Neon Parc acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung as the Traditional Owners and sovereign custodians of the Country on which we operate. We pay our deepest respects to their Elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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Rob McLeish & Bill Saylor
‘Air Like Wine’
12 May.–17 Jun.

Neon Parc is pleased to present Air Like Wine, an exhibition by Melbourne-based artist Rob McLeish (b. Melbourne, 1976), and New York-based artist Bill Saylor (b. Pennsylvania, 1960) at Neon Parc Brunswick.

For their first joint exhibition—and the premier of Saylor’s work in Australia—the duo present two distinct bodies of work, linked not so much by their content, but by a shared approach to art making itself, and a deep engagement with material processes.

In Air Like Wine, McLeish presents a suite of new large-scale oil paintings on aluminium, titled Sleepers, that continue the artist’s interest in combining imagery appropriated from Classical mythology, Pop iconography and the internet, with exotic flora and ambiguous figuration, exploring ideas of desire, decay and iconoclasm.

In Sleepers, McLeish layers imagery that is digitally warped, manually applied, erased, re-applied, layered and further distorted through a process of screen printing, painting and mark making. Predominantly using a monochromatic colour palette that ranges from blood-red wine to inky purples, McLeish accentuates the surface of the works in this process, creating a drug-like haze that imbues a murky, psychological effect. There is a palpable tension between abstraction and representation that runs throughout the series; which dissolves an array of manipulated imagery including swimming pools, bleeding orchids, Caravaggio paintings and reiterations of the artist’s own drawings and sculptures. Central to the series is a reoccurring abstract expressionist image painted by a Floridian monkey.

Bill Saylor presents a suite of new large-scale paintings for Air Like Wine, that draw from an eclectic range of influences from cave painting, graffiti art, to Abstract Expressionism. Saylor is a cultural scavenger, sifting through the detritus of civilization and the New York underground. As the critic Carlo McCormick writes about Saylor’s work, “Brut, unmannered, wild as a river or heath untouched by human intervention, Saylor’s paintings teach us that the act of perception as experience itself is filled with unpredictable motion and unruly emotions of life.”

Dense with recurring personal iconography, Saylor’s works demonstrate a profound engagement with environmental issues such as meteorology, natural history, and marine biology. Often populated by bizarre monsters, deformed sea creatures, and sinister skeletal figures that seem conjured from some “interim space”, his work evokes the shifting spectre of imminent ecological disaster.

Saylor often begins his large canvases flat and works outside against the elements at a summer cottage on the Delaware River in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. This site of natural beauty imbues the paintings with a personal history and makes the paintings “strange attractors”.

Air Like Wine brings together two artists from different generations and geographical locations, offering a rare opportunity to compare and contrast each artist’s methodology, emphasising their shared approach to art-making. Both McLeish and Saylor use distinct iconography through obsessive, relentless material processes, using repetition and reiteration over a long period of time, to develop their own idiosyncratic visual languages. Together, Air Like Wine highlights the enduring relevance of material exploration and the cultural currency of image-making.

Exhibitions (1)