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"The Syntax of Style: Mark Kimber (SA), Deborah Paauwe (SA), Lyndal Walker (VIC)"
2001-07-27 until 2001-08-26
Australian Center for Photography
Paddington, NS, AU

Lush, seductive and witty, this exhibition features work by three artists who exploit the language of fashion photography in the pursuit of art. Mark Kimber and Deborah Paauwe live in South Australia. Lyndal Walker resides in Victoria.

Be it the fetishised implication of tailoring and drape, the seductive but disquieting relation of flesh and fabric or the wish-fulfilment of lifestyle advertising, these images articulate the familiar to new ends. The exhibition brings together Deborah Paauwe’s Sugar Nights, Lyndal Walker’s All New Personal Style and premieres new work by Mark Kimber.

While at first glance Mark Kimber’s lush colour photographs appear to be dramatically lit promotions for men’s casual wear, closer investigation reveals his subjects to be dolls. Despite the apparently nonchalant drape of an open coat or flick of a tie loosely knotted around the neck, these carefully fabricated objects – man, shirt, jeans, coat and tie are all moulded from a single lump of plastic.

Oozing a kind of sexy machismo, these are seductive and disquieting images. Archetype and artifice meet. The images appear to celebrate the heightened, eroticised masculinity of consumerism – young, athletic and enigmatic. High on testosterone and low on individuality. By rendering such ideals in plastic, crudely but effectively lit by simple torchlight, Mark Kimber is signalling the raw, the unsophisticated, and the ersatz.

These images have the wistfulness of a glance back to youth from the perspective of middle age while, as the artist has suggested, they also seek to make contact with the memory of an elusive father-figure. Too urbane to be Action Man, too butch to be Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken; these toy boys haunt the imagination at the very crossroads where the urban masculine postmodern psyche stands searching for a way to maturity.

Mark Kimber was born in 1954 in Adelaide, South Australia. In 1981 he gained a BA in Fine Arts at the South Australia School of Art and in 2000 he completed an MA in Fine Arts at Chelsea School of Art in London, UK. Since the early eighties he has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work is held in public and private collections including National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Artbank, Parliament House Collection and London Institute. Mark Kimber is represented by Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, Byron Mapp Gallery, Sydney and Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne.

Deborah Paauwe’s career has reached new heights since returning to Adelaide from a Samstag Scholarship year at Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. Her work has shifted from early self-portraits to the use of models to create a highly seductive series of closely cropped tableaux that are both enigmatic and erotic. While studying in London, she worked in the famous vintage clothing store, Steinberg and Tolkien. The store stocked a huge range of costumes from which she was able to borrow the outfits she needed in the making of these photographs.

It is the luscious textures of these costumes that allow the images in Sugar Nights to pose as period pieces like the fragmented frames of a fifties film or pages from a postwar fashion magazine. Deborah Paauwe focuses on the folds of a frock, the clasping of hands, the texture of the skin. This highly refined aesthetic captures a burgeoning femininity in a way that is both enchanting and unsettling.

Deborah Paauwe was born in Pennsylvania, USA in 1972 and came to live in Adelaide in 1985. In 1994 she gained a BA in Visual Arts at the University of South Australia and in 1999 a Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, gaining an MA in Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London in 2000. Since the mid-nineties she has exhibited widely in Australia with recent exhibitions in Asia and Europe. Her work is held in public and private collections including Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia and Artbank. Deborah Paauwe is represented by Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

Lyndal Walker is a rising star of the Melbourne arts scene. Her imagery has explored contemporary popular culture, commerce and advertising. In January this year ACP showed her work on garage sales as part of New Australiana (now touring nationally). In this new body of work she addresses the notion of personal style - the way people dress and dress up - posing the question is there room any more for true individualityNULL

Each of the eight images is titled with the name of the subject - but are the personas presented in All New Personal Style real, a fantasy or a visual jokeNULL Is the image of Celeste barbecuing snags any less of a dress-up than Lucies solo-wedding pose; is Peter and Audras PVC gothic assault on the streets of Melbourne any more a statement of personal style than Tims cowboy hatNULL Harnessing the mix of documentation and construction prevalent in Contemporary life-style photography, Lyndal Walkers images question the place of individuality in a world of generic style, personal image management and synthetic wish-fulfilment.

Lyndal Walker was born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1973. In 1994 she gained a BA in Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts and in 2000 completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Electronic Design and Interactive Media. Since the mid-nineties she has exhibited nationally and internationally including presentations in New York, Detroit, Glasgow and Mexico City. Lyndal Walker is represented by Modern Culture, New York.

Deborah Paauwe,
Candy Girl 2000

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