Dali's Moustache is a celebration of three Eastern Shore painters who use in their work methods popularised by the great Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali (currently a great retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria) and his fellow artists.
The three painters featured in this exhibition, Elizabeth Barsham, Alex Wanders and Betty Nolan, are building the visual culture of our island. Using the formal means of Dadaism and Surrealism they create unique contemporary visions of what it is to be Tasmanian underneath the surface of things, whether the spiritual, the fantastic or the world of the object.
Distortion, antigravity, non local colour, transparency and viscous space are used to show their different philosophies.
Elizabeth Barsham's works remind us of Max Ernst's great masterpiece Europe After the Rain. Similar to the devastated vegetal ruins he depicts, her immaculately painted forests are strangely compromised, at once fecund, living organisms, but also mutating in strange directions. Rich with possibility, verdant and potentially explosive they watch the watchers. The colours and forms metamorphose into manmade forms and human viscera. Something unexpected is at the edge of the clearing.
In Alex Wander's works a flame burns without consuming wood, a bronze snake is lifted up on a pole and a staff blossoms in the desert. Is this Arcadia or Eden before the fall - a time when the lion lay down with the lamb? Their painted perfection speaks of a nobility and permanence that is something more than visual perception, that is richer and more than real (surreal). Suave varnishes are lit from within, illuminating enigmatic spiritual form, informed by belief.
Betty Nolan's paintings are a response to European travel in 2008. The world's great cities throng with shoppers who desire the object, whether it is the designer handbag, the antique or the missing part of an obscure collection. Back in Tasmania we trawl markets to find our own object of desire. Sometimes we don't know what it is, but it will speak to us when we have the encounter. This conversation is the subject of her works, where little clocks sculpted from coloured varnishes converse with the young shopper or objects assume a metaphorical scale consistent with their significance in the mind of the collector.
Betty Nolan, 2009
Betty Nolan's website: www.foreshoreartschool.com.au