DIRECTOR, JENSEN GALLERY
“I’m interested in artists who make things, with a sensitivity and respect for materials,” says Jensen Gallery director Andrew Jensen. “Very early on I liked that about Melissa Coote’s work. It’s a solid studio-focused practice; it comes out of a gritty endeavour, there’s nothing demure or easy about [it]. What most surprised me about my attraction to Melissa’s work was its theatricality, something I’m generally wary of. They’re extraordinarily theatrical things.
“In a show called The Estrangement of Judgement [in 2011] I showed a quintet of [Coote’s] softly draped hands alongside the work of James Casebere, Jude Rae and Gary Hill. There is a sense of deep forensic enquiry in Hill’s filmmaking, in Rae’s interrogation of a wallaby skull – and that sense of erosion is in Melissa’s work as well. It presented a clear opportunity to include Melissa’s work in the exhibition and therefore the gallery.
“This will be Melissa’s first solo show with Jensen in Sydney. She’s working in sculpture for the first time, although her painting process has always pointed to sculpture; there’s an archaeological way that she lays her materials to compose a substrate, and then digs back into it.
“The fact that she’s inviting [viewers to handle the bronze heart sculptures] is great. There’s something intimate about the idea of holding one’s heart in one’s hand, yet these are disconnected, unplugged – there’s a matter-of-factness about them. Whichever body part Melissa’s attending to, they’re linked by their sensitivity [and] vital characteristics. She’s not interested in the architecture of the body, but in its soft mechanisms.
“The show, in our new space, will be a considered installation of sculpture, photogravures and paintings. I’m sure it will be extremely beautiful.”
This article was originally published by Art Collector issue 69, JUL – SEP 2014.