of artists’ experiences of 2020 with this online exhibition 2020(REAR)VISION. This exhibition begins with the fire-ravaged landscapes which consumed the first months of the year, takes us through a year of soap and facemasks and ends with the detritus of a pandemic year. It draws artists from both within and beyond Gallerysmith and aims to provide a snapshot, as a social history record of a most unusual and challenging time. It contains work which is reflective, responsive, reactive and importantly, honest.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this online exhibition.

Marita Smith