Ice Meets Erotica

Lord knows we could all use a little erotic melting this time of year. But for me, what Melting Ice: The Erotic Thawing of the Winter Blues, the group show presented at Gallery 22, has to offer is much more than the thrill of eroticism.

Specifically, what Melting Ice has to offer is an exciting variety of approaches by skilled, sensitive and, at times, quirky local artists.

Seduction and playfulness seem to be the key elements connecting the wide range of styles presented here. A serious warning: come to view the show with a mischievous spirit.

Melting Ice is co-curated by music emporium Triple J owner Jordi Mikeli-Jones and local artist Dan Bushnell.

Gallery 22, located up the graffiti-painted stairway from Triple J’s, is a great space to show art.

One cold blustery February morning I had the good fortune to meet up with photographer Christian Kuntz, who has a group of eight large black and white close-up nude photographs in the show.

Showing work in an art space is a first for Kuntz, a commercial photographer specializing in boudoir portraiture.

These works cross over from the commercial realm to the artistic. As Kuntz says, these photographs are more than figure studies; they are studies of the sensual.

The nudes are technically gorgeous. Lighting is very important. They reveal a sensual depth of tonal variety. Shadow areas evoke mystery and the sparkle of the small specks of highlight evokes excitement.

The wide variety of work is dynamically arranged throughout the gallery space.

Motion in Stillness, by Claire Strauss, is a chaotic wheel of colour exploring, with photo documentation – what was affectionately called a “happening” in the ’60’s and ’70s.

Strauss explains the piece as being about the joy of movement infused with colour -body painting and interaction in time and space.

Natalie Edelson’s piece What’s in Bed with You, alternatively titled It’s Complicated: Situationist Exploration of Neurotica in Life, the Universe and Everything, is a series of quirky photographs and other items. These are clothes-pinned to lines fixed to the wall adjacent to a comfy-looking bed, which itself is attached to the wall.

The idea is for the viewer to “fill” the bed with the images of their choice, an image that “tweaks you”.

Belinda Harrow is a soft sculpture artist. Her piece Want or Need depicts what I would call humping doglike animals on a chair.

The dark merging figures are provocative. It makes me wonder, what are the wild-looking creatures doing on a chair?

Mark Preston is well known for his elegant Tlingit-inspired paper cutout shadow boxes. I am enchanted by the beauty and simplicity of the minimalist figurative work he presents here.

Split Shape, Preston’s acrylic mixed media piece on canvas, shows a wonderful use of colour and balance in design.

Personal favourites of mine are the large expressive drawing and painting works of Erin Corbett. I am attracted by the immediate expressiveness of her gesture drawing and the freshness of her watercolour work.

Corbett’s outrageous drawings, Threesome and Strap On, depict some naughty monsters with great line quality and colour capturing the outrageous and impish character of her subject matter.

And her large watercolour painting of Manet’s 19th-century Olympia humorously addresses, in a nightmarish kind of way, the exploitation and degeneration of sexuality in our culture.

Sandra Storey’s clay figure sculpture offers her own nightmarish image of a figure with a gaping golden bowl in her abdomen adorned with what is reminiscent of one’s innards, while a small raven looks on.

Before leaving the show I indulged myself by putting on the headphones of Shauna Jones’ The Summer of Writing Dangerously, Bear #2, a computer-based audio piece.

I enjoyed an erotic romp through the robotic storytelling voice of the narrator while watching cute and bouncy teddies hop about the screen – a paradox of combining the cute and sexy, the sterile and the erotic.

Take a chance, tickle your fancy and experience the whimsy of “Melting Ice” yourself until March 12.

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