fair is foul & foul is fair

abdul abdullah, david collins, andrew nicholls

16 october - 14 november 2015

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair brings together the work of three Perth-born artists drawing inspiration from the works of William Shakespeare, 400 years after his death. The exhibition comprises drawings, paintings and photography created in Perth, Sydney and Italy since 2008.

The exhibition title is the opening line of Macbeth, chanted by the three witches to establish the play's atmosphere of violent chaos, in which the natural order is disrupted with cataclysmic consequences. In this context, it refers to each artists' use of extravagant and opulent aesthetics to explore dark subject matter, drawing their audience in through seemingly-playful or indulgent visual excess before making critical commentary on marginalisation, prejudice, privilege, or the inevitability of death.

Shakespeare has been an ongoing source of inspiration to each of the exhibiting artists, but this is the first time they have devoted an entire exhibition to his influence. For Abdullah, the oppressed and monstrous Caliban from The Tempest provides an opportunity to explore the plight of the colonised 'other'; having immediately identified with the character when reading the play in high school, he has since created a series of self-portraits inspired by the character that are among his most powerful photographic works. One of these, Green and Gold (2013) is included in this exhibition, alongside two exquisite new self-portraits as Hamlet's Ophelia.

Collins' practice reinterprets the tropes of romanticism, neo-classicism, the gothic revival and aesthetic movements, to create contemporary images of sensual and languid decadence that become increasingly problematised and disturbing under close investigation, recalling the memento mori tradition. Collins has previously referenced Ophelia and the characters A Midsummer Night's Dream, two common tropes in the Romantic tradition. For Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair he has continued his exploration of A Midsummer Night's Dream through a new series of sensuous photographs, including self portraits as Puck.

Exhibition curator Andrew Nicholls is a descendant of the Thanes of Cawdor, making him - theoretically - one of Macbeth's distant relatives. He has produced a photographic series for the exhibition interpreting the violent atmosphere of Macbeth, alongside a number of works referencing slaves in Shakespeare, and photographs created in the Italian cities of Florence and Verona, interpreting the 'bro-mances' in All's Well that Ends Well, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, respectively. The exhibition will also be the first Perth showing of Nicholls' 10-panel Venus and Adonis Frieze (2008-2009) originally commissioned for Duke University Press' publication, Shakesqueer, but recently re-worked and expanded for Perth audiences. Nicholls' $250,000 commission for the new City of Perth Library, a ceiling mural based upon The Tempest (and featuring a portrait of Abdullah as Caliban), is scheduled to open in early 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
venus and adonis frieze
archival ink pen on watercolour paper
76 x 57cm [x10]
2008-15
$9,900
abdul abdullah artwork
abdul abdullah
self portrait as ophelia [study 1]
oil + resin on board
40 x 35cm
2015
$1,800 sold
abdul abdullah artwork
abdul abdullah
self portrait as ophelia [study 2]
oil + resin on board
40 x 35cm
2015
$1,800 sold
abdul abdullah artwork
abdul abdullah
green and gold
AP 1
c type photograph
100 x 80cm
2013
$3,500 sold
david collins artwork
david collins
robin goodfellow
edition 1/5
giclee fine art print on ilford gold fibre
110 x 74cm
2015
$2,200
david collins artwork
david collins
titania
edition 1/5
giclee fine art print on ilford gold fibre
110 x 74cm
2015
$2,200
david collins artwork
david collins
love in idleness
edition 1/5
giclee fine art print on ilford gold fibre
110 x 74cm
2015
$2,200
david collins artwork
david collins
a midsummer night's dream
[act 2, sccene 1]
edition 1/5
giclee fine art print on ilford gold fibre
93 x 100cm
2013-15
$2,200
david collins artwork
david collins
a midsummer night's dream
[act 4, sccene 1]
edition 1/5
giclee fine art print on ilford gold fibre
100 x 93cm
2013-15
$2,200
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
fair is foul and foul is fair
edition 1/3
archival inkjet print on ilford paper
80 x 180cm
2015
$2,200
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
what, you egg!
edition 1/3
archival inkjet print on ilford paper
93 x 100cm
2015
$1,200
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
be bloody, bold and resolute
edition 1/3
archival inkjet print on ilford paper
80 x 50cm
2015
$1,200
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
caliban
archival ink pen + metallic paint on watercolour paper
25.5 x 21cm
2015
$385
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
ariel
archival ink pen on watercolour paper
25.5 x 20cm
2013
$385 sold
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
ophelia's bouquet
archival ink pen on watercolour paper
56 x 56cm
2015
$660 sold
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
chiron and demetrius
archival ink pen on watercolour paper
46 x 38cm [x2]
2014-15
$1,100
andrew nicholls artwork
andrew nicholls
all that was mine in silvia
edition 1/3
archival inkjet print on ilford paper
80 x 120cm
2015
$1,650