Opening at AGWA on 12 December is the free exhibition Carla Adams, Albert Tucker, sorry I was/am too much, a pairing of works by Western Australian contemporary artist Carla Adams and one of Australia’s most foremost modernist artists, Albert Tucker.
sorry I was/am too much is a phrase taken from one of Adam’s visual diaries (a selection of which feature in the exhibition), suggesting wounded defiance, an ongoing dance around relationships, expectations and the slings and arrows of interpersonal battle.
The show includes Adams’ paintings, textiles, ceramics and mixed-media objects, drawings and visual diaries that emerge from her experiences in the online dating world. This is juxtaposed against a selection of Tucker’s drawings and paintings from the State Art Collection, produced between 1943 and 1989.
Simultaneously funny and shocking, Adams’ portraits capture the perplexing and often confronting combination of charm and cruelty in her potential online partners. She documents and ironically reforms their social self-presentations amid a welter of unsettling come-ons and lurid provocations encountered as well as the sometimes sweet and thrilling opportunities she has experienced.
Against such works, Tucker’s drawings and paintings now seem less representative of modern Australian expressionism, but appears as images of flawed, challenging, hapless, pained, endearing past lovers or romantic partners to be. Defended and vulnerable in equal parts, his portraits radiate with both an emotional sensitivity and a rigid, fixed fury at the world and its ills. They are portraits of an Australian masculinity isolated and damaged by a constant war with itself, the natural environment and women.
AGWA Curator of West Australian and Australian art, Robert Cook says, “Though their output is separated by many decades, and while the pairing might seem surprising, Adams and Tucker are intimately connected in their use of highly-personalised and charged versions of expressionism as the vehicle for their struggle with feeling connections and misconnections between people; the blurring of the private and public self; carnal and romantic desires and their constant frustration; and gender roles.
“In this context, Adams and Tucker is an unsettling visual essay about how men simultaneously project and protect their feelings in ways that are disturbing, dysfunctional and bleakly affecting. Tucker’s works can be seen as a plea for an impossible kind of understanding of his pain and torment, and Adams’ works as meditations on what happens when this kind of emotion is unleashed on others.”
Carla Adams was born in Perth (1984) and graduated with first-class honours from Curtin University in 2014. Her work incorporates sculpture, textiles, craft practices, painting, drawing, research and book-making to navigate the complexities of relationships from an embodied, female perspective. Adams’ work has been exhibited at MOANA, Turner Galleries, Bus Projects (Melbourne), FELTSpace (Adelaide), ARTBAR at The Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Verge Gallery (Sydney) and Blindside (Melbourne). Adams’ work was selected for the 2013 Hatched National Graduate Exhibition at PICA; she was a finalist in the 2017 and 2020 Joondalup Invitation Art Awards.
Albert Tucker was born in Melbourne in 1914, and active from the late 1930s until his death in 1999. A painter, draftsperson and occasional printmaker, he was closely associated with the development of Australian expressionism, and aligned with the literary journal Angry Penguins and artists Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, and his one-time wife Joy Hester. Tucker’s work has been exhibited in across Australia and internationally, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery of Victoria. He was awarded the Kurt Geiger Award by MOMA Australia in 1960 and is represented in all Australian State Galleries as well as MOMA New York and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
sorry I was/am too much is only on display at AGWA from 12 December 2020 – 15 March 2021.
AGWA: Perth Cultural Centre, WA