In the not-too-distant past, the radical diversity that now characterises art was perhaps more likely understood in relation to one of the historically romanticised twin faces of modern art. These broad allegiances can be characterised as, on the one hand a progressive tendency toward reduction and abstraction, and on the other an iconoclastic tendency toward association, quotation and juxtaposition. And for the most part, these oppositional tendencies developed through very different formal and conceptual methodologies. Today, however, we are more likely to encounter art as a series of granular and sometimes contradictory oscillations between and around these once heated debates.
Oscilloforms is a neologism encapsulating an experientially grounded inquiry into the disparate and entangled natures of reductive, expanded and non-objective art artforms in the twenty-first century. This mutant term assumes that contemporary art is understood not as a chronological shift from its historical predecessors but rather as a complex interplay of continuities, dead ends, lateral exaptations and departures. Unlike its twentieth-century precursors, this is art that actively and playfully blurs once rigid demarcations between abstraction and representation. Here, an artist may instead emphasise the extent and manner to which a work refers beyond itself, defies literal interpretation, or delineates its presence in the world. This granular blurring is also symptomatic of broader departures from understanding art and the world though the antithetical play of binaries, such as hard-line conceptualism set against the reified autonomy of formalism. Indeed, rather than throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, some artists prefer to emphasise mutual insufficiencies, such as the inevitable presence of external historical, social and cultural references in what might be otherwise read as reductive or abstracted material presentations. Although the once antithetical poles of reduction and expansion were historically seen as cornerstones in the interpretation of progressive art, such distinctions are today more aptly experienced as oscillating amalgamations of eclectic formal and conceptual aesthetic languages. Accordingly, this exhibition reflects the pluralistic and multifaceted natures of current artistic practices.
The artists presented in Oscilloforms navigate this diverse terrain, employing a broad spectrum of material and conceptual approaches. Their works are testament to myriad ways in which reductive, non-objective and materially expanded artforms can serve as dynamic vehicles for filtering diverse interests, experiences and perspectives.
Curated by Cūrā8 and featuring:
Carol Cheng Mastroianni
Anne Scott Wilson