ARTNEWSSUBSCRIBECONTACT
wellington street install
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DECORATE 2017
WELLINGTON ST PROJECTS, SYDNEY


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DECORATE 2017 | link
WELLINGTON ST PROJECTS, SYDNEY


Decoration as Discourse: The language of pattern in the paintings of Simon Degroot.
Jess Berry

‘Any decoration is futile, when it does not remind you of something beyond itself.’
William Morris1

When the architect Adolf Loos wrote ‘Ornament and Crime’ in 1908, he set about a discourse of disavowing decoration that became the cornerstone of Modernist design.2 Decoration was a dirty word, and the pleasurable surfaces of domestic space were replaced with blank and empty white cubes. Simon Degroot brings these two seemingly antithetical discourses together again in his exhibition, Decorate; where the sparse armature of the grid comes into contact with exuberant patterns derived from everyday life. In this way the artist converses with a complex terrain of art, design and craft hierarchies, a risk that might easily cast his work in the disdained realm of the frivolous or inconsequential. The works overcome this problem by cleverly filtering a diverse lexicon of sources: pop art, postmodern design, and kitsch, along with geometry, abstraction and formalism—so drawing attention to the debates of decoration that have often shaped art history.

Disparaging comparisons between painting and wallpaper were almost an overly exploited equation in the 1950s. Harold Rosenberg described gestural abstraction as ‘apocalyptic wallpaper’ and Clement Greenberg differentiated flat-surface abstraction from ‘collapsing into decoration, mere wallpaper patterns.3 To evoke wallpaper in painting then, is to suggest an anxiety around possible slippages between abstraction and decoration that might lead to painting’s fall from the graces of high-art. Painting’s claim to aesthetic and conceptual superiority and authority  is called into question if equated to the emptiness of the merely ornamental. Degroot wilfully engages with these slippages, by recontextualising wallpaper patterns as abstract images he identifies the tensions and similarities between these two formal languages. The machismo and heroics associated with modernist abstraction are playfully contorted through personable DayGlo colours, rainbows and fleurons. This task reminds us of why pop-art tried to transgress the boundaries of fine art by suggesting that painting could be another form of decoration in the realm of popular culture. Warhol’s wallpapers for instance, relished their associations with the decorative, the domestic and the feminine by critiquing the heterosexual bravado of abstract painting.   

In this way, Decorate can be understood as an extension of concerns explored in 1970s American painting. In particular, the Pattern and Decoration Movement (P&D) sought to restore the domestic and the decorative in art, critiquing the austerity of minimalism and re-dressing modernism’s omissions. Artists such as Robert Zakanitch and Joyce Kozloff produced large, boldly coloured paintings derived from wallpaper, tablecloths and rugs as a method for examining how modernism obscured feminine and non-western art forms. This short-lived, and now often forgotten movement, was a symptom of the need for art historical reform through the lens of feminism. While it might now be seen as visually chintzy, it recognised the decorative function in art as a way overcoming the limitations of abstraction.4  Where it likely failed was its overindulgence in the overloaded, and sentimental approach to its florid sources.

Degroot has observed these lessons well, this is an exhibition of exclusions, simplifications and expanded space closer to a Matisse collage than a patchwork quilt. The artist’s methods: decontextualisation, layering, and superimposition establishes spatial complexity, both within the bounded frame of the canvas and through the inter-relationships of the paintings with each other. These methods are indebted to discourses of postmodernism, that punctuate each of the paintings in the exhibition. A notable example of this can be seen in Memphis Circle (2017). Here the artist draws on forms derived from Ettore Sottsass’ design studio Memphis, and the influence of radical Italian architecture such as Superstudio and Archizoom. Memphis design invited the viewer into an aesthetic world of pattern and decoration that evoked child-like wonder while engaging with stylistically historical motifs. Degroot’s patterns are similarly bright, humorous and ironic and like these earlier design icons, uses the arbitrary decorative elements of kitsch to stimulate the senses and rouse imagination. In this way Degroot’s decoration conveys something beyond ornamentation. These are not futile paintings but juxtapositions of images that are evocative and joyful in their nostalgic appropriation of 1980s colours and reference points.

While Degroot’s paintings make clear reference to the past, and a range of art historical discourses, they also consist of forms that are familiar to us in contemporary daily- life. The artist adopts the imagery of emoticons and glyphs speaking to the idea of dispersion. That is, how an image or symbol can start off in one context and find its way into the minds of millions through the translation of digital culture. They are a decorative equivalent to a meme, riffing off our cultural reference points, multiplying and translating into new contexts, where the vernacular and everyday become worth sharing. In this way Degroot’s dynamic paintings reminds us that ‘Decorative art is the oldest new art there is.’5



1. William Morris, cited in Charlene Spretnak, The Resurgence of the Real, New York: Routledge, 1999, 200.
2. Adolf Loos, ‘Ornament and Crime [1908].’ Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays. Trans. Michael Mitchell. California: Riverside, 1998, 167-76.
3. Rosenberg and Greenberg cited in Elissa Auther, ‘Wallpaper, the Decorative and Installation Art,’ Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art, ed. Maria Elena Buszek. Duke University Press, 2011, 119
4. Anne Swartz (ed.), Pattern and Decoration: An Ideal Vision in American Art, 1975-1985. New York: Hudson Museum, 2007.
5. John Perreault, ‘Issues in Pattern Painting’, Artforum, 15:3 (November, 1977): 32-36.

 
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BUILD, CONNECT, GROW 2017
BUNDABERG REGIONAL GALLERIES, QUEENSLAND

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SHEAF 2017 ALBERT STREET, BRISBANE


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FAMILIAR BEYOND RECOGNITION 2017 
QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF ART, BRISBANE

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FAMILIAR BEYOND RECOGNITION 2017 
SPIRO GRACE ART ROOMS, BRISBANE




FAMILIAR BEYOND RECOGNITION | link
SPIRO GRACE ART ROOMS AND QCA, QUEENSLAND

nambour subway mural 2017
NAMBOUR SUBWAY MURAL. SUNSHINE COAST, QLD 2017


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artisan_2017
OUR KIND OF PLAYGROUND | link
ARTISAN, QUEENSLAND


OUR KIND OF PLAYGROUND celebrates the connections between space, touch, play, and making. Through a collection of interactive works and 'play spaces', this exhibition encourages you to touch, reassemble and understand through the action of play. Drawing the visitor to physically engage with exploring material and design thinking, Our Kind of Playground reaffirms Artisan's thoughts on the universality of craft and design.

Curated by Kellee Uhr
Artists: Lincoln Austin, Simon Degroot, and Anna Varendorff

Opening Saturday 4 February 2017, 11am - 2pm
4 February 2017 - 18 March 2017

Artisan. 381 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley QLD



15 Artists 2016

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15 ARTISTS 2016 | link
REDCLIFFE ART GALLERY, QUEENSLAND


15 ARTISTS is an acquisitive award and exhibition which plays a pivotal role in the ongoing growth of the Moreton Bay Regional Council Art Collection. Fifteen artists are invited to submit work that reflects a focus on culture, identity, spirit and sense of place. The judge in 2016 will be Prof Pat Hoffie.

Artists selected are Courtney Coombs, Laurindo De Abreu Soto, Simon Degroot, Dale Harding, Lyndal Hargrave, Julian Meagher, Lucy Quinn, Tricia Reust, Charles Robb, John A Robinson, Vipoo Srivilasa, Jacqui Stockdale, Anna Varendorff, Sera Waters, and Jenny Watson.


Installation image courtesy of Al Sim

26 August 2016 - 24 September 2016
Redcliffe Art Gallery, 470 Oxley Ave Redcliffe



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FLOWERS COLLECTION 2016 | iAM PROJECTS
SUNSHINE COAST UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL


I recently completed a suite of paintings with iAM Projects for the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital opening later this year. These works recognise the hospital as a place of healing, the floral shapes compliment and enhance the architectural and landscaping elements of the hospital to create a supportive environment for patient wellbeing. This suite of ten paintings have been curated by iAM Projects into the extensive collection of wall based artworks for the hospital. 


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PICTURE BUILDING 2016
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KICKARTS CONTEMPORARY, CAIRNS

PICTURE BUILDING is an exhibition exploring the construction of image details focusing on ways that architectural shapes can be rebuilt and reconsidered in contemporary abstract painting. Large paintings negotiate different image shapes and transparent overlap to revitalise existing forms. These works focus on exploring how painting can be used to highlight complex interactions in the built environment and be understood as a metaphor when making space for the new.



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PANDANA MURAL, LIMITLESS PROPERTY. BRISBANE 2016


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HARD GRAPHICS
2016 | link
SPIRO GRACE ART ROOMS, BRISBANE


HARD GRAPHICS is an online exhibition of new paintings exploring tensions between drawing, painting, and computer techniques. These works capture a process of translation as hand drawn sketchbook shapes are made into vector files before returning to the hand made in contemporary painting. This process is emblematic of a larger and more accelerated contemporary relation with visual culture and the way artists triage visual information - the way they identify, select, and translate ephemeral visual elements and turn them into painted motifs.

Dates | March 16 - May 7, 2016
Location | www.sgar.com.au



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AT THIS TIME 2015
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THIS IS NO FANTASY + DIANNE TANZER GALLERY, MELBOURNE


AT THIS TIME is a curated group exhibition at This Is No Fantasy and Dianne Tanzer Gallery of works by Chris Bond, Simon Degroot, Neil Haddon, Valerie Sparks, Jacqui Stockdale, Oliver Watts and Paul Wood.

Working across a range of mediums - painting, photography and sculpture, the artists challenge the boundaries between the real and the ideal, past and present. Each offers a unique perspective on our physical and cultural landscape, and the ways in which it shapes and defines us

20 Oct - 14 Nov, 2015
THIS IS NO FANTASY | 108-110 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
thisisnofantasy.com



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FEELING FOR PLACE: RECENT ACQUISITIONS 2015 |
link
CABOOLTURE REGIONAL GALLERY, QUEENSLAND


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CHANGING LANES, CAIRNS 2015 | larger image


This mural uses abstract shapes from the built environment to evoke a vibrant and distinctive sense of place. Curated by Simon Suckling for the Changing Lanes Public Art Project in Ewan Lane, Cairns. Commissioned by Cairns Regional Council.



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INDIRECT RESPONSE 2015 | link
POSTGRADUATE ART GALLERY GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY, BRISBANE

Photographs courtesy of www.emmaewright.com
 

INDIRECT RESPONSE is an exhibition of new works exploring a translation of image details in abstraction. This exhibition considers how an abstract translation of architectural shapes can maintain a line of reference as they are painted and repeated in physical space. In particular, how a strategy of translation can be used to build and compose while simultaneously acknowledging the structures of the past.

This exhibition is in support of my PhD candidature and is generously supported by
The Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and Spiro|Grace Art Rooms.



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COMPOSITE ORDERS 2015 | link
RUBICON ARI, MELBOURNE

A composite order refers to the delicate appearance of architectural columns used in churches during the Renaissance. They are a mixed capital design combining and restructuring elements from previous orders in new ways and in a different order. This double use of the word order is important here as it suggests an architectural relation and structural arrangement. This arrangement or order is also reflected in layers of computer code determining the order of operations often visually depicted using the phosphor green of early monochrome computer monitors. In this exhibition Degroot employs this green considering how contemporary painting can abstract, build on and combine visual structures to explore a space between the digital and the real.

 

 
 
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NUNDAH MURAL 2015 | larger image


This mural is a design collaboration where illustration is translated into contemporary abstraction. Dan Brock took photographs of people and places in Nundah and illustrated them using thick line drawings. I then selected segments from these drawings and magnified them until they became shapes. These shapes informed the final mural design which maintains a local connection to the people and places of Nundah through this process of translation.

 
 
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SEMI-PERMANENT BOOK 2015 | larger image

Excited to open the mail and see the new 2015 Semi-Permanent Book!!
Image: Composite Orders Black 2 (2014) oil on board 155 x 205mm. $305-

For more info about Semi-Permanent visit semipermanent.com

 
 
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MORETON BAY ART AWARDS 2015 | larger image

Cove Dupont (pictured) was recently awarded the top prize at the 2015 Moreton Bay Art Awards. Originally exhibited at Spiro Grace Art Rooms in 2014, the work has now been added to the extensive Moreton Bay collection.

For more info about the Moreton Bay Art Awards visit www.moretonbay.qld.gov.au

 
 
 
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THE PILLARS PROJECT | G20 CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS BRISBANE
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SELECT RESPONSE 2014
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SPIRO | GRACE ART ROOMS, BRISBANE

SELECT RESHAPE | opening night
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SHALLOW SPACE 2014 | link
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL CAPITAL ARTISTS (ANCA), CANBERRA
An
exhibition of paintings and collages exploring illusion, construction and representation.

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BRISBANE HILTON
| MILD MANNERS

photograph courtesy of Justin Nicolas and Atmosphere Photography

This mural commission with Mild Manners for the Brisbane Hilton is based on a photocopy of 'Le Lagon' an original artwork by Matisse. The adapted design is an appropriation from a copy of a photocopy sourced from the office of Hilton architect Harry Seidler. This design is a dominant motif featured throughout the interior of the Vintaged Bar area. This artwork is an exploration in the change of meaning that occurs in contemporary images as they transfer via copies, photocopies and image processing. 



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FLOATING IN A NEW SKY 2014 | SHAUN LOCKYER ARCHITECTS

 
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REFLECTIVE FRAGMENTS | opening night


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MIGHTY MIGHTY | mightymighty.net.au
mural collaboration with Tom Ferson | tomfersonart.blogspot.com.au



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TITANIUM ANVIL | larger image
CATALOGUE ESSAY

TITANIUM ANVIL | opening night
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LET'S FACE IT | event pics
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MAINTAIN PLEASURE PERSONALLY | opening night
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Thralldom
Danni Zuvela
 
Controlled explosions of colour are the dominant characteristic of Simon Degroot’s paintings. Hard, flat brights and day-glo neons dazzle, but there is no hiding behind this richness; beneath the immediate sensuality of Degroot’s surfaces seethes a complex social encounter. Placed alongside, or, more often, partially buried beneath an array of hard-edged squares and ragged gestural swipes are recognisable images, culled from centuries of human visual culture - the cornucopic abundance of Dutch still lifes, Sesame Street’s Big Bird and a child’s toy truck all make an appearance on the painter’s canvas stage. Re-presented in printers’ halftone, these images are abstracted from their ‘realistic’ contexts, and so Degroot’s paintings achieve a detente between abstract techniques at either end of the spectrum: both ‘pure’ geometric forms, and images uncoupled from the demands of verisimilitude are synthesised in these works.
 
In this layering of the abstracted with the abstract, Degroot establishes a dialogue between the known and the ineffable. There is a breaking down of things into their component parts: the square and the pixel. The choice of squares for each individual canvas imposes a discipline across their otherwise unruly relations, while the squares within each canvas appear both as foreground interventions effacing their subjects (the low-res skin-toned pixelation which partly obscures Big Bird in Copia Avis), and as blown-up symbols of photographic representation, in the enlarged half-tone of Constructed Landscape. Degroot seems to be saying, by all means take pleasure in this vibrant, unabashed colour, but remember what it’s made of. Skin tones can be reduced to a series of pink, brown and greenish hues, any offset photograph is a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black dots, and our daily screen life is regulated by ordered arrays of red, green and blue. In the imposition of these layers, Degroot’s overpainting refuses our illusion, but it is the insistence of the basic units - the building blocks of visuality, as reshuffled elements, that draw the analogy between colour space, and public space.
 
For despite the lushness of the coloured surfaces and techniques which thwart pictorial representation, the paintings inevitably seem to suggest colour space is highly rigid; our spectrum of perceived colours has a distinct limit, just as the rest of our human existence is subject to other, less easily perceptible limits. If Big Bird is a symbol of the colonisation of our collective subconscious by entertainment industries, and if the shallow perspective and fundamental unreality of the Dutch still lifes is a continuing reminder of the conceits of privilege and constraints of class, then their reappropriation in Degroot’s paintings imply that the analogy between colour space and visual space is ongoing in the interpenetrated public and private spheres of 21st century life.
 
Moreover, though those regimes that order and control human consciousness persist, they need not be obeyed willingly or wholeheartedly. Degroot seems to suggest sensuality and play are weapons against boredom and conformity, not just in the quotation of children’s toys, or the iconicity of Copia Avis, with all the associations of abundance and indulgence that title triggers, but via colour itself. The insistent repetition of a distinctly intimate, warm pinkish flesh tone, as well as a coloured smear suggestive of melted chocolate or human stool in Maintain Pleasure Personally, hints at a transgressively carnal, or possibly pre-adult sphere, preceding the development of sober social norms such as shame, duty and moderation. By incorporating neon hues in works such as Festoon With Orange, the limits of the colour spectrum are similarly exceeded. These works seem to suggest the challenge to resist the regulation of ordering forces is open to all of us, provided we are prepared for a little excess.
 
 
 
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 www.metroarts.com.au

CATALOGUE ESSAY

COPY REPEAT | opening night
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http://smallhousebooks.tumblr.com/
photos by charlie hillhouse | www.smallhousebooks.com | blog


NINE LIVES 17 FEB 2011

SUPERBOUQUET is a solo exhibition of new work by Simon Degroot featuring paintings on canvas that alternate between expressionistic painterly floral bouquets and pixelated paintings of the same works repeated.

Degroot draws upon a Dutch history of still life flower painting and the associated conspicuous display of wealth in order to engage with a contemporary consumer culture, where displays of wealth and plenty incite a promise and sense of the attainable — while at the same time bringing into sharp focus the divide between the haves and have nots.

OPENING RECEPTION 6PM. 17TH FEB 2011
17 FEB 2011 - 6 MAR 2011
 

www.photodane.com

photo by dane beesley | www.photodane.com



nine lives gallery


the national grid


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semi permanent

RAW SPACE GALLERY
CATALOGUE ESSAY