A Foreigner’s Glimpse
13th July – 6th August 2016
Geoff Levitus is a multi-disciplinary artist who has worked often in Asia and Europe over many years. In this exhibition, his works on paper and large mixed media canvases explore the cultural effects of interconnecting histories. Apart from the daily contradictions of contemporary life on the streets of Asia juxtaposed with the traditional life of temples and pagodas, Levitus also confronts the reality of uprisings largely unknown to the west, the horror of recent wars, and the environmental disasters accompanying the rush to modernization and development. Seductive surfaces allude to a peeling back of exotic layers to expose complex underlying post-colonial narratives.
Exhibition Price List click here - Floor Sheet Geoff Levitus A Foreigner's Glimpse
Click here to view a short excerpt from the video NORTH SOUTH EAST WEST by Geoff Levitus
A FOREIGNER’S GLIMPSE: GEOFF LEVITUS
For Geoff Levitus this exhibition is a culmination of his travels and research over the past eleven years. Living for different periods in Europe and Asia he revitalized his art practice by opening himself up to much older cultures and histories than that of his colonized Australian home. As an outsider he brought fresh eyes and his considerable artistic skills to record his experiences and first impressions, though his own maturity and sensitivity prompted him to peel back the layers and search for the obscured political and social streams running beneath the surface of these different societies.
In these works on paper and large paintings Geoff Levitus brings into play, imagery from Italy, France, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and India. Borrowing something of beauty such as the iconic flower of each country and placing it in an Asian influenced white-charged space, he enters a different realm of picture making. The Buddhist notion of letting things take their course, dovetails with the flowing paint methods and guided accidents that Levitus employs to make both his watercolours and large enamel paintings.
His mixed media works on paper combine flora, newspaper reportage, finely drawn birdcages, boats, and calligraphy all linked with ribbons of coloured wash. These are then translated into larger scale works on canvas. Using poured enamel paint in lieu of watercolour he expands the scale and impact of his recent work. Floating over aerosol acrylic painted backgrounds with vibrant gloss enamel colour, he creates flowers from each country’s iconic bloom, using a marbling technique.
The juxtaposition of poetics and politics comes to the fore in the way Levitus seduces the viewer with delicious, pinks, intense greens, oranges and reds, symbolic iconography, folk art and the tactility of his paintings. He then undercuts that with subtle reminders of conflicts and injustices present and past, slipping into the frame the imagery of soldiers putting down rebellions from the colonial past.
Levitus has often used objects as symbols of loss and peril. He recalls in an interview that his beautiful and often pictured Moroccan birdcage was found in a market in France. In this finely crafted birdcage he found resonances with colonized North Africa and reportage that Vietnamese rebels were carried in cages under French rule in the early 20th century. He also includes visual references to refugees and boats travelling across open seas from Syria and elsewhere in his most recent paintings.
His residencies in Vietnam and visits to South Korea and Japan also influenced the sensibility and techniques in his work. The adoption of the Asian use of white space representing time passing and space re-imagined, is an important element in these works. As a potent area, holding spatial and perspectival nuances, these white expanses connect the disparate elements within the work.
Decorative techniques are unabashedly utilized in Vietnam, Korea and Japan in the traditional pursuit of beauty derived from nature. Levitus’s use of polyurethane base that allows the dispersal of coloured enamels is likened to the shine of laquerwork in decorative Japanese art and craft.
Overall these works can be seen as a humanitarian stream of consciousness whereby Levitus poses the view that: we are all human beings but the conditions that form us are so subject to the circumstances and the political mileu of each country. We all have a history that is universal and we should take more responsibility for each other. In other words, we are all victims of circumstance and political histories. We are descended from settlers, convicts, survivors or refugees at some point in the past so why can’t we be more understanding of the travails of the current movement of people out of war zones and poverty?
Levitus is a serious artist and emphasizes: This work is not a travelogue but expresses how I relate to the world. The politics are unavoidable but often suppressed in many cultures that are trying to absorb democratic processes. In passing Geoff mentions the aftermath of the Fukishima disaster as another example of people being displaced through no fault of their own but becoming refugees in their own country.
He relates to an artistic tradition where artists have often gone on journeys to disrupt their normal way of doing things, to respectfully engage with different cultures and thus bring new interpretations of what they see and understand from this exposure, even though one can only be a foreigner who is allowed glimpses of the other.
Click here to view an online preview by Artist Profile
"Working often in Asia and Europe over the last 11 years, I scratched the surfaces to discover the cultural effects of interconnecting histories. I discovered contemporary life on the streets juxtaposed with the traditional life of temples and pagodas, the beauty of visual representations of these daily contradictions, but also the horror of wars and uprisings largely unknown to the West.
Spending large amounts of time living in Vietnam, as well as South Korea, Japan, India, Laos, Cambodia and China, surfaces peeled slightly away, each layer revealing bits of astonishing beauty and horrific ugliness. The West is now struggling with the tide of refugees that are partly a result of its own economic and political colonialism.
Asia’s rocky path from colonial histories to 21st century economic prosperity exposes the huge cultural divides and unfamiliarity with democratic ideas that are common in many of these countries. It becomes obvious that we are good at forgetting and burying history, especially that the history of refugees is a universal one repeated through the ages which implicates us all. My work is an effort to confront this reality."
Geoff Levitus is a multi-disciplinary artist with an MA from City Art Institute (now Art and Design, UNSW) and a history of over 25 solo exhibitions and numerous group shows both in Australia and overseas, including France, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. He has work in the collections of Artbank, University of Sydney, Trinity Grammar School Sydney, Mosman Shire Council, Windsor Shire Council, Trinity Catholic College Lismore, Grafton Regional Gallery, Lismore Regional Art Gallery, Southern Cross University, Canberra University, Westfield Collection, Kim Bonython Collection, New England Regional Art Museum, & Orange Regional Gallery. He has been the recipient of artist residencies at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, New Space Arts Foundation in Hue Vietnam, Doclab in Hanoi Vietnam, Chula in Hoi An Vietnam, Barim in Gwangju South Korea and the New England Regional Art Museum. He has won several prizes including the Mosman Art Prize, North Coast National Art Prize, Trinity Art Prize, Jacaranda Art Prize (twice) and Macquarie Ports Art Prize, and has twice been a finalist in the Sulman Prize, AGNSW.
GEOFF LEVITUS - CV
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University of Sydney.
Bachelor of Law (LLB), University of Sydney).Master of Visual Arts (MA - Vis Arts), City Art Institute, now College of Fine Arts, University Of New South Wales.
Selected Solo Exhibitions.
2015 ‘Boat’, installation, Barim, Gwangju, South Korea.
2015 ‘Four Videos’, satellite event of Ooasa Art Festival, Kitahioshima-chou, Japan.
2014 ‘Five Videos’, Ultimo Project Space, Sydney.
2011 ‘Forest of Memories’, installation with Kristine McCarroll, Newspace Arts Foundation, Hue, Vietnam.
2009 'Fragmentary Travels', Galerie Marie-Laure de l'Ecotais, Paris.
2007 'Varese to Hanoi', The Depot Gallery, Sydney.
‘Recent Work’, Galerie Marie-Laure de l'Ecotais, Paris.
2004 ‘Evoke’, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney.
‘The New England Suite’, NERAM
2003 ‘Island, Floating’, Alliance Francaise, Sydney.
‘Mirage’, John Miller Gallery, Newcastle.
2002 ‘Decadent Voyage’, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris.
‘Ile Seguin and other things’, Galerie Etienne de Causans, Paris.
2001 ‘Transitions’, Grafton Regional Gallery
‘A Deep Well of Memory’ (with Paul Miller), Manly Art Gallery & Museum.
2000 ‘Place to Place’, Orange Regional Gallery
1999 ‘Recent Sculpture’, New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM).
1998 ‘Out of Place VII’, Tin Sheds Gallery.
1994 ‘Out of Place VI’, Armidale Art Museum.
‘Out of Place VI’, University of Southern Queensland Contemporary Art Gallery, Toowoomba.
1993 ‘Out of Place IV; Two Journeys’, University of New England Contemporary Art Gallery
‘Out of Place V’, Victor Mace Gallery, Brisbane.
1992 ‘Out of Place II’, James Harvey Gallery, Sydney.
1992 ‘Out of Place III’, Ben Grady Gallery, Canberra.
1992 ‘Paradise Lost Again’, Grafton Regional Gallery.
1989 ‘Politics of the Interior’, Lismore Regional Art Gallery (LRAG).
1988 ‘Out of Place’, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.
1986 ‘Persona Non Grata’, Lismore Regional Art Gallery (LRAG).
1985 ‘Objects of Worship and Other Things’, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney.
1983 Hogarth Galleries, Sydney.
Selected Group Exhibitions.
2016 ‘Making it UP’, Ultimo Project Space.
2015 Gwangju International Contemporary Art Exhibition, Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall.
2014 ‘One Metre Max’, Ultimo Project Space.
‘Juxtapositions’, video installation, Seventh Gallery, Melbourne.
2013 ‘Juxtapositions’ with Kristine McCarroll and DocLab, Hanoi artists, video installation, Hanoi, Vietnam.
2011 ‘Dream Nation – Personal meets Political’, Ultimo Project Space.
2010 ‘Art Upstairs’, Orange Regional Gallery;
‘Clouding the Issue’, Ultimo Project Space.
2009 ‘Salon Show’, Ultimo Project Space, Sydney.
‘Controversy and Acclaim', Mosman City Gallery, Sydney.
2008 Galerie Marie-Laure de l'Ecotais, Paris.
2007 Art House Gallery, Sydney
2006 'Twenty/20 Vision', NSW Parliament House.
'Philanthropy Rules OK', Orange Regional Gallery.
2005 'Watermarks', Orange Regional Gallery.
2004 Keevil at Shapiro Galleries, Sydney.
2003 ‘Love Your Work’, Muse Gallery Ultimo;
‘fifty/50’, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale;
‘Peace’, Manly Art Gallery & touring.
2002 Blake Prize, SH Erwin Gallery, Sydney
1999 ’Jacaranda Drawing Award’, Grafton Regional Gallery & touring.
‘Sculpture by the Sea’, Sydney
1998 ‘69 Sculptors’, King St & Defiance Gallery.
1997 ‘Landmarks - Contemporary Visions of the Australian Landscape’, Campbelltown City Art Gallery
1995 ‘Raise the Roof’’, Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney.
1994 ‘fifty/50’, Armidale Art Museum.
1991 ‘The Doors’, Gold Coast City Gallery.
1990 ‘New Art 1990’, Bonython-Meadmore Gallery (BMG), Sydney.
1989 ‘New Art 1989’, BMG, Adelaide.
‘Drawing the Line’, Tweed River Regional Gallery.
1988 Bonython-Meadmore Gallery (BMG), Sydney;
‘Landmarks’, Lismore Regional Art Gallery.
1987 Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.
Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of NSW
1986 ‘Interior Landscapes’, Grafton Regional Gallery.
1984 Solander Galleries, Canberra.
1983 Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of NSW
1982 - 84 Hogarth Galleries, Sydney.
Residencies and Awards
2015 Residency, Chula, Hoi An, Vietnam.
2015 Residency, Barim, Gwangju, South Korea.
2013 Artist-in-residence, Trinity Grammar School, Sydney.
2012-13 Residency/workshop, DocLab, Hanoi, Vietnam
2011 Residency, Newspace Arts Foundation, Hue, Vietnam.
2005, 2007, 2009 Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris.
2003 Studio Residency, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale.
2002 Power Studio, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris.
1991 North Coast National Art Prize
Jacaranda Drawing Prize
1990 Trinity Art Prize
1990 Southern Cross Art Prize
1989 Jacaranda Art Prize
1985 Mosman Art Prize
1985 Macquarie Ports Art Prize
Trinity Grammar School Sydney, Mosman Shire Council, Windsor Shire Council, Trinity Catholic College, Grafton Regional Gallery, Lismore Regional Art Gallery, Southern Cross University, Artbank, Canberra University, Westfield Collection, Kim Bonython Collection, New England Regional Art Museum, University of Sydney, Orange Regional Gallery.
’International Artists Showcase’, in Barim Archive 2015, published by Barim, Gwangju, South Korea.
Van Than, Tuoi Tre (Hue Newspaper) 5 April 2011.
Bich Ngoc, ‘Fruit of the Forest’, Time Out, Hanoi, p.12, 11-17 April, 2011.
La Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot, France, March 2009.
Alan Benjamin, 'Seduction and Critique' in 'Fragmentary Travels', Hanoi 2008.
La Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot, France, No. 36, Octobre 2007.
Arts Gazette Internationale, France No. 564, November 2007.
Alan Sisley, 'Geoff Levitus, The Ephemeral', 2006.
Art Almanac, March 2006.
SBS Radio interview for ‘Island, Floating’, 4 Feb 2003.
‘Recollection’, Grafton, Lismore & Tweed River Regional Galleries, 2003.
Alan Sisley, ‘A Deep Well of Memory’, Manly Art Gallery & Museum, August 2001
Alan Sisley, ‘Images of Dislocation and Transience’, cat. essay for ‘Transitions’, Grafton RG, May 2001.
Anne Sarzin, ‘Geoff Levitus: remembering past landscapes’, University of Sydney News, 7 May 1998.
John McDonald, ‘Lie of the Land’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May, 1998.
Julie Copeland, ‘A Brush With Landscape’, Radio National, August 1998.
Marilyn Walters, Cat. Essay, ‘Landmarks - Contemporary Visions of the Australian Landscape’, Campbelltown Contemporary Art Gallery, 1997.
Richard Maude, Catalogue essay for ‘Out of Place II’, James Harvey Gallery, Sydney, 1992.
Sonia Barron, ‘Reflecting links with the land’, Canberra Times, 29 August 1992.
Catalogue, ‘Outlying and Far Reaching’, Umbrella Studios, Townsville, 1991.
Ray Rixon, ‘Perspective of North Coast Artists’, Periphery No.3, May 1990.
Jennifer Aspinall,’Clarity in Distance - A Perspective on Regional Art’, ‘Landmarks’ Cat, LRAG, July 1988.
Richard Maude, ‘Legal Immigrants’, Catalogue essay, Lismore Regional Art Gallery, September 1986.
‘Vis-Arts 85’, Lismore Regional Art Gallery, 1985.
Susanna Short, ‘The Force of Realism’, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 1985.
‘Image - Art in Asia’ 1983.